Hometown: "I really haven't found it yet. I live in Los Angeles now. I grew up in Plano, Texas."
Currently: Making his Broadway debut as Melchior, the smart and sexy young hero in the hit Broadway musical Spring Awakening.
Beginnings: Parrish started out in the business early, at just six years old, doing commercials. "I started acting first, but I was always singing," he recalls. "I sang in church, and then did some musical theater, but I had no 'career path' idea for it." A meeting with a manager in his hometown (near Dallas) led him to Los Angeles, where he began to land film roles and TV pilots. "I just stuck around for a while and got very lucky," he says modestly. Parrish returned to Texas for high school, but continued to send in taped auditions for movies and television, which lead to his big break, Weeds.
There's Something About Mary-Louise: A few months after auditioning via video for Showtime's now-hit series, Parrish got the call to fly to L.A. while filming a movie in Montana. "It all happened so fast, I was like, 'OK, whatever, let's do it!'" The young actor was cast as Silas Botwin, the delightfully rebellious older son of Mary-Louise Parker's pot-selling suburbanite, Nancy. "I think [working with Parker] is one of the best things for me in my growth as an actor and a person in the industry over the past four years," Parrish says of his on-screen mom, with whom he shares a close relationship. [He played the son of a second Tony winner, Kristin Chenoweth, in the feature film RV, laughingly admitting, "I had no idea who she was then."] In January, Parrish and Parker will be working seven blocks apart when she stars in a Broadway revival of Hedda Gabler. "We're very excited to be on stage together at the same time and in the same city," he says. "It's going to be a great beginning of 2009."
Awakening on Broadway: Parrish first auditioned for Spring Awakening last November. "I met all of the creative team and did readings with other characters, including [current Wendla] Alexandra Socha," he recalls. Then came rehearsals: "Grueling!" he jokes. "No, actually, it was a total pleasure. The creative team is so giving and caring, and the cast is so supportive. It's been nothing but a creative exploration of the character." Parrish ultimately started as Melchior a week earlier than planned. "I made a ton of mistakes, but I only hoped to go into it having fun. And I had a blast." Spring Awakening's dedicated fan base adds to his positive experience. "Weeds is sort of that way—it has this cult following—so I'm used to that idea, a tight group of people being avid lovers. It's cool to have that again now, on stage."
You Can Leave Your Pants Off: Both Weeds and Spring Awakening have left Parrish less than fully clothed. As Silas' sexual experiences progressed over the show's four seasons, he had to decide if he was ready to go the half-monty. "I've always been very comfortable with my body, so my parents grew up with me…you know, I wasn't exactly clothed all the time." Still, he went to Mom and Dad for advice. "They both were like, 'Hunter, everybody and their mother has seen your butt anyway,'" he jokes. "Their support helped me make the final decision to go ahead and do it and just own it." How does Melchior's love scene compare to its TV counterpart? "Doing it on stage is way scarier," Parrish admits. "Luckily, the scene is between me and one other person and I don't remember that the audience is there because I'm looking into her eyes the whole time. It's a very, very, special scene and it's very tasteful so I didn't even think twice about it. But the first time I did it, I was like, 'Uh oh, there's a lot of people… staring at my butt.'"
You Sing? Given his television character, Parrish is aware that people are surprised, as he puts it, "to see 'Silas' on stage singing and dancing, because he's not that kind of guy at all. This is the first time I've actually gotten to showcase my voice to a lot of people at once." A budding rock songwriter, he describes his own music as "very acoustic and raw, unstripped and honest" and finds Spring Awakening a perfect match. "My voice fits with Duncan Sheik's style of song, and that's my style," he says. That doesn't mean he's opposed to branching out, of course. "I want them to bring back Joseph [and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat]. If anyone has that idea, I'm your man!"