Yes, I’m an Elijah Kranski fan! He inspires me. You may not know his name yet, but if you have a chance to meet him – do it. He’ll inspire you too.
He’s come along way from the kid who grew up on a Green Bay area pig farm. He almost went to medical school, but that wasn’t his calling either. And he didn’t win a Tony Award for his first stage performance either. But, he is the guy that has taken opportunities in life and turned them into moments of a lifetime.
Elijah and I spoke by telephone in a late night interview after he finished rehearsals for his role in the upcoming stage production of Moses Supposes. He’s a soft-spoken, friendly guy, with an unique aura that permeated the whole conversation. At first, I thought it was the friendliness that everyone tries to project when talking with a reporter. But, that was definitely not the case here. That’s just who he is.
He has definitely ridden an actor’s career roller coaster, but he’s also discovered the real Elijah Kranski in the process. That’s a remarkable feat for a 30 year old, as there are plenty of people twice his age who haven’t made such a discovery about themselves.
“I’m not just a white, Midwestern farm boy,” he told me half way through our interview. That’s so true. His genuine good looks and wholesome appearance make him difficult to describe – so look at his photos. They also give him lots of opportunities to play many different roles.
“I think I can pull off (the look of) anything except a Norwegian,” he told me in jest.
He is a Los Angeles resident now, but he’ll always have Midwestern roots that he earned from the start. For him, the start was high school – well kind of.
“My high school had no arts program at all,” he said. That didn’t stop him. He simply drove the 45 minutes it took to get to a nearby city that had a community theater.
“I was the black sheep of the family with an affinity for the arts.”
He started performing his junior year of high school, but had no focus.
“I didn’t know what to do with it,” he said. That didn’t stop him from trying, but he never lost the importance of academic either – graduating at the top of his senior class.
Picking a college was a difficult process. He wanted to attend NYU, but he had scholarships to the more affordable University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, which would significantly ease the burden of college tuition.
“I filled out the NYU application,” he said. “I just didn’t know what to put.
“I went to write pre-med, but I couldn’t do it.” He chose drama instead.
U-Wisconsin did have a pretty good drama department, but it wasn’t New York City. He enrolled in the general “drama” category, figuring he would reclassify later into theatre major.
As a college freshman, he auditioned for school plays and – in a rare occurrence – he landed the lead in the major school production of the year.
“That never happens for a freshman,” he said. “But it let me know I can do this. I can come through as an artist.”
“I was heart-broken that I had to give up the New York dream,” he recalled. He didn’t give it up as much as he delayed it.
During school breaks, he attended NYU summer classes, working with voice and acting coaches and spending the entire 12-week break absorbing New York culture, but not without a bit of drama from the beginning.
His arrival in New York City is the material screenwriters would die for. He was a 19-year old from the Midwest getting out of a taxi in the pouring rain. He had his luggage in one hand and no where to go. The hustle and bustle of the Big Apple scrambled around him. It didn’t discourage him – it motivated him.
“You have to make it work for you,” he said. And that’s exactly what he did.
He returned to New York to work as an intern at Fox TV for his last semester of college.
“I worked in the casting department as an audition reader,” he said. That gave him valuable experience working opposite other actors and learning the auditioning process first hand.
“I found an apartment and got a job serving tables,” he said. “I was auditioning and paying the bills, but it just wasn’t happening fast enough for me.”
Elijah said he was a full semester ahead of his college friends who might also go to New York. “I just didn’t know many close people there,” he said.
With few contact and no support system, he struggled between working as a server in local restaurants to pay the bills, and auditioning during his time off for roles that seemed to escape him.
Penniless and out of ideas, he decided to head back to Wisconsin to build up his bank account and clear his head.
“Moving back to Wisconsin was a choice I made,” he said. “I knew I could save some money and try again.”
As fate would have it, he received an important call as soon as he returned back home.
“The very week I decided to go back to Wisconsin I got called for final auditions for a Broadway play.”
He had no money to go back to New York. “I had to pass on the opportunity,” he said. “I had no choice.”
That was probably a good thing. Elijah was able to replenish his bank account, focus on improving his skills and surround himself with his friends, his parents and two older brothers.
Within six months, a rejuvenated Elijah Kranski was back in New York City and stronger then ever. His success came almost immediately.
“In the first six months that I was back (in the city), I did three off-off Broadway shows,” he said. He also had a minor role in a small budget film.
Ultimately, it was non-stage skills that he needed to enhance.
“I needed to build my skills in front of the camera.”
The place to do that is Los Angeles, so in April 2006 he packed up and moved across country.
“I sold everything, bought a manual car that I didn’t know how to drive, and drove across country,” he said with a chuckle.
“LA was the complete antithesis of my life; and that’s why I needed it.”
He lived with friends in Pasadena for a while and, within six weeks, landed his first -and still most defining — film role.
“Holding Trevor wasn’t a big budget,” he said. “But it was a great opportunity.”
The project cemented him in the LA acting community.
“People just know that movie,” he said. “It was a really warm, creative, supportive environment to prove myself in.”
Five years later, he thinks of the movie as an important step in his development as an actor. “It’s created some opportunities for me…its sort of a calling card in a way.”
Elijah’s next project was a reprisal of the lead role in The Twilight of the Golds at The Chandler Studio Theatre in Los Angeles, a role that won him critical acclaim and attention.
“I was fun to repeat it on the professional stage,” he said.
Elijah portrayed the lead character, David Gold. His experience with that role during his junior year at college helped him win the role on the LA stage.
“It certainly didn’t hurt that I knew the role well,” he said of his audition. “When I played it here in LA, I was the actual age of the character.
“I think the years that I aged between college and LA allowed me to grow as an actor for that role,” he said. “It made for a more complete character on stage.”
When he moved to LA, Elijah said he really wanted to focus on television and film, but those opportunities don’t always pan out as planned.
“I love doing stage, but I needed to grow in other areas.”
He has done short films, regional venue theatre, and the horror film Demon Resurrection, followed by a co-starring role on ABC’s hit television series Desperate Housewives.
But, it was his role as David Gold that drew the attention of a Los Angeles theatrical publicist who was sitting in the audience for one night’s performance.
“Ken (Werther) called me and wanted to have coffee,” Elijah recalled. “He offered to help my career if he could.”
Months later, that offer came to fruition with a project that is making its world debut on stage.
Set in a southern Jewish home, Moses Supposes is a comedy that gives Elijah a chance to take on a new stage role and work alongside some of Hollywood’s most talented performers.
“It’s a play about communication,” he said. “It’s been a cool territory for me to examine as an actor.”
The cast seems to be making that easy — and fun.
“The first week of rehearsals, I laughed more then I have in six months,” he said, oddly enough, with a chuckle.
He plays Raymond Green, the adult son of Cookie Green (played by Golden Globe winning actress Karen Black) and Marvin Green (played by The Sopranos’ David Proval); and, brother to CeCe Green (played by actress Sarah Sankowich).
They’re still doing rehearsals, but Elijah said working with such a talented cast has been a pleasure from the onset.
“I’ve learned so much from Karen and David,” he said. “They bring so much history and talent to the production.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for sure.”
The play has 94-pages of dialogue, so learning new lines has been a challenge.
“This is the first time in a long while that I’ve had to learn a new play,” he said. “It’s a fun project with some really awesome people.”
Moses Supposes will play at the Zephyr Theatre in Los Angeles through Dec. 4.
What’s up after this run is anyone’s guess, but Elijah remains positive about the opportunities that lie ahead.
“Acting is a career of rejection,” Elijah said. “And hearing lots of ‘no’ answers.”
Acting may be a tough business to break into and to ultimately succeed at, but all those no moments haven’t deterred Elijah from living the dream. For inspiration, he need only step outside home in Hollywood.
“I walk outside my house every morning and see the HOLLYWOOD sign,” he said. “That’s not bad for a Midwestern boy from Wisconsin.”
That may be the visual inspiration for him every day, but Elijah said he always has drawn inspiration from two people in his life: his parents.
“They taught me to wake up in the morning and be true to myself.” And that’s a motto he lives by every single day.
“They have always had an ability to see beyond the world in which they live,” he said. “That’s true inspiration.”
He will get to show them how far he’s come soon, because his parents will be sitting in the audience when Moses Supposes opens later this month.
Does it make him nervous, I asked.
“Not really,” he answered. “It does give me a certain sense of accomplishment though.”
Elijah is an inspiration too. He won’t quit and that alone makes him a shining star in Hollywood.
Yes, I’m an Elijah Kranski fan.