Glee's hilariously silent pianist is quiet no more. NPR's Monkey See blog has an interview with Brad Ellis, the man who plays New Directions' accompanist on the Fox show. Ellis pops up in nearly every episode, dressed always in black and plucking along with Rachel, Finn, and company, with a scowl on his face, never saying a word.
It's those facial expressions and silent treatment that's made him a bit of a scene-stealer and fan favorite. In the Monkey See interview, he reveals that his character's curmudgeonly demeanor was dictated by Ryan Murphy ("You hate all of them, and you hate children."), and that he's actually a graduate of the Berklee School of Music. He's the house pianist for Glee, which, beyond playing on camera, has entailed helping star Cory Monteith (Finn) learn to sing on key and teaching Jonathan Groff (Jesse St. James) to play "Bohemian Rhapsody" on piano for Season One's finale.
When he booked the Glee gig, Ellis also had no idea that he'd eventually be appearing on camera:
Ryan Murphy said to me, "You better get used to wearing all black." And I thought he was talking about my fashion sense. The next day I came to a meeting at Fox, wearing black from head to toe, and Dante Lorenti, another one of the producers, told me that's not what Ryan meant. He meant to wear black when I was on the set and we were filming.
He's been so effective in the role, that even his Glee co-stars didn't realize he's actually a real musician:
Jane Lynch didn't even know I was a real musician. When we finally had a scene together, she said, "I thought you were an actor playing the piano." And I said, "No, I'm a pianist playing an actor." And she said something like, "We're all just playing actors."
Read the full story at NPR's Monkey See blog.