Little Voice has arrived on Apple TV+ with two big talents on board: Sean Teale (The Gifted) and Colton Ryan (The Americans) play Ethan and Samuel respectively, two of the people who Bess (Star alum Brittany O’Grady) encounters while trying to make her name as a musical artist in New York.
I sat down with both Sean and Colton recently to ask them why they jumped aboard the series created and executive produced by Jessie Nelson (Waitress: The Broadway Musical) and what music they’ve been listening to recently. You can watch the first two episodes of Little Voice for free on the Apple TV app, and subscribe to Apple TV+ (with a 7-day free trial) to see the rest.
Brittany Frederick: What was it about Little Voice that resonated with both of you initially? Were there parts of the show that you could relate to?
Sean Teale: Aside from the smorgasbord of people and talents that were involved in the project from the get-go, it’s a no brainer [that] two performers in their twenties would end up wanting to tell a story about the struggle of young 20-year-old people trying to navigate the industry they live in, the cities that they’re in, and trying to grow to be the performers that they are.
And when it then gets penned by Jessie and her lovely writing team, and the music sounds like Sara [Bareilles]’s music does, which is just otherworldly, then it becomes the most obvious thing to fight for, which is exactly why we went in for it. And I know that that’s why we both felt very lucky to take it.
Colton Ryan: This was my first big sort of television, high-level project, anything like that. And so for me, it started as this small idea, and that was Jessie Nelson, Jessie Nelson, Jessie Nelson. We worked together on a piece of theater, and I had hoped we would work together forever after that. She made what was probably going to be the most daunting challenge of my life very comfortable and small and easy to chew.
Beyond that, you could go down the laundry list. I’ve listened to Sara’s music since I was a kid, and it’s embarrassing how much of a fan I am. But it’s [Jessie’s] vision and she brought it to life in a way that is more than I could have ever hoped to be a part of. To actually be able to see it, it blew me away.
ST: It was such a welcoming, inclusive experience, forming it with Jessie. She was so open to talking about anything all the time. And she was so busy, but would always get back to me about anything. We talked at length about everything, any discomforts, any sort of lingering thoughts that might get in the way of what mattered, which was having a lovely experience, telling a beautiful story, which is all that Jessie cared about.
CR: And being in the Star Wars extended universe [because Little Voice is produced by J.J. Abrams]. (laughs) It was cool to be like, now we’re in the universe.
BF: Little Voice is so different from any of the roles we’ve seen either of you inhabit on TV to this point. Was that part of the appeal as well? Was it a bit of a challenge?
ST: Naturally so. I guess some people might feel comfortable in not changing. I don’t even know what trick my one trick pony would be good at, but I’ve always wanted to see as much of the world as possible, feel as much of the world as possible, and play as many people as possible. And Ethan was someone that I hadn’t for a long time connected with as a character.
The X-Men show [The Gifted] was really tough and [Eclipse] was a very different kind of beast, completely more erratic, less controlled. [He]’s just as passionate as Ethan, but formed in a totally different way. And Ethan was soft and keenly intelligent. He’s an observer as opposed to an engager in that sense, which is really cool. And I hadn’t played someone like that in a story like this before.
So that was obviously a huge part of it just from my personal mind within. And obviously the people around you telling you as well, like hey, Sean, people haven’t seen this side of you. They haven’t seen you just be there to support this person and be that lovely sort of [character]. I haven’t even spoken in [an] English [accent] in eight years. I don’t remember the last time I used my own accent on set. So it was nice. It was really lovely.
CR: I’m still waiting to speak in English, too. It’s been a long struggle with my American accent. (laughs) No, for me it was very simple. I grew up doing musicals. I grew up making music. That’s kind of all I’ve known. I never thought I’d be even invited to the party that is being on TV.
And so the ultimate dream was to combine those two things, as a few very successful things have done. But this is beyond my wildest dreams, to be able to sing songs by an artist who I really enjoy and have the utmost respect for on television. I just didn’t even expect to ever be in a situation like this.
BF: Sean, how much did getting to use your natural accent help? In terms of it just being easier, but also did it have any impact on how you developed Ethan?
ST: I love America so much. I put myself as an honorary American. So I’m very grateful that some people might not notice that I’m English. But it was nice to be an Englishman in New York this time.
It felt odd. It was uncomfortable at points. But the difference in cadence really helped with the difference in character, weirdly enough. I think if I was to play him from anywhere else, it wouldn’t have seemed right. We knew that Ethan was going to be from somewhere else and that he’d come to New York for that.
Scottish was something we talked about. With the cadence it sounded okay, but we landed on English, and me and Jessie built that story around that.
BF: Since Little Voice is a show about music, it seems only natural to ask each of you what music you’re listening to at the moment. (Fans can also download the songs from the first three episodes of Little Voice here.)
CR: Phil. Just Phil. Look it up.
ST: [Phillip Johnson Richardson] plays Benny, and he’s a beautiful musician. But also, I was just telling Colton about Raleigh Ritchie, who you might know as Gray Worm on Game of Thrones. Another really great actor, but his music is astonishing. And another British band that will always be around for me, Fold, I think are outrageously good and keep on turning out really beautiful music. So I’ve just been listening to them all day again.
Little Voice is now streaming on Apple TV+. The first three episodes are available now, with future episodes premiering Fridays.