James: My intent was not to make it bad. My intent was to try to come off as a guy who wasn't singing for a living like Katharine McPhee or Megan Hilty. I couldn't do that even if I was trying to sound as good as they sing. But it was an interesting challenge. By no means did I go there and say, 'I'm really going to stink!' It was an interesting acting challenge in a way. You want it to be good enough to make it fit into the system but also distinct enough and believable enough.
AP: On stage, will it be leather pants or black tie?
James: No pants! I'm thinking no pants for at least the first three songs. I have the same style I had in the eighth grade, the equivalent of me playing Atari in my basement — that's about the height of my sartorial eloquence. So I've had to really think about these things. I definitely want to represent the class of this room, which is such a stunning room but also perhaps not to be so dressed up. Usually when I'm singing in concert, I'm in a bowtie or a formal suit. It would be nice not to wear a tie but hopefully look good enough so they don't kick me out.
AP: Will you be returning to "Smash"?
James: I can tell you that I'm coming back for at least one episode — where I sing for the whole hour! That's what I pitched them. I said, 'I think the first season should have been all Frank's dream and it should be retitled "Frank!'" That didn't go over with the NBC executives. The truth is that I will be used in a much, much more limited way. I know I'm coming back for one. The door is open for them to use me as they see fit dramatically, but I would guess that once Frank is out the door, he's going to pack up his knives and leave.
AP: On balance, how has the experience of "Smash" been? You've had to give up opportunities to stick with it, on the one hand, but it must have offered a lot of exposure, on the other.
James: Net-plus, for sure. Having a season under my belt, I learned so much. And the consistency of doing it was something I really enjoyed and benefited from. While it did kind of put a pause on some things theatrically, I think it's only really helped, especially in terms of perception. That's such a huge thing in this industry and in that sense it might make a producer a little less queasy to hire someone who's not Hugh Jackman. These are all steps forward for me.
Follow Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.