- Jonathan Groff said playing the role of Melchior in "Spring Awakening" gave him the strength to come out.
- He also said he used to be "ashamed of who he was" before he came out as gay.
- He said "playing Melchior was such a gift" because the character "cultivated this confidence, strong side of myself."
Jonathan Groff said his character in the Broadway musical "Spring Awakening" is what gave him the strength to come out as gay.
Groff came out as gay in 2008, just one month after he finished his run as Melchior in "Spring Awakening."
In a new documentary about the show, "Spring Awakening: Those You've Known," set to air on HBO Max on May 3, Groff reflected on his time in the role and said that Melchior's strength is what encouraged him to come out.
"Playing Melchior was such a gift," Groff said tearfully. "Because he was everything that I wanted to be but I wasn't. He had this ability to not let the world define him and to speak his mind and to be strong."
He said playing Melchior for two years "cultivated this confidence, strong side of myself that I didn't have in my real life."
Groff said he felt "ashamed of who he was" before coming out as gay.
"I had to come to terms with who I was. And a month after I left the show, I came out of the closet and I started my life," Groff continued. "It wasn't a quick transition. It took a long time to own my identity for the first time and then felt like 'Oh, thank god I'm this way. I'm so happy to be this way. I wouldn't want to be any other way.'"
Lea Michele, who played Groff's co-star in "Spring Awakening" and remains one of his best friends, remembered when Groff came out to her.
"He didn't say the word 'gay,'" she said in the documentary. Instead, he said "My roommate's not my roommate. He's my boyfriend," Michele recalled.
At the time, she said she responded by saying, "I know."
Michele said in the documentary that she believed to have known about Groff's sexuality since they were younger when they met on the show. She said one night she cornered him, told him she was in love with him, and asked him why he couldn't love her.
"I just saw this look in his eyes and in that moment I knew," she said. "I realized in that moment this is deep and I need to protect this."
She said she never asked him again about his sexuality.
Groff said "Spring Awakening" and playing Melchior "changed my whole life."
"Through this show and through the opportunity of getting to play this character I had grown this strength that I didn't have anywhere else to put but in my own life," Groff said.