Gleeks were introduced to Nolan Gerard Funk’s Hunter Clarington (a.k.a. the conniving, cat-petting new head of the Warblers) in last Thursday’s superhero-themed “Dynamic Duets” episode of Glee. Fans will be happy to know that the Canadian actor is here to stay.
“I’m shooting my third [episode] right now and there’ll be more Hunter this season,” Funk tells TV Guide Canada.
The 26-year-old was actually in Canada when he found out the Glee role was his. “I had gotten on a plane to Vancouver to see my family and someone special out there,” he recalls. “And then the next day at like 11 o’clock at night, we’re having dinner and I was in the car and I just got this call that I booked Glee. I had to be back on a plane to literally go from LAX straight to Paramount [Studios] the next day.”
Funk, who admits he auditioned multiple times for the Fox hit, says he’s having a blast on the show.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been on a set where there’s so many different characters shooting at once,” he says. “I was definitely nervous coming into such a tight-knit family. But as soon as I got on set, everyone made me feel really welcome.”
Unlike Hunter, who he describes as “a boss and just a really strong, kind of a different character,” Funk wasn’t involved in any glee clubs or school plays when he was in high school.
“I played a lot of sports growing up and then when I got into acting; it was sort of outside of school because I started working professionally in my early teens,” he reveals. “So, I never really had time to commit. And to be honest, I wasn’t super popular in high school or anything. I don’t know if I would have gotten the roles I deserved.”
Despite not having any prior glee club experience, singing and dancing aren’t new to Funk. He starred alongside Victoria Justice in 2009’s Spectacular!, Nickelodeon’s answer to High School Musical, and nabbed the lead role in the recent Broadway revival of Bye Bye Birdie. Although Glee is a music-heavy show, Funk says it’s different from his other projects.
“Getting to do a song on Glee, I mean it was really nice to be challenged; having to learn a bunch of choreography and really just finding the vibe of a song that maybe people wouldn’t typically give me to sing,” he says. “That’s one of the interesting things about the show … it’s always going against type and I love that.”
This week’s episode, “Thanksgiving,” will see the McKinley High gang competing at sectionals. Funk promises his character will put up a (vocal) fight.
“This week is sectionals, so Hunter’s main focus in the show is winning. And perhaps world domination as well,” he jokes. “So you’re not going to be seeing my cat that you met in the first episode. But you are going to be seeing some singing and some dancing.”
Funk will sing a duet and is the lead vocal on another track he describes as “a racy song choice.”
“It might even end up being a little controversial, but we’ll see,” he says.
He wouldn’t reveal the song’s name, but he hinted that its hook can be interpreted in many different ways. Judging by the track list that Fox released, it looks like “Whistle,” by Flo Rida is a safe bet.
Next up for Funk is a role alongside Vin Diesel in Riddick and a part opposite Lindsay Lohan in The Canyons, a controversial new indie from Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho) and Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver).
“I play this guy who when you first meet me in the film, I’m very sort of wholesome and then as the film goes on my character just sort of gets dragged through the mud,” he says about his character in the movie. “And shit gets really bad.”
The Canadian actor says he might have more big-screen projects coming up, but in the meantime he’s focusing on Glee. “I feel really lucky and I just hope everybody keeps responding positively to Hunter,” he says.
Glee airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on Global/Fox.