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Josh Gad: The Manic Nerd
Almost every day, Josh Gad gets a nearly identical e-mail from a friend or family member he hasn't spoken to in years. "It always goes, 'I know you must hear this a lot, but . . . can you get me tickets to Book of Mormon?' " he says. "I tell them, 'Sorry, even I can't get tickets.' " The runaway popularity of the Matt Stone-Trey Parker Broadway musical – which stars Gad as Elder Cunningham, a sci-fi-addicted missionary trying to convert a village of Ugandans to Mormonism – has made Gad a breakout star.
Gad plays Elder Cunningham as a whirlwind of loquacious-geek energy, whether explaining Mormonism as a mix of Star Wars, Star Trek and The Lord of the Rings, or suggesting the Africans fuck frogs to cure AIDS. "I was expecting there to be major protests by Mormons," says Gad. "But the show has such a good heart that people looked beyond the edginess and saw a great, old-fashioned musical."
Gad's career took off six years ago with the Broadway musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Before that, he endured a string of rejections that nearly drove him out of acting. "I auditioned for Saturday Night Live four times, but never got past the first phase," Gad says. "When I got cast in Spelling Bee, I was about to take the LSAT."
By Andy Greene