Some actors take "break a leg" as a bit of good luck, and some apparently take it literally.
Last night's production of Rent Supposed-to-be-Live was sent into a little bit of chaos due to the fact that Brennin Hunt, who plays main character Roger, broke his foot during dress rehearsal on Saturday. Roger spends a whole lot of the show jumping around (a seriously large portion of the show), so the solution was to use footage from the dress rehearsal up until the foot got broken, and then rework the last act to work live, with Roger seated.
Many viewers were a little disappointed that Rent Live wasn't actually live, but it was a tough decision Fox had to make without understudies for its main cast members. Plus, that's kind of what the filmed dress rehearsal is for: in case of emergency.
Hunt spoke out in multiple interviews Monday morning and explained exactly how that emergency went down on Saturday night.
When we finished "What You Own," when we climbed the ladders," Jordan [Fisher] and I had to run, all the way through the commercial break, downstage, across the scaffolding and down two flights of stairs to do our quick change for the finale," Hunt told Variety. "And we made it down one flight and we came around the next flight, and I was jumping off that last step to make a left, and my right foot just rolled over, and I snapped a bone in the arch of my foot. And I immediately dropped and was in a lot of pain, and I knew it wasn't good because even with my in-ear monitors I could hear it snap."
Hunt tried to convince himself it was just a sprain and he could work through it, but a trip to the ER, which lasted until nearly 2 a.m. proved it was definitely not just a sprain.
"I thought to myself, "I've ruined the show for everybody," because they've been planning this for years," Hunt told TVLine. "We've been rehearsing for months and months and months. All of that negative stuff started coming through my head, the tears and all of that. [Executive producer] Marc Platt came over to me and said, 'Calm down. You didn't ruin anything. Quit apologizing. We'll figure this out.' He was just super sweet. He came to the ER with me, every step of the way."
"We just kind of assumed nothing was going to happen and moved forward--the show would go on," he said in the Variety interview. "I know they've had history—I think Aaron [Tveit] sprained his ankle or something the night before Grease Live. I've heard story after story of people pushing through pain, but this was the first time I think anyone's broken it."
Hunt was told he couldn't put weight on the foot if he didn't want to have surgery, so even walking in a boot wasn't going to work.
"So we made do with what we had."
While the TV audience watched the pre-recorded version from Saturday, there was still a live studio audience on Sunday that got to watch a different version of the show.
"We came out for Act II and pretty much performed, in concert style for that live audience, while the broadcast was going on in sync," he said in the ut it wasn't the [planned] staging. We would literally just move from one section to the next. We were just improvising. And it turned out to be such a beautiful evening. I'm so glad that they captured it, because there were so many beautiful moments from last night. I hope that they release all of that at some point. I had a fun point with "Another Day" with Tinashe, wheeling around in a wheelchair. She's pushing me around. And again, I can't reiterate enough how it is the essence of love. What we had last night, that is the real-life Rent… I think they'll release it at some point."
When it came time for the live portion, which picked up for the final act directly after Hunt had broken his foot in the Saturday version, Hunt just sat on the table with his foot propped up on the chair. That wasn't a huge change from the original staging, which had Roger picking Mimi up before settling on the table.
"It was very moving. It was amazing. Normally I'm on my feet and I'm moving around and when they carry Mimi in I run to Brandon Victor [Dixon] and I carry Mimi in. I'm on my feet more. But by the time I get to the table and I sing "Your Eyes," that was the position I'm always in. I just had my leg propped on a chair. It was essentially the same other than me running out and grabbing Mimi and putting her on the table."
While it wasn't that different and all he had to do was sit on the table, the broken foot aspect still made the scene a lot more challenging.
"It was actually more challenging, honestly, to have my foot up and have this big boot on and try to stay in character with my foot elevated," he said to Variety. "And then even the leaning down to lift Tinashe up off the table hurt really bad. Maybe it helped in the character. But it was pretty uncomfortable for me, honestly—especially staging the thing for months and then, 'Oh you're not doing that!'"
The injury also made it totally impossible for Hunt to participate in the big finale, when the original Broadway cast was joined by their Rent Live counterparts and sang "Seasons of Love." Hunt had to remain on the table, but that didn't mean he couldn't enjoy the moment with original Broadway Roger, Adam Pascal.
"I was just trying to soak it all in," Hunt told TVLine. "I was kind of like a spectator just watching this magical thing go down. And then Adam Pascal made his way over to me and hugged me, and he actually said something very sweet and funny. He said, "I know you probably don't want to hear this right now, but'—he pointed at my foot —'that's the best thing that ever happened to you. You're trending everywhere right now.'"
And he was, so there are probably worse ways this could have gone.
Rent Live aired on Fox.