John Legend Interview: ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’
“I’m excited for the possibility of being in that rare group of people who have won all four of those awards,” says John Legend about the possibility of achieving EGOT this year. Only 12 people in history have ever won the grand slam of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards. Legend has won all of them but Emmy, but he could cross that last one off of his list as the star and producer of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” which was staged as a live TV musical by NBC. Watch our exclusive video interview with Legend above.
“It’s hard to turn down playing Jesus Christ,” says Legend about the opportunity to take on the title role in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice‘s rock opera. “It was a challenge for sure,” but less because of the pressures of the role than because “the last time I was in a stage musical was when I was in high school, and I never had the lead role.” On the other hand, “Jesus Christ Superstar” was easier in some ways than one of his usual concerts “because in my shows I have almost two hours straight of me singing everything,” while “Superstar” is an ensemble piece where a number of other actors — including Sara Bareilles, Brandon Victor Dixon and Norm Lewis — were showcased in their own musical numbers.
But while he could make history with Emmy wins this fall, “you can’t go into it thinking, ‘I want to get an award for this.’ You have to go into it thinking, ‘I want this to be the best production we can possibly make it.’ And then the awards will come,” Legend explains. “They don’t always come when you think you might have done the best work, but if you do the best work then your chances are better of getting an award. So I feel like we did the best we could do.”
Interestingly, Legend won his Oscar with Common for co-writing the song “Glory” for the movie “Selma.” Common just won a songwriting Emmy in 2017, which means he only needs a Tony to wrap up his EGOT. But Legend insists, “We’re not in a race. He’ll probably get a Tony before it’s all said and done, and hopefully we’ll both make it to that rarefied space.”