Playing Evan Goldman, Eli Golden is the star at the center of Netflix’s 13: The Musical adaptation — and rightly so. As you’ll see in our interview, Golden just has that something special about him that we can’t quite put into words. Though we’re pretty sure the word appears in our upcoming review, “charisma” doesn’t seem to cut it. It’s a start…but it’s not quite right.
Maybe it’s just that he loves what he does — all aspects of it — and you can tell when you see his performance. Or, maybe it’s his humility, in spite of his incredible talent. Even though he’s the lead in 13: The Musical, when we asked Golden about creating the musical elements themselves, he said of the film’s other young talent, “they’re all better singers than me.” Eli even admitted to feeling “out of place in the beginning of rehearsals.”
(Side note: For the record? There’s nothing out of place about Eli Golden in this film. But, sadly, we also know what it’s like to see how great the people around us are and feel like we’re not on their level.)
But he didn’t stop there. After describing how one of the best harmonies came about — purely a genius suggestion by composer Jason Robert Brown in the studio — he then heaped praise on costar JD McCrary. “He has such a cool voice. And he is such an amazing dancer, as well. I mean, he freestyled some of his moves…There were moments where he was — that’s just JD dancing.”
Golden’s praise for his costars and collaborators wasn’t all that impressed us, though. He had some really thoughtful comments about 13: The Musical‘s themes. In the first place, the movie really highlights how difficult growing up can be. “This project, in all, is super important to really showing the world that it’s not easy to grow up. You find this time portion of your life where you’re not young, but you’re not old. And it’s really hard to navigate that,” he told us. We were all that age at some point, and there’s so much going on. So, he just wants the world to remember to “take it easy on us kids.”
Then, there’s the family aspect of the story and its message. There’s a struggle with his dad, played by the “crazy tall” Peter Hermann, who Golden “really loved working with.” So, what do we learn from the journey the father/son duo go through? According to this young star, “I feel like Evan’s relationship with his father is a really good showing of, just in the world…you need to forgive people.” That’s a message we’re still working on learning ourselves. (And one yours truly will be going hard on around the High Holy Days).
But perhaps the best part of talking to Eli Golden about 13: The Musical, if we’re being honest, was the way he reacted when we mentioned part of his character’s bar mitzvah service. The second we used the word “d’var,” his face lit up because he knew exactly which song we meant. And, as one does, he busted out the lyrics to the musical number in question that is, basically, Evan’s d’var Torah in the film.
But just…the way Golden basically gives a d’var on Evan’s d’var in our interview…Let’s just say it blew us away. And we hope, when you see his performance, you’ll feel the same way.
Watch our full interview with Eli Golden below…
…and don’t miss 13: The Musical, streaming exclusively on Netflix on August 12.