Noah Weisberg On Super Pumped, Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, And More - Exclusive Interview

Sometimes, an actor is so thoroughly entertaining that we truly believe they can do anything. That might be the case for Noah Weisberg, who's currently appearing in Season 1 of Showtime's "Super Pumped." Weisberg's prior credits include being cast on "Modern Family," "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist," and "Major Crimes," and through all of these roles, the actor has proven that he can elevate any script into gold, a la Rumpelstiltskin.

Weisberg has been acting on the stage for years just as he has been on the screen. As noted by his website, he's toured musicals like "Grease" and "Big," and he's starred as the eponymous character in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — The Musical." Appearing in "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist" allowed him to combine his worlds to both sing and act for the world.

"Super Pumped," on the other hand, sees Weisberg playing a brilliant engineer named Quentin, someone who elevates Uber's technology to new heights. After all, a ride sharing app can't become as massive as it is now if there isn't solid technology backing it up. He's joined by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the lead role, with Kyle Chandler, Uma Thurman, and more tackling large roles as well.

Luckily, we got the chance to sit down with Weisberg recently. There, he told us not only what it was like to work on "Super Pumped" but also about his experiences on "Modern Family" and "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist" (Hint: He doesn't know if he'd still accept his "Modern Family" role today, and his favorite "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist" song is from Season 2).

Noah Weisberg explains his Super Pumped character's story arc

What can you tell us and tease about the remainder of Season 1 of "Super Pumped"?

Well, it keeps getting crazier and more intense. We've already seen these laws that these guys have broken to get this company off the ground. I always try to think, "Okay, did they start with good intentions?" We want to make money and create a thing, that's fine. We want to get people work and we want to get people from one place to another, and then they got carried away. Was it always malicious? At least, as an actor, I try to think, "Oh, we all started as the characters wanting to do this thing."

That will change the world, and then you get carried away. Not that that's an excuse at all, but it keeps getting more intense and Uma comes in this episode. To watch her work was incredible. She's so focused and professional and still fun, but [she's] there to do her work and that was awesome watching her. There's some really crazy twists and turns coming.

I can't wait. What can you tell us about your story arc on this season?

Well, I think the fun thing about my character is that I start off as this sweet guy who's a tech guy and loves computers and ... can't even believe that I got this job and that I'm there with Travis and these people that I've admired and looked up to, and then I start to get carried away.

There's that moment where you, as a guy in this world or person in this world, you get that assignment like, "Hey, will you build this super illegal thing that's really going to make us a lot of money?" There's more of that to come. And then, you see how I start to deal with the younger people who are now also coming in and what advice I might give them about that transition.

On working with Joseph Gordon-Levitt

You have this really great moment at the end of Episode 1 where you're like, "I am an a**hole," and it's this amazing, hilarious moment, maybe even a little unexpected. What was your reaction when you first read that and filmed it?

I was like, every ex-girlfriend's going to watch this and be like, "I knew it." That's personal. First of all, it's a fun line to get to say, to get to look at Joseph Gordon-Levitt and be like, "I'm an a**hole." It also is, again, that moment of having a character get to make a choice of, I'm going to put my morals aside and become this thing and almost take pride in it. It wasn't an apology for being it, it was pride.

What a weird thing. I get it, the pressure, like, "Yes, I'm in this fraternity now."

It was this really great moment. I mean, have you seen that as applicable to the entertainment industry where you sort of have to be more like, I don't know, cut tooth or, is that applicable?

I don't think so. I feel like if you look at the numbers in terms of competition as an actor, a writer, director, producer, they're crazy. Everything's backed against us. Not intentionally, [but] everyone wants to do this awesome, crazy business. I always think, there's not actually competition against anyone else. I can't physically out-sing some guy. I can only be the most prepared I can be.

My type, handsome leading man, is either going to be what they want or not. I never really got that cutthroat competition feeling. A lot of that has to do with my training at NYU and them instilling that in us on day one, saying, "You were probably star of your high school, right?" Everyone's like, "hmm," and then, "Look around, look around. All the other stars are also sitting next to you, so get over it. We're all going to start from scratch."

I like that mentality of, you're really competing against yourself. I feel like that applies to, really, everything in life. In "Super Pumped" specifically, you're working side by side with Joseph Gordon-Levitt for a lot of the show. What was working with him really like?

He's such a great guy ... It was educational because, like I mentioned with Uma, [he's] super focused, there to do his job. Unlike anyone else in the show, he's got 9,000 lines per scene.

On combining his interests and talents in his projects

He has to focus, but he's kind and generous to work with. Again, super focused, so for someone like me who gets to come into the show and have some great moments with him and then sit and also watch his work and watch a lot of these guys, they're ... The men and the women on the show are so good and there's stars that are about to burst into the universe that we're seeing like my buddy Babak, on the show, plays Emil. It's an education, but also super fun because there's nonstop joking around and laughter the second they yell "Cut."

Were you a fan of his before the show or was this maybe your first introduction to him?

No, I was a fan. It was nice to get to see... I always have this thing where people I look up to, that I admire talent wise, career wise, I'm like, "Oh, please be a nice person. Please be." When you get to meet somebody like Joe — now I'm slightly on the inside, so I get to call him Joe — and you're like, "Oh, you're a kind person, you're a family person and you care about your career, but you also care equally or maybe obviously more about your family and humanity and what's going on in the world." This feels great when you look up to people and they're just as kind as they are talented.

We're going to switch gears a little bit because I want to touch on some of your other work, too. I wanted to touch on "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist," which I love. It seems like "Glee" really paved the way for more musical series to come out. On that show, what was your experience? I know you've done theater and musicals, so it seems like that show really combined all of your interests.

That show was a gift to everybody involved. Austin Winsberg, who created the show, it was a really personal story for him because it was really, he was Zoey. The dad was his dad, basically, in the show. It meant so much to him, and at the same time, as close as he was to the project and every funny and heartfelt word that he and his writers wrote, there was this freedom to still play around and improv a little bit. That's not a dig on any other show, because you can't do that on a fast-paced drama.

On his favorite Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist song

"Super Pumped," you can't be like, "I'm going to throw in a bit," but to have the confidence that Austin and his directors had to say, "Yeah, on take two if you have a funny line, throw it in. We'll see," that generosity trickled down from him and Jane, our incredible lead, who like Joe on "Super Pumped," doesn't have a moment to breathe. That was really one of the most special experiences, and also to do it in the heat of the pandemic — to feel really fortunate to get to do this thing that we love to do, it's such a high level with such wonderful people in one of the worst times ever. [It] was a real gift.

You got to perform some amazing songs on the show. I know you did Nicki Minaj's "Starships," which is so fun. I'm curious to know if you have a favorite song that you performed on the show?

That might be my favorite episode that I got to be a part of, the "Starships" episode, because they started to develop Danny Michael Davis' character a little bit so he wasn't just this wacky guy. There's that great scene in Zoey's mom's house where we're all sitting around the table and eating popsicles. You got to see a little glimpse into why Danny is such a crazy person, almost, like what's happening in "Super Pumped." I had some little monologue about like, "This isn't how I thought it would go." That's where I got that idea of the heart of the people in "Super Pumped" who seem heartless, that they're kids who grew up loving computers and want to change the world and they get carried away. I love that. Getting to do "Pure Imagination," which was a little Easter egg to having played Willy Wonka on a Broadway tour, was really fun, because they don't tell you what your song's going to be.

On portraying a queer character on television over a decade ago

They tell you, obviously, but they don't tell you in advance. They're like, "Okay, and here's the episode and here's your song," because they really take pride in choosing great songs for "Zoey's." That was really fun to do the song that I had sung 300, 400 times on the road, in a totally different way.

Do you have a favorite song performed by another cast member?

Oh God, it's really hard. I really like Alice and Skylar and John. Everybody on that show's voice, I would watch them and be like, "Oh my God, you're so much better than me. Oh that's ... You're so talented." That's like saying, who's your favorite sibling? It's my younger brother. Oh no, I'm kidding . It's really hard, but  ... I would, just as excitedly as any other "Zoey's" fan, I couldn't wait to watch the episode. Not because I was in it, but I love that cast. I thought they were so good.

Switching gears to another very close knit family of a show. You are on "Modern Family." One thing I always find really interesting is, on "Modern Family" you got to play a queer character. Back in 2013, diversity wasn't as great as it is now on the screen. How was that, portraying that diversity almost a decade ago?

That's an interesting thing because we've come a long way and we still have a gazillion miles to go. This is an ongoing conversation for me with friends. I'm so proud of being on the show and proud of what I got to do on it, but I don't know that I would play that role today or that I should play that role today. It's a comedy, so there was a heightened element to it. That's such a tricky ... as an actor, again, I'm so happy to have the job. I'm a musical theater guy, [and I] happen to be a very liberal person. I am surrounded by beautiful queer friends that are more like family than friends. I feel surrounded by it, but it's not me.

On whether he'd play a queer character today

That's always that interesting thing of like, well, where is that [line] drawn? You're a murderer on "Law & Order," you're auditioning. Do you have to murder somebody? That's very different, but that's sometimes the argument. Do I have to be exactly the character? Well, no, but we're also talking about groups that are underrepresented on TV and it's like, well, here's a chance to actually cast a gay man in this role. Especially ten years ago, there was even less representation and we still, again, have a long way to go.

I'm stumbling at it because I don't know the answer and ... My best friend, Josh Walden, who's a great Broadway performer and director and choreographer, we were just having this talk. I don't know the answers. It's not really my job [or] my place to make those decisions, but I'm excited to see where it [goes] because I feel like it's moving in the right direction.

That was a great answer, and it was great to see that representation almost a decade ago.

Yeah, and now you've got "Better Nate Than Ever" coming out for Disney and Rueby [Wood], who's the lead of it, was one of our awesome Charlies on the road. Look him up on Instagram. He's about to be a huge, huge star, which he already was in our eyes, but in terms of representation and at a young age.

Noah Weisberg reveals what's next for him

For kids, it's one thing to see a grown up portraying that on TV, but to see someone that's a young teen, I think he's going to help so many young kids start to find some comfort or safety or security or even a way to have a conversation. For Disney to produce it, there's progress I'm very proud of. [I'm] really proud of Rueby [Wood] for bringing himself to everything he does.

I can't wait to see it! What can you tell us about what's next for you?

I finished a film that I wrote and directed and produced a little while ago, starring me because I cast myself and Kimiko Glenn, from "Orange is the New Black" and I think every other TV show that has ever ... She literally doesn't stop working. I'm working with my reps to try to finalize where that's going to land, in terms of a streaming platform. I'm excited for people to see that, because with the pandemic and everything, it's been sitting there. [It will be] so good to finally get that out there. Otherwise, like every other actor, I'm auditioning, and also I'm a writer, so I'm writing my next thing. For now, I get to enjoy week by week watching "Super Pumped" with everybody.

New episodes of "Super Pumped" air on Sundays at 10:00 p.m. ET every week on Showtime. Episodes are also available for streaming and on demand for Showtime subscribers.