Interview: Brody Grant Talks About His Love of Writing and His Role as Ponyboy

Grant stars in the new Broadway musical The Outsiders.

Jason Schmidt and Brody Grant appear in The Outsiders, directed by Danya Taymor, at Broadway’s Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre.
(© Matthew Murphy)

Brody Grant needs to write. His mind can become a minefield if he doesn’t put pen to paper. “Sometimes I wake up from dreams with new melodies in my head, and I can’t go back to sleep until I’ve recorded them,” says Grant.

He stars in the stage adaptation of The Outsiders, where he plays 14-year-old aspiring novelist Ponyboy Curtis, the moody narrator who longs to escape all-consuming poverty. The show is based on S.E. Hinton’s beloved novel, and Grant brings Ponyboy to life with charisma, heart, and tenderness.

During the pre-show, Grant is seen onstage jotting in a notebook long before he utters his first line. The curiosity Grant and Ponyboy share is evident in what Grant writes in that journal, even though those musings aren’t public.

The Broadway newcomer caught up with TheaterMania about his similarities with his character and the invaluable role of friendships and creative collaborators in his journey.

Emma Pittman plays Cherry Valance, and Brody Grant plays Ponyboy Curtis in The Outsiders on Broadway.
(© Matthew Murphy)

This conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.

What about Ponyboy connected with you?
When reading the novel, I connected with Ponyboy because of his loyalty to his friends. He hypes up his friends and learns a lot from them. Even when they give each other a hard time, even when he feels alone, he leans on them. I also grew up in places where being artistic was not necessarily the norm or the cool thing. I really get Ponyboy in that way.

So much of The Outsiders hinges on having solid chemistry as a group. Are there ways that you have bonded or general interests that you share?
After every fight call, we circle up and take a collective breath together. We make sure to share some words if we have any in our hearts. It’s a beautiful thing that [director] Danya [Taymor] implemented right away in our rehearsal process. I’m so grateful we do it. It helps us to know that we’re all more than cogs in a machine. We’re a family of artists!

What roles do collaborators play in what you do?
What we do as artists is catch lightning in bottles. Someone has to provide the ideas or the action (the lighting), and someone has to organize it and make it real and beautiful (the bottle). Often, those roles reverse and switch pretty consistently, and that’s the beauty of it.

Brody Grant (front and center) plays Ponyboy in the new Broadway musical The Outsiders.
(© Matthew Murphy)

The Outsiders is a heavy show but quite dynamic. It is also coming at a time when young people are finding theater again. What is your take on this?
Ponyboy is a kid who faces a lot of loss and hardship very early in life. As a young person who grew up with social media, I was exposed to many things early because of that. I think a lot of people can resonate with that feeling. How am I supposed to take all this in? How do I stop comparing, fearing, or judging when everything is seemingly right there on my phone? How do we just enjoy the beauty in the simple things? I’m glad this generation of young people can hopefully feel seen in that way and be given hope.

You have presumably poured much of yourself into Ponyboy and your music, but when do you feel most like you?
There’s a moment right before the show starts where I’m journaling onstage as the audience filters in. I often write poetry, set an intention, or journal a conversation between Ponyboy and myself. At that moment, I feel so much like myself and Ponyboy at the same time. Like Ponyboy, I’m a writer. In my personal life, I write songs rather than novels, at least so far.

If you could tell readers who are just now meeting you one thing about yourself, what would it be?
It’s my dream to be in the 10th Quentin Tarantino film. I think they might already be working on it, but this is me putting it out into the universe. I also want to make music with Daniel Caesar, Jon Bellion, Bob Dylan, and Dominic Fike. I love their work. Their music really saved me a few times.


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