Rannells became a star from his Tony-nominated lead role in The Book of Mormon during its original Broadway run, and can currently be seen on Girls, which is kicking off its sixth and final season Feb. 12th. But way before all that, Rannells was a voice actor on a semi-forgotten '90s animated show called Street Sharks.
Street Sharks was a series about four teenage boys who were "gene-slammed" with shark DNA to create crime-fighting shark/man hybrids. It ran for three seasons from 1994 to 1997. It was in the news last year as a cautionary tale about fact-checking when a writer for Geek.com revealed that as a middle schooler in the early 2000s, he made up episodes and characters that eventually became part of the official online record of the show.
But Rannells remembers it fondly, because it was his first professional gig. He was still in high school when he voiced Streex, a tiger sharkboy with six-pack abs and rollerblades (hey, it was the '90s!)
"I was like 16 years old in Omaha, Nebraska, doing that cartoon," Rannells reminisced to TVGuide.com on the red carpet at the Girls Season 6 premiere at Lincoln Center Thursday night.
How he got the gig is a "long story," but he did a lot of voice work on animated shows as a teenager in Omaha, including Street Sharks, because the producers wanted "regional dialect" -- "and it was cheap, let's be honest."
Would Rannells participate in a Street Sharks reboot if asked?
That's an enthusiastic "Hell yeah!"
"I always sort of felt like we were the poor man's Ninja Turtles," he said, "but I was happy to be a part of it."
There are no known plans to reboot Street Sharks at this time, but the appetite for nostalgic reboots seems bottomless. They keep making Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies and people keep seeing them, so maybe Street Sharks' time will come.
Rannells was also the voice of Archie Andrews on the 1999 animated series Archie's Weird Mysteries. Archie, the long-running comics character, is in the midst of a reboot on Riverdale, a show that acknowledges its predecessors in a meta way -- as seen in the casting of Beverly Hills 90210's Luke Perry and Twin Peaks' Madchen Amick. So Rannells would be a perfect self-referential guest star.
He hasn't seen the show yet, but says that would be "very cool." So get on it, Riverdale producers!
Girls Season 6 premieres Sunday, Feb. 12 at 10/9c.