Prior to landing roles in 2015’s “Jurassic World” and now the colead in “A Teacher” on FX on Hulu, Nick Robinson grew up in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood with a love of movies and a big imagination that found a home at Broadway Bound Children’s Theatre.
“It was my first introduction to acting, to playing a character, to being in front of an audience and it definitely changed my life,” Robinson says.
Robinson had a four-year run as Turkey Boy in ACT Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol” and at age 12 he played Jem Finch in Intiman Theatre’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” under then-artistic director Bartlett Sher.
Robinson reprised the Finch role in Sher’s Broadway production of “Mockingbird” just before the pandemic closed live theaters nationwide.
Robinson says Sher unknowingly laid the groundwork for Robinson’s Hollywood big break when Sher brought composer Adam Guettel’s “The Light in the Piazza” to Intiman for a pre-Broadway run in 2003 when Robinson was 8. Guettel dated a Robinson family friend and became one of the first people outside Robinson’s immediate family to say, “Hey, I think you might have something,” introducing Robinson to his first L.A. agents.
Robinson attended Seattle Prep for the first half of his freshman year of high school but moved to L.A. when he booked a series regular role on the 2010-15 cable sitcom “Melissa & Joey.”
More parts followed, including the title role in the 2018 feature film “Love, Simon,” the first gay teen rom-com produced by a major Hollywood studio. Earlier this year, Robinson provided voice-over narration and reprised the role of Simon in an episode of the Hulu series “Love, Victor,” which follows a different teen who questions his sexual identity while attending Simon’s old high school. (Robinson says he doesn’t think he’ll be heard or seen in season two.)
“A Teacher,” streaming on FX on Hulu starting Nov. 10, tells the story of a female teacher, Claire (Kate Mara), who develops a sexual relationship with a high school senior in her English class, Eric (Robinson), over 10 half-hour episodes.
Growing up in Seattle, Robinson says he at some point heard about the infamous case of Mary Kay Letourneau, a teacher at Burien’s Shorewood Elementary who pleaded guilty to child rape after having sex with one of her sixth-grade students. Robinson says his research for his “A Teacher” role involved speaking to a psychologist who specializes in male trauma and had been through a similar experience as Eric in the show.
“In a way this series makes the audience complicit in Claire and Eric’s relationship, at least at the beginning,” Robinson says. “It makes you root for them only to have the rug pulled out in later episodes.”
While its subject matter has previously been fodder for plot arcs on teen dramas “Dawson’s Creek” and “Riverdale,” “A Teacher” spends more time on the aftermath of the affair, which becomes public midway through the limited series.
“The show explores what these people go through once the media frenzy is over,” Robinson says. “It also explores male survivors and how they internalize abuse … and how that abuse is sometimes celebrated. I think there are gonna be a lot of varying opinions on how much was Eric abused and how intentional was Claire in her grooming of Eric.”
Robinson is currently in Vancouver, B.C., filming Netflix’s upcoming miniseries “Maid,” based on the Port Townsend-set memoir “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive” by Stephanie Land. Robinson says part of his interest in the story of a young, single mom facing socio-economic injustice was its Washington setting.
After our initial interview, Robinson called back a few days later.
“I recently got an email from my godmother saying Broadway Bound is in financial trouble due to the pandemic and they’re in danger of closing down,” he says. “It would be a real shame if the city were to lose it. If people have the means, I hope they can go to BroadwayBound.org and make a donation to help keep this program alive.”