Jordan Fisher discovered High School Musical: The Musical: The Series while he was on Broadway playing the title role in Dear Evan Hansen after his castmates recommended he check out the witty Disney+ series. A two-and-a-half day binge-watch soon followed and he was hooked. Fisher took to Twitter to praise the show, as well as leads Olivia Rodrigo and Joshua Bassett, which caught the attention of creator/showrunner Tim Federle, whose background is also in theater. "I tweeted him that I was a big fan and I think he responded to me," Fisher recalls to ET. "I followed him and then he DMed me... It was a sweet moment. It cannot wait for people to be surprised."
A year and a half later, Fisher enters the HSMTMTS universe as Jamie Porter, a successful, talented music producer (not far-fetched from reality!) who also happens to be Gina's (Sofia Wylie) absent older brother, in Friday's penultimate episode of season 2. His reappearance in Gina's life, right before the final act of East High's spring production of Beauty and the Beast, comes at a crucial time for the high schooler. The two siblings share a sentimental moment after Jamie expresses how proud he is of what she's accomplished so far before flying out to Los Angeles for a potential new gig.
Though Fisher only appears in one episode this season, he's hoping his guest spot leads to more in the future -- if the stars align and his busy schedule allows. "Maybe Tim has some ideas for Jamie," he quipped. (Fun fact: Fisher is the third star from the musical to appear on HSMTMTS, after Andrew Barth Feldman and Roman Banks.) Over a recent Zoom interview, Fisher details how his HSMTMTS appearance came to fruition, playing Gina's older brother, working with Wylie and how Jamie would feel about Gina and EJ's growing sparks.
ET: How did your guest appearance on High School Musical: The Musical: The Series come to be?
Jordan Fisher: You can go and find the interaction between me and Tim Federle [from last February] on Twitter. That's how it started. When I was working on Dear Evan Hansen pre-COVID, the whole cast was obsessed with the show. Everyone was like, "Oh my gosh, Jordan. Are you watching High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, the saga, the series, the trilogy, the saga, the series?" And I'm like, "No, I'm not. I'm sure that I will at some point in time. I loved the films. They were great." They were like, "No, no. It's nothing like that. It's very meta. It's dope. You need to check this out." And I did, watched the whole first season in two and a half days. I just fell in love. I fell in love with the show, with the cast -- some of the most talented people in the world -- but what I really grabbed from it and what hit me so hard was the fact that it was so evident that it's a cast of theater kids.
Like, that's my people. That's what I grew up with. That's my joy. I looked Tim up and I was like, "Oh my god. I know this guy's work." I tweeted him that I was a big fan and I think he responded to me. I followed him and then he DMed me. He was like, "I'm diving into your DMs." It was a sweet moment. Haven't spoken about it since. So I know people have forgotten about it entirely and it's one of the best-kept secrets. It's been so great. I cannot wait for people to be surprised.
Your character, Jamie, is a successful music producer and Gina's older brother. Can you tell us a little more about who you play and what you hope to explore in the future?
We'll hopefully learn more about Jamie. There's definitely some rich family history there. If you know anything about Gina, you'd know that there's complexity in the family dynamic. That's the big thing, right? And we are aware of this. This is not defining of this character, it's not defining of Sofia's performance and the choices that she makes for this character. However, it is something that she needs, so beautifully allowed to exist for any audience member that chooses to receive that, which is really, really great. Exploring really complex family dynamics is something that I like a lot. I have a very complex family dynamic as well. This is common knowledge that I'm adopted and that there's older siblings in my life that have drug abuse and some other family members of my life that have done different things that have led people to where they are that makes things very fragmented.
Hopefully we will learn more about Jamie and where he came from and why he is back in everyone's lives. But I think at the end of the day, the thing that's really evident is that he has missed his sister a lot and loves her to death. And it's obviously a very powerful moment for her as well. I think that the question mark of "Is he actually going to be here now? Is he actually going to be in my life now ?" is a very important question that will hopefully be answered.
The hallway scene where Jamie surprises Gina during the spring production and they share an emotional sibling reunion was incredibly heartwarming. Can you talk about filming that scene with Sofia?
It's actually very, very sweet. I remember meeting Sofia years ago at a dance studio at an audition that I was one of the auditioners. I was like, "Oh my god, that girl's so good. She's fantastic." Her parents remembered. She did not. She was like, "Jordan, I'm so excited to meet you. We've been so thrilled that you're coming." I'm like, "We've met before." She was like, "No, we haven't." And her dad came later and was like, "Man, it's good to see you!" It's really nice when, as an actor, you feel in your career a dynamic shift when you join something that's been going for a while. But when you've done that enough and you build a reputation where he's a good person to work with and nice, when you walk onto set, people greet you with warmth and love and appreciation that you're there. And truly that started with Sofia. She's just wonderful, such a beautiful actor. So smart, so kind and you feel that in her work as well. It's very empathetic and full of heart.
Your appearance left me wanting more. Is there potential for Jamie to return and what would you like to see if the stars aligned?
I would love to see Jamie return. That's the other thing with introducing brand new characters. I think that people get very strange about ownership over characters and shows and whatnot. If I'm in your home every day on a streaming platform and you have the ability to pause and rewind and fast-forward and pause me again, I understand the ownership. I'm in your home, I'm in a part of your life, you're watching the show that I'm doing with my cast with your family or with your friends. There's a familiarity there, but a lot of things that people don't necessarily know about, like introducing new characters, is that if things start to feel forced in how episodes are written to maintain the relevance of this character, then you're no longer benefiting the show. I don't ever want to be a part of something that is not beneficial or positively impactful. I'm the first person to be like, "This feels forced. I'm good. I don't like that." I think it's disrespectful to fans. If I can catch that, I want to catch that and be able to be aware of that and move forward. But this is one episode and we'll see. We'll see how people feel, how people respond. Maybe Tim has some ideas for Jamie.
There's a scene between Jamie and EJ in the hallway, where Jamie essentially considers EJ a big brother type to Gina. But obviously there's something more going on with them. How do you think Jamie would feel if he learned the truth about Gina and EJ, and them getting close?
As an uncle and as a brother, I definitely think that with a little context, Jamie would probably play the big brother power play, like, "I'm a famous producer. What you talking about? I can destroy you." He might jokingly do that, but at the end of the day, it's genuine. And he says this to EJ. He just doesn't have context about his feelings where EJ's concerned and that's the big ticker, right? It's that "I've been away, I've been gone. I really just want to know that my sister is loved and protected. If there's a little romance there... she's getting older and I'm not around all the time. I can't play dad. I can't protect, and frankly, I don't want to." He wants her to be happy. He would be thrilled if he knew.
I was thinking, "If only he knew..."
I've been in EJ's position before. That has happened to me before where I've had feelings and I meet a dad or brother or a best friend and they're like, "Oh my god. You're like her brother. That's awesome." And I'm like, "Yeah, ugh. I don't want to be."
You're a seasoned pro when it comes to singing, dancing and theater, and the show is a love letter to musical theater. What does the show get right about the musical theater experience?
The fact that it's made by a thespian and it's built for [musical theater] kids and everyone else, but it's really built for [musical theater] kids to feel seen and to feel felt and to feel heard. And it's done by a bunch of theater kids. That's what they got right. All the live shows, Grease Live and The Wiz... the thing that Tommy Kail and Marc Platt got right with Grease Live was building a musical with musical theater people. And any of the names they brought in had extensive experience on stage, even if they weren't on Broadway. That's what set that apart. If you're making a Latinx film, you're going to have Latinx actors in it. If I'm making a musical theater show, I'm hitting up my Broadway friends. I'm hitting up my friends that grew up on stage, and Tim is a genius and he made that happen. He gave the theater kids the opportunity to be seen and he's doing it in such a beautiful way.
You're gearing up for your return to Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway at the end of this year and you wrapped another movie, Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between. Can you tell us what other projects we can be looking forward to?
Where I'm concerned, there's a lot of stuff. I stream almost daily on Twitch at twitch.tv/JordanFisher. I'm very, very interactive with my community on there. I have a whole Discord channel and you can find it on my Twitch page. I'm constantly engaged with my community, talking to my community all day, every day on Discord and on stream and on Twitter. So they know a lot about different things that I've been subtly mentioning here and there. I'm working on new music. I'm really excited about this next season of my life, releasing new music and new merch. I'm on The Flash. There was a release for it, so I can talk about Field Notes on Love. Jennifer Smith, who wrote Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between, that I produced and starred in with Talia Ryder with Ace Entertainment. She had another book that we got locked over at Warner Bros. and we're thrilled and excited to make that film. It's me and [Liv & Maddie co-star] Dove Cameron again. I get to executive produce that film as well. Lauren Graham is adapting it for film. I'm super, super thrilled for that. It's super sophisticated and gorgeous and a really cool way to see Liv and Holden play very different characters, but grown and actual adults and dealing with real-life stuff. I'm really amped to get that one up and running. And then there's like eight other things that I legally am not allowed to talk to you about today, but we will when I can.