August 31, 2012 at 04:00 AM EDT

Spring Awakening (2006-08) The stage hit launched the careers of Groff and Glee‘s Lea Michele, who starred as 19th-century teens grappling with sex. ”Even today, sometimes I go into an audition and the first thing they want to talk about is Spring Awakening,” says Groff.

One Life to Live (2007) The actor was still on Broadway when he shot an arc on the soap as a troubled teen who meets an appropriately melodramatic end. ”They killed me off in a car accident while I was doing pills,” he says with a laugh. ”Who could ask for anything more?”

Glee (2010-12) As Jesse St. James, Groff had a twist-filled romance with Michele’s Rachel Berry. ”We got so close on Spring Awakening, and [about] a year later we were on a TV show singing Lionel Richie,” says Groff, who doesn’t know if Jesse will return. ”It was surreal.”

The Conspirator (2011) ”Obviously when Robert Redford is behind the camera, you want to bring your A game, but he was actually really easygoing and made the set so relaxed,” says Groff, who played a duplicitous trial witness in Redford’s Civil War-era period piece.

Boss (2012) Groff is a mayoral aide willing to use sex — straight or gay — to get ahead. ”His sexuality is defined by power,” says the actor, who didn’t balk at the steamy material. ”Doing Spring Awakening eight times a week made me really comfortable with sex scenes.”

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