December 21, 2012 at 05:00 AM EST

He makes the Broadway-to-Hollywood leap look easy. In 2012 the Book of Mormon star played Hannah’s gay ex-boyfriend on HBO’s Girls (he’ll return for season 2) and then found success as half of an expecting gay couple on NBC’s The New Normal. His secret? “You just don’t have to try so hard on TV,” says Rannells, 34. “You get to relax into it a little bit. Rather than trying to fill a 1,500-seat house, your audience is right next to you.” Plus, there’s a lot more than 1,500 of us watching him now. —with reporting by Tanner Stransky

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