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Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known’s Director On Lea Michele And Jonathan Groff’s Infamous Vagina Interview

Lea Michele in Those You've Known
(Image credit: HBO)

Every few years a Broadway show opens and becomes a full-blown sensation. Years before Hamilton did that, Duncan Sheik’s Spring Awakening opened and became an anthem for young people everywhere. A new documentary about the musical called Those You’ve Known has recently been released, including one very intimate story shared by Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff (whose careers were launched by the show). And the film’s director spoke to CinemaBlend about that infamous vagina interview.

Prior to Those You’ve Known’s release, a story from the film started circulating around the internet. Namely the time that Lea Michele showed Jonathan Groff her genitals so he could properly understand the female anatomy. I recently had the privilege of speaking with director Michael John Warren about the Spring Awakening doc, where he explained how that viral interview moment happened with the two stars. As he told me,

Someone was asking me ‘How did it happen?’ And I’m hoping that at this stage of my career I'm pretty good at interviewing people. And I hope they felt comfortable and that I was going to respect their own stories. And I didn’t know what was coming, Lea just said that and I was like ‘okay.’ And I had Groff later, I only got to interview people for like an hour. And I had Groff coming in after that, and I was like ‘I have to get his side of the story.’ And you can see it, it’s in the film. Groff’s blown away that she had said this. He’s like ‘I can’t believe she told you this story.’ And he goes on to confirm it.

He’s got a point. In Those You’ve Known, Jonathan Groff seems truly gobsmacked that Lea Michele shared such an intimate story about their friendship. It all makes for a truly hilarious sequence in the film, and shows how some aspects of Spring Awakening carried through to their relationship off stage. Indeed, Michael John Warren cited the “love story” shared between Groff and Michele as one of the movie’s biggest plot points during our chat.

Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff became lifelong friends after originating the roles of Wendla and Melchior in Spring Awakening’s original Broadway cast. The two have regularly shared intimate stories about how this friendship bloomed, and the ways it manifested into their adulthood. So in some ways Michael John Warren had to simply turn on the camera and let the pair speak about each other in order to find captivating footage.

Later in my same interview with Warren, he gave credit to Lea Michele for being such an open book during Those You’ve Known. He maintains that the (somewhat controversial) Glee star makes for a particularly great interview, thanks to how naturally open she is. As he told me,

I think Lea is just a really open person. She was doing nudity on stage at a really young age. She’s the kind of person, she’s kind of an easy interview frankly. You ask her a good question and she’s going to give you a great answer. The same is said for Groff and frankly a lot of people that I interviewed throughout this film. I’m used to having to drag people’s good answers out of them.

These interviews are a large part of what makes Those You’ve Known such a great watch. The film tells the story of Spring Awakening’s original road to Broadway, as well as the rehearsal process that came before their 2021 reunion concert. And through it all Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff share their treasured memories from back in the day. 

Those You’ve Known is available to stream now on HBO Max. Be sure to check out the 2022 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. 

Corey Chichizola
Corey Chichizola

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.