You might not think you know Greg Berlanti, but if you’ve watched almost any show on The WB or The CW in the past 10 years, you certainly know his work. From Everwood to the DCTV empire which is Arrow, the flash, super girland Legends of tomorrow, Berlanti has created some of the most impactful shows on the networks. But there’s one thing even his biggest fans might not know: Besides being a TV god and Love, Simon director, Greg Berlanti was a puppeteer in high school. Yeah, really — before bringing comic books to life every week and a gay high school romance on the big screen this month, Berlanti was just an ordinary teenager. With puppets.
During a stopover at the Bustle offices in New York, Berlanti shocks his young Love, Simon features Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford and Alexandra Shipp revealing his past as a puppeteer. “I was a puppeteer in high school,” he says. “So, you know, I’ve never really had a good day socially.” Not only was Berlanti a budding puppeteer, he also made his own puppets and idolized Muppets creator Jim Henson. “I was settling on puppets and going from being a local puppeteer to doing more theater and doing things like that, but I wanted to be Jim Henson when I was a kid, so I was building puppets in my garage,” says he.
For a young Berlanti, puppetry not only opened the door to theater and other forms of storytelling, but gave it an important outlet. “Because I was locked up, I wasn’t really concerned with having a social life. It was just more about art and storytelling and all that,” he explains. Yet unlike many high school puppeteers, Berlanti’s teenage hobby paid off. Today, the writer, director and producer is a true Hollywood success with a television empire that only grows. In addition to his duties as a show creator and executive producer on The CW’s DCTV lineup, Berlanti also acts as an executive producer on hit television shows. Riverdale and Blind spot.
Despite his success, however, Berlanti says he was never able to move on from his past as a puppeteer. “I always go to events in my hometown and they always say, ‘Puppet!’ And I’ll be like, I’ve done other things now! I’m not just a puppet anymore,” he told his I love Simon casting fun. “But that’s the kind of thing that sticks.”
His puppet past comes in handy these days, though; Berlanti reveals that he brings out vocals when playing with his two-year-old son (cue the “aw”s). And even as a teenager, Berlanti still managed to do well. “I kind of managed to escape the clutches of being a class jerk,” he says. Instead, when it came time to receive high school superlatives, he earned a much classier honor. “I was the best dressed, but you should also know my mom dressed me most of the time in high school — no kidding,” he says. “In the morning, I would show up, and the outfits would come out, I would put them on, and I was the best dressed in the class.”
If that wasn’t enough, Berlanti was also awarded the title of “class comedian.” Given his current status as the director of one of 2018’s most anticipated movies and red carpet regular, it seems Berlanti is one of the few people whose superlatives and high school hobbies matter. for something.