Jake Epstein

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Jake Epstein
Born (1987-01-16) January 16, 1987 (age 31)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Occupation Actor, singer
Years active 1999–present

Jake Epstein (born January 16, 1987) is a Canadian actor and singer who played Craig Manning, a bipolar musician, on Degrassi: The Next Generation. He also played Will in the First National Tour of American Idiot and created the role of Gerry Goffin in the Broadway production of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

Personal life[edit]

Epstein was born in Toronto, Ontario. His mother, Kathy Kacer, is a Norma Fleck Award-winning writer of children's stories about the Holocaust, and his father, Ian Epstein (born 1955),[1] is a lawyer.[2][3][4] He has an older sister, Gabi, an actress and jazz singer. Epstein is Jewish and was raised in Conservative Judaism.[5][6] He attended Claude Watson School for the Arts in Toronto and then continued in the Claude Watson program in Earl Haig Secondary School. He attended Camp Gesher in Cloyne, Ontario for a few years.


Epstein was the lead actor in several of his school's plays and musicals, the most notable one being the Emcee in Cabaret. He started acting on screen in 1999, appearing in several made-for-television films and television series, including The Zack Files, Quints, Mom's Got A Date With A Vampire and an episode of Real Kids, Real Adventures.

He became well known after being cast in a lead role as Craig Manning on Degrassi: The Next Generation, joining the cast in 2002, in the second season of the show and continued to star in the show as a regular through seasons 2–5.[citation needed] Epstein indicated that the character "felt like a darker extension" of himself.[7] He left Degrassi during the fifth season to attend the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal and made theater his new focus. Epstein said, "One of the things I love about theatre is how raw it is. There's no faking it… I really wanted to have a base in theatre, and that kind of opened up all these doors for me." He returned to Degrassi for minor guest appearances in season 6-8.[8]

Epstein made his professional theatrical debut in a Soulpepper Theatre Company production of Our Town. Jake has also appeared in Radio Free Roscoe.

He has been a member of several bands, such as Mind the Gap, and Funkasaurus Rex, playing many musical instruments, including the guitar and drums. Epstein also starred in The Dream, alongside a bunch of friends for the Toronto Fringe Festival in 2007. Epstein also had a small role in the 2008 movie Charlie Bartlett, with a guest appearance from former Degrassi cast member, Drake.

Epstein starred in a Ross Petty production of Cinderella, at Elgin Theatre (Toronto), from November 28, 2008 until January 4, 2009, the production also starred fellow Degrassi: The Next Generation actress Paula Brancati.

Epstein replaced Kyle Riabko as Melchior Gabor in the First National Tour of Spring Awakening, officially beginning his run on July 7, 2009.[9]

In late 2009, he and fellow Degrassi star Jake Goldsbie guest-starred in an episode of the Canadian series Being Erica.

Also in 2009, Jake starred as Charlie Brown, or "CB", in Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead—alongside fellow Degrassi grads, Paula Brancati as "Van's Sister" (Lucy Van Pelt), Adamo Ruggiero as "Van" (Linus Van Pelt) and Mike Lobel as "Matt" (Pig-Pen).[10][11]

From November 25, 2010 through January 2, 2011, Epstein starred in Ross Petty's Beauty & The Beast: The Savagely Silly Family Musical at the Elgin Theatre (Toronto).[citation needed]

From January 20, 2011 to January 29, 2011, Epstein costarred with his sister, Gabi Epstein in Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond's "Dani Girl" at the Talk is Free Theatre in Barrie, Ontario.

In July 2011, Epstein played Billy's older brother in the Toronto run of Billy Elliot The Musical at the Canon Theatre.

He played Will in Green Day's Tony-winning rock musical American Idiot during the 2011-2012 North American tour.[12] Epstein said, "I always think of American Idiot as my generation's The Who's Tommy or Pink Floyd's The Wall. American Idiot was very much like that time in the world, right after Sept. 11th...It was like a time of not knowing what to feel and that's what spawned this show."[13]

Epstein made his Broadway debut in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark as the alternate for lead role Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He joined the company on December 4, 2012, and performed Saturday and Sunday matinees, with his first show having taken place on December 8 at the Foxwoods Theatre.[14] Epstein referred to the role as a "childhood fantasy come true."[15] He played his final performance on August 12, 2013 to begin rehearsing for a new musical titled Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,[16] which opened on Broadway on January 12, 2014. This marked his second Broadway show in less than a year. The musical was based on Carole King's life, and Epstein portrayed her former husband Gerry Goffin.[17] He indicated that it was not easy playing the man who broke King's heart. Epstein said, "I'm trying to make his struggle clear, so people understand why he did the things he did. He's not just a villain. I hope people see it's more complicated than that."[15] He remained with the cast until September 21, 2014.[18]

Many of the characters Epstein portrayed were troubled types. He said, "I'm a pretty upbeat person. I think I sometimes get cast as these brooding types because I bring light and joy, which hopefully makes them more likable."[15]




Year Film Role Notes
2000 Quints Brad TV movie
Mom's Got a Date with a Vampire Duffy TV movie
2004 Crown Heights
2008 Charlie Bartlett Dustin Lauderbach
2009 Degrassi Goes Hollywood Craig Manning TV movie
2010 Love Letter from an Open Grave Zombie Frank Short
2012 Blood Pressure Josh Trestman
2013 Jesse Jesse Turner Short
2015 4th Man Out Marc the artist
Borealis Fergus
Full Out Coach Pierce
Charming Christmas Woody TV movie
As I Like Her Jimmy Short


Year Title Role Notes
1999 Ricky's Room Brad unknown episodes
Real Kids, Real Adventures Chris Gilmore Episode: "Lost & Found: The Richard Prieur Story"
2000–02 The Zack Files Cam Dunleavy Main role, 52 episodes
2002–09 Degrassi: The Next Generation Craig Manning 2002–06, Seasons 2–5 (series regular)
2006–09, Seasons 6–8 (guest appearances)
2003 The Eleventh Hour Jacob McGibbon Episode: "Shelter"
Girls v. Boys Contestant Hawaii
2005 Radio Free Roscoe Jackson Torrance Episode: "Musical Influences"
2006 Angela's Eyes Brad Episode: "Undercover Eyes"
2008 Paradise Falls Jim Episodes: "Revelations", "Stardust"
2009 Being Erica Malcolm Abrams Episode: "Battle Royale"
2011 My Babysitter's a Vampire David Stachowski Episode: "Blue Moon"
2012 Murdoch Mysteries Eddie Driscol Season 5 Episode 12: "Murdoch Night in Canada"
2015 Remedy Jake Ruben Episodes: "Fight or Flight", "Day One"
2016-2017 Degrassi: Next Class Craig Manning Episodes: "#ThrowBackThursday" & "FactsOnly"
2016-present Designated Survivor Chuck Russink Recurring (Season 1) Main Cast (Season 2)
2017 Suits Brian Altman Season 7: 4 episodes


Year Title Role Notes
2009 Spring Awakening Melchior Gabor Tour
Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead CB
2011 Billy Elliot the Musical Billy's older brother
American Idiot Will Tour
2012–13 Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark alternate for lead role Peter Parker / Spider-Man
2014 Beautiful: The Carole King Musical Gerry Goffin


  1. ^ "Ian S. Epstein Lawyer Profile on Martindale.com". 
  2. ^ Post City Magazines | August 2007, Jake Epstein by Robin Heron Archived 2007-08-29 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ "Our Canadian Girl". Kathy Kacer. Retrieved June 26, 2006. 
  4. ^ "Kathy Kacer". Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers (CANSCAIP.org). Retrieved July 30, 2015. With short autobiography.
  5. ^ Miller, Gerri (July–August 2007). "Jake Epstein". JVibe. 3 (4): 12–15. 
  6. ^ Document2 Archived 2009-08-24 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "You're A Big Deal: Jake Epstein of Broadway's "Spiderman, Turn Off The Dark"". WBD Entertainment and Lifestyle Magazine. Retrieved January 24, 2016. 
  8. ^ Gioia, Michael (February 24, 2014). "The Leading Men: Jake Epstein and Jarrod Spector, Beautiful's Gerry Goffin and Barry Mann". playbill.com. Archived from the original on January 30, 2016. Retrieved January 23, 2016. 
  9. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "'Degrassi' Star Epstein to Succeed Riabko in Spring Awakening National Tour". playbill.com. Archived from the original on June 11, 2009. Retrieved June 2, 2009. 
  10. ^ "When your Dog Sees God".  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  11. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Royal's Dog Sees God, starring Jake Epstein, Gets Canadian Premiere March 13". Playbill. Archived from the original on 2013-01-31. 
  12. ^ Jones, Kenneth (December 21, 2011). "American Idiot Tour, With Van Hughes, Joshua Kobak, Jake Epstein and More, Tests Wings in Upstate NY". playbill.com. Retrieved June 2, 2016. 
  13. ^ Ahearn, Victoria (January 1, 2012). "Toronto actor Jake Epstein of 'Degrassi' fame rocks hometown in 'American Idiot'". The Canadian Press. 
  14. ^ Gioia, Michael. ""Degrassi" Star Jake Epstein Will Make Broadway Debut in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark". Archived from the original on 2012-12-09. 
  15. ^ a b c Stevens, Beth (December 12, 2013). "Jake Epstein on Disappointing Degrassi Fans and Breaking Carole King's Heart in Beautiful". Broadway.com. Retrieved January 23, 2016. 
  16. ^ "Jake Epstein, Anika Larsen and Jarrod Spector Join 'Beautiful The Carole King Musical' Complete Cast Announced" Archived 2013-08-14 at the Wayback Machine. playbill.com
  17. ^ Hetrick, Adam."Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Starring Jessie Mueller as Music Icon, Opens on Broadway" Archived 2014-01-13 at the Wayback Machine., playbill.com, January 12, 2014.
  18. ^ Broadway.com Staff. "Scott J. Campbell & Paul Anthony Stewart Join Cast of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical on Broadway". Broadway.com. Broadway.com. Retrieved September 23, 2014. 

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