Mike Faist

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Mike Faist
Michael David Faist

(1992-01-05) January 5, 1992 (age 31)
Alma materAmerican Musical and Dramatic Academy
  • Actor
  • singer
  • dancer
Years active2011–present

Michael David Faist (/fst/;[1] born January 5, 1992)[2] is an American actor. An alumnus of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, Faist is the recipient of a Grammy and an Emmy, with nominations for a Tony and a British Academy Film Award.

Faist began his acting career in 2011 originating the role of Morris Delancey in Disney's Newsies, appearing in its Broadway production (2012–2013). He continued to appear in several independent films, television series and starring in Off-Broadway productions before his breakthrough originating the role of Connor Murphy in the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen (2015–2018), for which he was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical and won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album and the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Musical Performance in a Daytime Program.

In 2021, Faist starred in the series Panic and had his first major film part as Riff, the leader of the Jets, in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story, for which he received critical acclaim and a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

Early life and education[edit]

Michael David Faist was born on January 5, 1992, in Gahanna, Ohio,[3][4] and was adopted by his parents, Julia and Kurt Faist.[5][6] The family owns a real estate business.[6][7] As a child, Faist realized he wanted to pursue a career in the performing arts. He was enticed by dancing after seeing Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire in old MGM films, especially Kelly in Singin' in the Rain. "Just the way he performed and moved, he was able to tell a story through movement," Faist said. At the age of 5, he pressured his parents to enroll him in dance classes and began auditioning for community theater and children's theater.[6][3] In a Columbus Children's Theatre production of The Wizard of Oz, he played one of the Lollipop Guild, later joining the cast of Oliver! and Alice in Wonderland.[3] Faist fell in love with acting while attending The Academy of Performing Arts (TAPA) company in Columbus, Ohio and while at Gahanna Lincoln High School he acted in several productions, such as Danny Zuko in Grease and Simon in Jesus Christ Superstar.[3] At the age of 17, Faist met his birth mother and her family, who are mostly pilots by profession. The eldest of his two half-brothers taught him how to fly. Faist has since then obtained his pilot's license.[6]

In 2009, he graduated high school and moved to New York to pursue a stage career.[3][8] He enrolled the American Musical and Dramatic Academy but dropped out after two semesters.[9] While auditioning for Off-Broadway plays, he began selling tickets in Times Square.[8] On his first job as a professional actor in the play White Christmas, he was collecting food stamps, earning $150 per week, and living in the back of a McDonald's parking lot.[6]



Faist began his acting career in 2011, originating the role of Morris Delancey, a bully and publisher Joseph Pulitzer's henchman, in the regional premiere of Newsies at the Paper Mill Playhouse. When the musical transferred to Broadway, he understudied the lead role of Jack Kelly, a newsboy who leads his colleagues in a strike against the publisher, in addition to his other roles. Faist had to alternately play the roles in quick succession during the opening number. "You have to really make sure you're warmed up vocally and physically and you're mentally prepared," Faist said of the demands of his dual role, but added, "It's not hard to have fun in Newsies, about the uprising of children, a new generation coming in to take over the old."[3] Newsies opened to critical acclaim and was nominated for Best Musical at the 66th Tony Awards.[10][11][12] In 2012, he made his feature film debut in the coming-of-age drama The Unspeakable Act. The independent film received positive reviews.[13]

Faist went on to star as Rhys Thurston in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins's play Appropriate Off-Broadway in 2014, which drew critical acclaim from chief theater critic Ben Brantley of The New York Times.[14] In 2015, he appeared as Skip in the short film Yellow, a psychiatric ward patient in Touched with Fire, and Gordie Joiner in The Grief of Others which received critical and generally positive reviews.[15] He was also cast in an unaired pilot of the series Eye Candy as Olsen and co-starred as tutor Aleksei Belyaev opposite Peter Dinklage in an Off-Broadway production of A Month in the Country.[16]


In August 2015, he originated the role of Connor Murphy in the hit musical Dear Evan Hansen, playing the role of the drug addict from the workshop till its Broadway transfer in 2016. The musical received critical acclaim and earned Faist a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical.[17] Along with his cast members, he also won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album and the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Musical Performance in a Daytime Program for their performance of You Will Be Found on The Today Show.[18][19] Of his process for developing his character, a suicidal high school student, Faist said that he "read stories by real survivors on a website, livethroughthis.org. I realized that there seems to be a general lack of self-love and empathy in our society. I hope that when people see the show, they'll say, 'Oh, I am loved. I'm exactly who I am, and I am enough'."[8][20] Along with cast members Ben Levi Ross and Mallory Bechtel, Faist lent his voice for the audiobook version of Val Emmich's Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel, a book adaptation of the musical released in October 2018.[21]

The two following years, Faist continued to feature in small independent films the likes of Our Time, I Can I Will I Did and Active Adults.[5][22] He also appeared in crime procedural dramas Law & Order Special Victims Unit in a 2017 episode as Glenn Lawrence. In October 2017, he taught Improv and acting exercises in a Broadway Musical Theatre Workshop and also held a Master Class for audition technique and song interpretation.[23] He taught the same class in Montreal that November.[4]

In 2018, he appeared in an episode of Deception and starred in the Second Stage Theater production of Days of Rage as Spence, a conflicted and passionate young man torn between causes and women.[24] He also appeared in the horror-fantasy film Wildling opposite Bel Powley. It premiered at South by Southwest to mixed reviews.[25] In 2020, he played a starring role as Arthur in the small independent drama The Atlantic City Story.[26]


In 2021, Faist co-starred as Dodge Mason in the Amazon's teen drama thriller Panic.[27] The New York Times spoke of Faist, describing him as tall and lanky, making quite a striking figure in the series, "With a slender charisma and a bone structure that seems to have been sculpted with a scythe, the actor could easily have embarked on Panic. But his sensitivity is closer to that of leading men as atypical as Adam Driver, and he modernizes a potentially versatile piece."[28] Despite receiving positive reviews from critics, the series was canceled after one season.[29][30] Faist received a nomination for his work by the Critics Choice Association in the category Best Actor in an Action Series at the 2nd Critics' Choice Super Awards.[31]

Later that year, he had his first major movie role in Steven Spielberg's film adaptation of West Side Story as Riff, Tony's best friend and leader of the Jets gang.[32] The film was a critical success and some critics deemed it superior to the 1961 film.[33] His performance earned universal praise from critics.[34] The Washington Post regards his magnetic performance as West Side Story's "stand-out" as its chief film critic Ann Hornaday wrote "The revelation in this production, however, is Mike Faist, who is not only a gifted singer and dancer, but plays Jets gang leader Riff with just the right mix of spiky resentment, hair-trigger anger and loose-limbed grace.".[35] Critic Pete Hammond of Deadline agreed, writing "But the real revelation of this cast is Faist, a Tony nominee for Dear Evan Hansen who just pops and explodes as Riff. With this performance we are watching the birth of a true star, the kind of actor you can't look away from. In fact, I felt a definite sense of loss once he is out of the picture. He's riveting."[36] On his collaboration with Faist, screenwriter Tony Kushner says, "He really wants to think about economics, politics, psychology, and psychotechnology, and he feeds himself with a kind of acuity and precision that I think is the mark of a great actor."[37] To craft a new version of the iconic Jets leader, Faist took inspiration from a 1959 Bruce Davidson photography book entitled Brooklyn Gang. "You look at those photos and you see these people, the nihilism that exists, their inability to see past tomorrow, or even today for that matter. There's something depressing about it, also carnal, wild, and primal," Faist explained.[38] For his performance, Faist received a nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role at the 75th British Academy Film Awards.[39]

Upcoming projects[edit]

Faist has three upcomings projects. In February 2022, it was announced that he would join Zendaya and Josh O'Connor to star in Luca Guadagnino's Challengers as Art, a famed tennis player facing his rival.[40] Faist will also portray photographer Danny Lyon in Jeff Nichols' The Bikeriders opposite Austin Butler, Jodie Comer and Tom Hardy.[41] Faist will make his West End debut in the stage adaptation of Brokeback Mountain as Jack Twist in May 2023.[42]

Work as a writer[edit]

Faist writes short stories and has stated that it is important for an actor to write in order to understand scripts. He helped to establish a playwright's festival, the Ohio Artists Gathering, which he described as "a one-week theater festival bringing artists from New York and LA and integrating them with local actors, writers, and directors". The first festival was held in Columbus, Ohio in 2018.[6][43][44]

Acting credits[edit]


Year Title Role Notes
2012 The Unspeakable Act Tony
2015 Yellow Skip Short film
Touched with Fire Additional Psych Ward Patient
The Grief of Others Gordie Joiner
2016 Our Time Benny
2017 I Can I Will I Did Ben
Active Adults Teenage Boy
2018 Wildling Lawrence
2020 The Atlantic City Story Arthur
2021 West Side Story Riff
2022 Pinball: The Man Who Saved the Game Roger
2023 Challengers Art Donaldson Post-production
2024 The Bikeriders Danny Lyon Filming


Year Title Role Notes
2012 Dancing with the Stars Himself Guest Performance/Ensemble
2015 Eye Candy Olsen Episode: "Unaired Original Pilot"
2017 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Glenn Lawrence Episode: "Complicated"
2018 Deception[45] Ben "Mekka" Evans Episode: "Masking"
2021 Panic Dodge Mason Main role


Year(s) Title Role Location Notes
2011 Newsies Morris Delancey (Jack Kelly understudy) Paper Mill Playhouse Regional
2012–2013 Nederlander Theatre Broadway
2014 Appropriate Rhys Thurston Pershing Square Signature Center Off-Broadway
2015 A Month in the Country Aleksei Belyaev Classic Stage Company Off-Broadway
Dear Evan Hansen Connor Murphy Arena Stage Washington, D.C.
2016 Second Stage Theater Off-Broadway
2016–2018 Music Box Theatre Broadway
2018 Days of Rage Spence Second Stage Theater Off-Broadway
2023 Brokeback Mountain Jack Twist @sohoplace West End


Year Song Show/film title Album title Notes
2017 "Sincerely Me" Dear Evan Hansen Dear Evan Hansen
(Original Broadway Cast Recording)
with Ben Platt and Will Roland
"Disappear" with Ben Platt, Kristolyn Lloyd, Will Roland, and Jennifer Laura Thompson
2021 "Jet Song" West Side Story West Side Story (Soundtrack)
"Tonight Quintet" with David Alvarez, Ariana DeBose, Ansel Elgort, and Rachel Zegler
"Cool" with Ansel Elgort

Cast album[edit]

Title Details Peak chart positions
US[46] US
AUS[47] CAN[48]
Dear Evan Hansen
(Original Broadway Cast Recording)
  • Release date: February 3, 2017
  • Label: Atlantic
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download, streaming
8 1 34 58

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Work Result Ref
2017 Tony Awards Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical Dear Evan Hansen Nominated [49]
Broadway.com Audience Awards Favorite Featured Actor in a Musical Nominated [50]
Favorite Breakthrough Performance (Male) Won [51]
2018 Grammy Awards Best Musical Theater Album Won [18]
Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Musical Performance in a Daytime Program "You Will Be Found" from Dear Evan Hansen on The Today Show Won [19]
2021 Chicago Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actor West Side Story Nominated [52]
Portland Critics Association Awards Best Male Supporting Role Nominated [53]
Indiana Film Journalists Association Best Supporting Actor Nominated [54]
New Mexico Film Critics Best Supporting Actor Nominated [55]
Phoenix Critics Circle Best Supporting Actor Won [56][57]
Greater Western New York Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actor Nominated [58]
Breakthrough Performance Nominated
2022 British Academy Film Awards Best Actor in a Supporting Role Nominated [59]
Chicago Indie Critics Best Supporting Actor Nominated [60]
CinEuphoria Awards Best Supporting Actor - International Competition Nominated [55]
Gold Derby Film Awards Best Supporting Actor Nominated [61]
Ensemble Cast Nominated
International Online Cinema Awards (INOCA) Best Supporting Actor Nominated [55]
Best Ensemble Cast Nominated
Latino Entertainment Journalists Association Film Awards Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role Nominated [55]
National Society of Film Critics Best Supporting Actor 3rd place [62]
Dorian Awards Best Supporting Film Performance Nominated [63]
North Dakota Film Society Best Supporting Actor Nominated [64]
Online Film Critics Society Best Supporting Actor Nominated [65]
Online Film & Television Association Best Supporting Actor Nominated [66]
Best Breakthrough Performance: Male Won
Critics' Choice Super Awards Best Actor in an Action Series Panic Nominated [31]


  1. ^ One of examples in which he pronounces his own name. "Disney On Broadway YouTube channel - Meet the Newsies: Morris Delancey (Mike Faist) Apr 6, 2012". www.youtube.com. Retrieved February 19, 2022.
  2. ^ "Mike Faist – Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB". www.ibdb.com. Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Newsies the Musical: Gahanna native Mike Faist having fun in his Broadway debut in the Disney hit". The Columbus Dispatch. August 27, 2012. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Fitzgibbon, Camila (November 17, 2017). "Montreal master class with Tony Award nominee Mike Faist set for November 27th". Montreal Theatre Hub. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Mikesell, Terry. "Gahanna native Faist identified emotionally with lead character's dilemma". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Powers, Annie (March 31, 2017). "Discovery: Mike Faist". Interview. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
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  11. ^ Rooney, David (September 27, 2011). "Newsboy Strike? Sing All About It". The New York Times.
  12. ^ Geiger, Thom (September 27, 2011). "Newsies: The Musical". Entertainment Weekly.
  13. ^ The Unspeakable Act at Metacritic.
  14. ^ Brantley, Ben (March 16, 2014). "A Squabbling Family Kept in the Dark". The New York Times. Retrieved April 28, 2022.
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  20. ^ Grant, Stacey. "Dear Evan Hansen Star Opens Up About Skipping Social Media — And The Autograph Line". MTV News. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  21. ^ "Mike Faist, Ben Levi Ross & Mallory Bechtel to Voice Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel Audiobook". Broadway.com. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  22. ^ "Movie Review: I Can, I Will, I Did". Tae Kwon Do Life Magazine. September 13, 2018. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  23. ^ "Musical Theatre Workshop with Mike Faist (Ages 14-19) -SOLD OUT – Broadway Workshop". Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  24. ^ Evans, Suzy (October 25, 2018). "Steven Levenson and Mike Faist on Teaming Up Again for 'Days of Rage'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  25. ^ "Wildling Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  26. ^ Verma, Shikhar (January 20, 2021). "The Atlantic City Story [2020]: 'IFFI' Review - A muted character-drama about understanding the aimlessness of existence". High On Films. Retrieved September 20, 2021.
  27. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (August 28, 2018). "'Panic': Olivia Welch, Mike Faist & Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut To Star In Amazon YA Pilot". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  28. ^ Vincentelli, Elisabeth (May 27, 2021). "Mike Faist Isn't Sure About This Whole Acting Thing". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  29. ^ "Panic: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  30. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (August 6, 2021). "'Panic' YA Drama Canceled By Amazon After One Season". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on August 6, 2021. Retrieved August 6, 2021.
  31. ^ a b "Nominations Announced for the 2nd Annual Critics Choice Super Awards". Critics Choice Association. Retrieved February 22, 2022.
  32. ^ "Mike Faist to Bring 'Cool' Factor to Steven Spielberg's West Side Story Film as Riff". Broadway.com. Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  33. ^ Murphy, J. Kim (November 30, 2021). "'West Side Story' First Reactions Praise the Classic Musical's Reimagining as 'Spectacular' and 'Top-Tier Spielberg'". Variety. Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  34. ^ Eng, Joyce (January 27, 2022). "Oscar spotlight: Why 'West Side Story's' Mike Faist deserves to go all the way". Gold Derby. Retrieved January 31, 2022.
  35. ^ Hornaday, Ann (December 7, 2021). "'West Side Story' is an urgent, utterly beautiful revival". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 3, 2022.
  36. ^ Hammond, Pete (December 2, 2021). "'West Side Story' Review: Steven Spielberg's First Musical Is A Challenge Met, With Reverence & Innovation For Oscar-Winning Classic". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 28, 2022.
  37. ^ Floyd, Thomas (December 10, 2021). "Mike Faist was a 'blue-collar working theater actor.' Now, he's 'West Side Story's' standout". Washington Post. Retrieved December 12, 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  38. ^ Erbland, Kate (December 14, 2021). "How 'West Side Story' Breakout Mike Faist Made an Iconic Role His Own, 'Expectations Be Damned'". IndieWire. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  39. ^ Ravindran, Manori (February 3, 2022). "BAFTA Awards Nominations Unveiled: 'Dune,' 'Power of the Dog' Lead Field, Will Smith Earns First BAFTA Nod". Variety. Retrieved February 3, 2022.
  40. ^ Kit, Borys (February 11, 2022). "Zendaya, Josh O'Connor, Mike Faist Starring in Luca Guadagnino's Romantic Drama 'Challengers'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 11, 2022.
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  42. ^ Bamigboye, Baz (March 20, 2023). "'Brokeback Mountain' Adapted For West End Stage; Mike Faist And Lucas Hedges To Star". Retrieved March 20, 2023.
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  44. ^ Ades, Richard. "Mike Faist Brings Broadway to Columbus". Columbus Monthly. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
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  47. ^ "Australian Charts: Discography Musical". australian-charts.com. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  48. ^ "Original Broadway Cast Recording: Canadian Albums". Billboard. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
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  66. ^ "FILM: 26th Annual Film Awards (2021)". Online Film & Television Association. Retrieved March 6, 2022.

External links[edit]