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Not only has Kazee earned a Tony for his work on Broadway, but a Grammy as well. The 43-year-old won the Tony in 2012 for Best Performance by a Leading Actor for Once; the Grammy came from the soundtrack for Best Musical Theater Album. In Once, which he starred in both on and off Broadway, he played an Irish guitarist who falls in love with a Czech piano player.
During his Tonys acceptance speech, he tearfully mentioned how his co-star, Cristin Miloti, helped him cope with the death of his mother.
“My mother always told me before shows to stand up there and show ‘em whose little boy you are,” he said. “And I’m showing you today that I am the son of Kathy Withrow Kazee who lost the fight with cancer on Easter Sunday this year. And I miss you every day, and I feel you here with me today, and I love you all so much, and thank you for this award.”
If Kazee looks familiar to you, it may be because you've seen him appear in 16 episodes of Shameless as Gus Pfender, who Fiona Gallagher was married to during seasons 5 and 6. Kazee told TheWrap in 2016 that he wasn't thrilled with how his character was treated.
"I feel like he got a really raw deal," Kazee said. "No one was around to say, 'Hey, you probably shouldn't go down this road. Here's [Fiona's] track record."
Kazee also appeared in two episodes of Nashville as Riff Bell, a country music megastar who decided during the peak of his fame and fortune that he was going to walk away from it all. Fans will remember him from season 4 when Will Chase's character Luke Wheeler visited Riff, his old mentor, at his family home, helping Riff square away a few issues in his old life.
Kazee also appeared in two episodes of NBC's Blindspot during season 3 this year. He also played the role of Edward Lewis during Pretty Woman: The Musical's run in Chicago earlier this year. He has also graced the stage in Broadway's Monty Python's Spamalot and To Be or Not to Be.
Kazee has humble roots stemming back to his hometown of Ashland, Kentucky, where he was born the only child of a welder and a health care aide.
After graduating high school in 1994, he attended Morehead State University, according to his Facebook page. From there, he attended and graduated from New York University's Tisch acting program in 2005.
We know Kazee is musical thanks to his involvement on the stage, but the actor is also a musician. He was featured on Christina Perri's track "A Thousand Years, Pt. 2" for the second installment of the Twilight saga's Breaking Dawn.
As a songwriter, he said he's not quite as self-pitying as his Shameless character, who memorably sang a "revenge song" to Fiona. "I went through a breakup around four, five years ago and […] being a songwriter and a musician, it’s sort of a natural inclination to put those thoughts down on a page," he told LA Confidential. "Ultimately, I found that I’m not really the Taylor Swift type."
It's possible the breakup Kazee tried writing about could be about Smash star and Broadway standout Megan Hilty, who he dated for six years. The pair broke up right as Once was moving to Broadway.
"Ms. Hilty initiated the breakup, but both saw it coming," reported The New York Times in 2012.
“The lessons I’ve learned about my time with Megan, six wonderful years, will live with me forever,” Kazee told Blouin Artinfo in July 2013. “I have zero angst or anxiety about her. She’s a warm, caring, immensely talented, lovely human being.”
Photo Credit: Jennifer Lourie / Contributor / Getty