I was only a few minutes into my conversation with Taylor Trensch when I blurted: “I think it’s safe to say that your character, Mordred, is the most hated person in Camelot.” “Oh, I hope so,” Trensch replied. “In my career I’ve mostly played people who are sad and scared or sweet and dumb. So it’s a real pleasure to be a little butthead nightmare, fueled by hate.”

What is the source of Mordred’s rage? “It stems in part from King Arthur having abandoned him and his mother, Morgan,” Trensch said. Referring to the performer who plays that female parent, Trensch went on: “Marilee Talkington and I have spoken about how people have probably tried to burn our characters’ home down because she’s a single mother interested in science. They must have been scared all the time.”

But Trensch doesn’t think that Mordred’s attempt to foment revolt at Arthur’s court is Morgan’s fault. “His mother became so absorbed in science that he was probably ignored as a child. But the plan to usurp the crown is one that he devised himself.”

Trensch, who grew up in Tampa, Florida, and attended Elon University in North Carolina for two years, talked about Mordred in terms of Iago, a comparison suggested by Bartlett Sher, the director of Camelot. “Bart had me look at an aria that Iago sings in Verdi’s Otello,” Trensch said – he’s referring to “Credo in un Dio crudel.” “Iago makes a kind of direct address to the audience,” the actor explained, “which serves a similar function to ‘The Seven Deadly Virtues’ that I sing in Camelot.”

Mordred isn’t Trensch’s first visit to the shadowy side of life. “My first professional job,” he said, “was playing Moritz in the national tour of Spring Awakening. It was my favorite musical, so I was thrilled to get the work.” The tour afforded Trensch the chance to see the United States and be paid for it.

Trensch was on the road when Sher contacted him about playing Mordred. “I was in the out-of-town tryout of Shucked” -- a show that, like Camelot, is up for multiple Tonys on June 11th.. “I had to decide what musical to choose. It was a tough decision. But the first Broadway show I ever saw was The Light in the Piazza, in the Beaumont. Plus I love Bart and I love Aaron.” Aaron is of course Aaron Sorkin, who wrote the new book for Camelot and the script for the Broadway adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird, which Sher directed and in which Trensch played Dill.

When I asked Trensch about playing the 14-year-old Mordred while he himself is two decades older, he jokily mentioned a fellow Mockingbird cast member: “I’m trying to follow that Celia Keenan-Bolger trajectory of playing young as long as you can.” And when I ask Trensch if he would next like to play a much older character, he added, with equal good humor: “Yes. I am going to ask if I can understudy Dakin.” (In Camelot, Dakin Matthews plays Merlyn and Pellinore.)

But it’s hard to imagine Trensch shifting gears anytime soon: he’s having too much fun as Mordred. “It’s a great feeling to be the evil that drives the plot,” he said. “Although I have to be careful not to let the darkness get to me. In real life, I’m slow to anger, but Mordred is the opposite.”

Trensch and I ended our conversation on a happy note. “I’ve been fortunate. I have very supportive parents. I remember when I got the call offering me the job in Spring Awakening I was back home for the summer. I was in my childhood bedroom. I could sense the relief in my dad when he overheard the phone call. He was proud of me.” Trensch added: “And now, with Camelot, I’m fulfilling another dream: to work in this building, at Lincoln Center Theater. Mordred sings ‘fie on goodness.’ But theater has been good to me.”

Brendan Lemon is a freelance journalist in New York.