How did you land the role of Ben on Dietland?
I actually auditioned for Eladio first, which is funny to think back on now. I made a self-tape for the role of Ben. When I found out that the producers wanted to meet with me, I dove into the book and the scripts again… even that early on I could feel it was a special project. A few weeks after that session with the producers, I found out I had booked the role.
Dietland’s directors are all female. How does that compare to working with
We actually had one male director (the lovely Michael Trim) but yes, DIETLAND is absolutely female-driven. Each director brought a unique approach to the material. Helen Shaver fiercely elevated the visual storytelling to heighten Plum’s journey, Amy York Rubin did majorly thoughtful preparation which made for a focused and efficient set, and Marti Noxon (the engine behind this whole world) compels her actors to play within the material, always laughing and inviting exploration. These are just a few examples. Our leaders, who are almost exclusively female, have proven that it’s possible for a TV set to be fun, inclusive, efficient, and respectful…all at the same time! It improves the quality of the work too.
Tell us about working with Joy Nash. You two have an interesting dynamic
with Ben seemingly in love with lovable Plum.
Joy is a dream to work with. She’s generous, humble, and kind to everyone. It’s been so moving to witness her journey through this process and to know our show is being led by someone with such talent and integrity. She makes my job easy.
Which do you personally think is the strongest episode in Dietland’s first
Well I haven’t seen the last three episodes yet (I am watching them come out in real time), but I especially enjoyed Episode 7. I love seeing Plum take up space and let loose. I think the work Joy and Tramell do in their big fight scene is incredible, and they pose a lot of difficult questions. That is also largely a testament to Marshall Heyman, who wrote the episode with a lot of boldness and compassion. It’s exhilarating to watch.
What would you like to see the show explore with regards to Ben if the show
gets renewed for season two?
Ben is maybe the only person who loved Plum from the beginning without condition. He’s not asking her to lose weight, gain weight, provide intel, become radical, be bangable, go to therapy, change, stay the same, none of that! He’s just like…”will you come to my birthday party?” I think there’s value in an unconditional love like that and I’d be interested to explore it. In the same breath, Ben is largely innocent to the experiences of marginalization that most other characters in the show are confronted with. If we get a second season, I’d love to see him pulled more deeply into those realities and for his open-hearted nature to be put to good use.
On The Deuce, you worked with James Franco as a stand-in since he was
playing twins. How was that experience?
I am hugely grateful for my experience on THE DEUCE. More so than being a stand-in, my job was to be an acting partner for James in scenes featuring the twins. To act such great writing with such a prolific actor, but be spared the pressure of an audience, is a real gift for a young actor/writer. It was invaluable to learn how TV happens on that scale…it sparked me to begin creating my own material as well!
If you could guest-star on any show, which would it be?
It would be cool to go full-circle and return to THE DEUCE as a guest-star. I would also give an arm and a leg to be on BROAD CITY, but I think I’ve missed my shot now that the show is ending. I’ve watched season three all the way through at least 4 times. THE HANDMAIDS TALE is another one that I watch religiously. And one of my career goals is to be a guest judge on RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE. So there’s that too.
Dietland airs every Monday on AMC at 9/8c.