DA MAN chatted with Benjamin Barrett a while back about his role in “The Politician,” his dream project and his journey so far.
Actor Benjamin Barrett, who we currently can see on Ryan Murphy’s Netflix comedy series “The Politician,” joined the Golden Globe-nominated show in its first season alongside Ben Platt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Lange, Zoey Deutch and Lucy Boynton. Even though his acting credits isn’t that expansive yet, but his role in the series has been well received, to say the least. Amid the ongoing semi-quarantine, DA MAN had the opportunity to chat a bit with Barrett.
DA MAN: Hi Benjamin, thanks for having us. How are you doing these days?
Benjamin Barrett: I’m doing pretty good. Times are a little crazy, but I think some positive change is in order.
DA: First up, can you give us a brief rundown of “The Politician” for any of our readers still unfamiliar with the show?
BB: It’s a satirical look at politics through the lens of wealthy kids from Santa Barbara, California. The show revolves around Ben Platt’s character becoming the school president.
DA: Can you tell us a bit about your character, Ricardo?
BB: Ricardo is the genius behind the whole campaign… Just kidding. You could say he’s sort of a dim guy who will do whatever for the woman he loves.
DA: What first attracted you to playing the character and how did you end up being cast for this one?
BB: I was actually filming a short web series that I wrote where I play a dumbass and my last day of filming is when I had the audition for “The Politician.” That’s why I originally bleached my hair. It all kind of worked out perfectly.
DA: “The Politician” season two is already out. How excited are you right now?
BB: Very excited!
DA: Is there anything you can share with us about what the future holds for your character?
BB: I’m pretty sure Ricardo will run against Payton for President of the United States … but that’s just my theory.
DA: How do you think people will respond to season two?
BB: I think if you enjoyed all the shenanigans of the first season, the second season will take it to a whole new level. Also, Judith Light and Bette Midler. That’s all I have to say.
DA: Being an actor and working on the show for “The Politician,” are you still able to enjoy it as a viewer?
BB: Absolutely not. I love watching the rest of the cast because everyone is amazing, but every time I come up, I cringe. My friends will put it on just to mess with me because they know how uncomfortable I get.
DA: All in all, how would you describe your experience working on “The Politician”?
BB: It was the most surreal experience of my life. To work with Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Ian Brennan and that amazing cast was a dream come true. I know it sounds corny, but that’s the truth. And also, to have Jessica Lange yell in my face … I mean it doesn’t get much better than that.
DA: Furthermore, since the pandemic has upended everybody’s lives, do you still have any exciting projects coming up?
BB: I have a role in April Mullen’s new film titled “Wander.” Mullen directed “Badsville,” which is a movie I co-wrote and acted in with my buddy Ian McLaren.
DA: If we’re not mistaken, you’ve also directed, written and produced a mini-series titled “Super Fighting Tian Cai” on your YouTube channel. Can you tell us more about this title and your role in it?
BB: “Tian Cai” means genius in Chinese. My mom is Chinese and I’ve always been influenced by Asian culture. So, I wanted to make this live action anime comedy. My mom is actually in it too—she sings karaoke. “Super Fighting Tian Cai” is literally what got me “The Politician.” That’s what I was filming when I had the audition. I was dead broke, was honestly thinking about giving up on acting … but instead I borrowed money and double downed on myself and made “Super Fighting Tian Cai.” I guess you can say it worked out.
DA: So far, you’ve directed three episodes of “Super Fighting Tian Cai.” What was it like being in front and behind the camera at the same time?
BB: I’ll be honest, it was hard as shit. I didn’t have much money, which means I didn’t have a lot of time and I think the project suffered because of it. But in the end, I loved every second of it and I gained so much knowledge in the experience. I wrote another project that I want to act in and direct as well.
DA: On that note, do you think that fulltime directing might be in the cards for you?
BB: No, I don’t think so. I love acting, that’s where my passion is. That being said, I still want to create my own content and tell my own stories.
DA: Do you have anything like a dream project? Or perhaps a bucket list of stories and people you really want to work with?
BB: There are so many people I would love to work with. I’ve always loved David Fincher. Even when I was too young to truly understand his work, there’s something that’s always captivated me. J. J. Abrams, because “LOST” is my favorite show ever—I’m a huge fan. Kathryn Bigelow has made some of my favorite movies. Really love what the Safdie brothers are doing. Their thrillers are so raw and frenetic. Taika Waititi is brilliant. When I was watching “Jojo Rabbit” I went through the whole range of emotions and that’s so difficult to accomplish in a film. I’m also a huge fan of Asian cinema like Wong Kar-Wai, Bong Joon Ho and Chan-wook Park. They tell stories differently and maybe it’s because I grew up with my mom, they really resonate with me.
DA: Looking even further ahead, what are your long-term goals?
BB: I just want to continue to work and grow as an artist.
DA: On the flip side, if we go back to the very beginning, what was it that first drew you to the world of acting?
BB: I always wanted to be an actor, but I was shy, introverted and so on. Then, I took the Myers Briggs test in college and one of the occupations was actor and I’ve been running with it ever since.
DA: What would you say is the best piece of advice that you’ve ever heard?
BB: I don’t know if someone told it to me or if it was a realization, but just be unapologetically yourself and be kind and listen. When you’re talking, you’re not listening, you’re not learning and I think especially now we have a bunch of people talking and no one wants to listen. But also, don’t listen to the guy who plays a dumb*ss on a show.
DA: Besides acting, what else are you passionate about right now? What do you do when you simply want to have fun?
BB: I might have a rap album in the works. Stay tuned.
DA: Last but not least, do you have any wise words or favorite quote to live by every day?
BB: “Don’t give up, you still got a couple of motherf*ckers to prove wrong.”
PHOTOGRAPHY Ian PhIllips
STYLING Kimberly Goodnight
GROOMING Robert Bryan at Exclusive Artist
U.S.-BASED CREATIVE DIRECTOR Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
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