A young actor is taking his first huge steps towards a promising acting career and we’re here to witness history being made. Take note of his name, Benjamin Levy Aguilar.
Even though he’s still new in the acting world, Benjamin Levy Agular booked his first role just a week after his first audition. The Guatemalan-American actor life changed drastically after that. Most recently, he starred in the latest FOX’s dramedy called “Filthy Rich” as single father and MMA fighter Antonio Rivera. In a short time period, he had to wrap his head around so many new things, not to mention that he had to transform his body for the role. But in the end, all the hard work pays off, his craft improved and it worked wonders on his confidence. DA MAN chats with the eager actor about his new and latest role.
DA MAN: Hi, Benjamin. Thank you for taking the me for this interview. How are you doing?
Benjamin Levy: Thank you for having me! You know, times are tough right now for the world in general, and I carry that with me. But other than that, thankfully, I am doing very well. It’s been over a year since we filmed the show and it’s so exciting to see “Filthy Rich” finally about to air. I’m also busier than ever with interviews and photoshoots, and it’s cool to have things to do while in quarantine.
DA: It seems almost a cliché to ask this, but how are you adjusting to life under this pandemic?
BL: The pandemic was hard in the beginning—not gonna lie. I’m a very social person and I love to be around people: in acting class, at work, with friends. So, that’s been hard. But slowly I’ve learned to make the best of it. It’s been the best time I’ve ever had to focus on myself, my emotional and mental health.
DA: By now, the first couple of episodes or so of “Filthy Rich” has started airing. For any of our readers who might still be unfamiliar with the concept of the show, can you give us a brief rundown?
BL: “Filthy Rich” is about a wealthy Southern family, who owns the largest Christian TV network. The patriarch of the family dies in a plane crash and in his will, his wife—played by Kim Catrall—comes to learn that he has three illegitimate children and I play one of them, Antonio Rivera. There’s drama, there’s humor and a lot of twists and turns. You won’t know what’s coming!
DA: How about your character, Anto? Can you tell us a bit about him?
BL: Antonio Rivera is a single father and MMA fighter doing the best he can with what he’s been given. Life has taught him how to fight, how to survive. In spite of the hardships, his heart remains pure. Still brave enough to love. But then again, when required, he can f— shit up too!
DA: What was it like preparing for the physical aspect of this role? Especially considering that you have quite an extensive background in martial arts and combat sports…
BL: The role certainly required a very high-level of training. MMA fighters have a specific body type, ways of moving and attitude that were important for me to capture with Antonio. I’ve had to train intensely on my kickboxing, jiu jitsu and wrestling techniques, and really amp the intensity to get my body in the shape it had to be in for the role. Of course, Krav Maga always taught me how to access my aggression and that is something that Antonio brings out when he’s on the mat.
DA: Speaking about your background in sports, we also learned that you used to be quite into soccer—which is huge here in Indonesia. Do you still play once in a while? Or do you still follow any of the major leagues?
BL: Soccer will always have a very special place in my heart. During the hardships growing up—like losing my father as a young boy—the passion that I had for soccer was the reason I stayed healthy and sane. You could say that soccer saved my life. I mean that. I almost went professional when I was younger with AC Milan but I’ve never really followed leagues that much. My favorite player will always be Ronaldo Nazario. Sometimes, I still do like to go to the park and play.
DA: Back to “Filthy Rich,” the series has quite an interesting cast and crew, from Kim Catrall of “Sex and the City” fame and series-creator Tate Taylor to Academy Award-winner Brian Grazer as executive producer and more. What was it like working with this team?
BL: It’s been a dream that I don’t ever want to wake up from. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by such an amazing team in my first job. I’ve learned a lot from each of them, they took me under their wing as they all knew I was so eager to learn and absorb everything I could. I think as the season progressed, we kept getting closer as a group. I am so thankful with Tate for believing in me and giving me this opportunity. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better role.
DA: All in all, what do you enjoy the most of being part of “Filthy Rich”?
BL: Where do I even start? Literally everything is new and incredible to me. Let me make a brief list for you: Having my first screen test, getting my first TV credit, shooting my first pilot, getting picked up, transforming my body for the role, working with so many amazing people and learning from them at an unbelievable pace. My craft has definitely improved, and my confidence has greatly increased. And the list goes on!
DA: What do you think will audiences around the world enjoy the most out of this series?
BL: “Filthy Rich” is going to be a crazy, fun and unexpected ride. Each one of these deep and complex characters has their own moves, backgrounds and secrets. Everyone is fighting for something that really matters. Whether it’s power, love, acceptance, money or family. I think fans are going to have a blast. There is drama and humor and a lot of worlds colliding.
DA: Filming for “Filthy Rich” obviously began way back before the pandemic broke out. Can you tell us how shooting a TV series works these days with social distancing protocols etc. being a constant requirement? And in what ways do you think it will change in the future?
BL: Thankfully, we wrapped up filming in January just before the pandemic hit, so we didn’t have any social distancing problems. However, now we are doing a lot of interviews via Zoom instead of in-person as they normally are. So, I’m becoming an expert at that. Hard to know when that will change.
DA: Do you have any other film projects coming up that you can tell us about?
BL: I have a project I am working on with Richard Cabral that is based on his life story as a gang member from East Los Angeles who turned his life around. It’s still in the works but is very close to my heart.
DA: Moving forward, do you think you’ll take on more behind-the-camera roles besides acting?
BL: I would never say never, but right now as I start my career, my goal is to improve at my craft as an actor.
DA: What is it that you like the most about being a professional actor?
BL: That I will never get bored of it, because I get to play or be anything I’ve ever wanted to be.
DA: What are the types of characters that you’d like to explore more of in your future roles? Or perhaps there are certain genres that you’d like to delve into?
BL: I would love to have the opportunity to do all types of genres as long as the characters are layered and the story is worth telling. I’ve always enjoyed romantic comedies, heavy dramas and action movies. That being said, I would love to play Batman!
DA: If we were to look back along your career so far, what would you say has been your most important role to date? And what is it that makes it particularly memorable for you?
BL: I did a short film called “Spirit” about an MMA Fighter that had to lose 14lbs the night before his weigh in. This is a side of fighting sports that is seldom talked about and is extremely dangerous. To take on this character I went to Tijuana, Mexico, with a professional group of boxers in search of inspiration for my character and lost 27lbs in 30 days. Nine of them in the last two hours.
DA: Outside of acting, what else takes up your time? What else are you passionate about?
BL: I love watching my favorite movies over and over and over again. I also love going on long drives while listening to music to clear my head and I am addicted to chocolate, “Friends” and romcoms.
DA: Last question: The past half year or so has been hard for people everywhere. That being said, in what ways can you still be positive? What is it that keeps you hopeful these days?
BL: Like I said before, times are tough right now and I carry that with me. However, I have been waiting for over a year now for our show to come out and it’s been something to look forward to this whole time.
PHOTOGRAPHY Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
STYLING Kimberly Goodnight
GROOMING Dylan Michael using DP Hue & Color Wow
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