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DA MAN: Though you’re originally from New York, you studied in London. What impact has this had on your career so far?
Ben Schnetzer: The obvious impact of studying abroad is that it’s where I’ve done the majority of my acting work. On a more personal note, it’s opened doors for me that would not have otherwise been opened. I think it’s very important to travel; being far away for an extended period of time gives you a new perspective on home.
DA MAN: How important do you think it is to study acting formally?
Ben Schnetzer: I think that, ultimately, the only way to truly grow in any endeavor is to just do it. But I think what drama school does is give you the space to make mistakes and take risks in a safe environment. You get to explore facets of yourself that you might otherwise shy away from in front of a camera or an audience.
DA MAN: Is being a New Yorker a big part of your personality?
Ben Schnetzer: Oddly enough, I didn’t identify particularly strongly with being a New Yorker until I left and then realized how much a part of me it is. I can get pretty impatient sometimes. Oh, and I walk fast.
DA MAN: You started acting very young; did you always aspire to make a career out of it?
Ben Schnetzer: My father is an actor, so I didn’t realize it wasn’t a “normal” job until I was much older. Naively enough, I always looked at it as being my back-up career. But when I started doing plays in school, I absolutely fell in love with it and decided to dedicate myself to it.
“I think it’s very important to travel; being far away for an extended period of time gives you a new perspective on home”
DA MAN: You’ve already worked with some experienced and admired actors, such as Geoffrey Rush and Bill Nighy. Who have you been particularly influenced or inspired by?
Ben Schnetzer: Absolutely. I try and look at every job as a workshop, to always learn something from whom I’m working with. Geoffrey and Bill definitely fall into that category. I also just worked with Ben Foster who is a brilliant actor and was generous enough to humor all of my questions. He ended up being a real mentor to me.
DA MAN: “The Book Thief,” a film you starred in last year, was based on a bestselling book. Do you feel a weight of expectation when undertaking such projects?
Ben Schnetzer: Yes, certainly but it’s very important to use this kind of pressure in a healthy way. Personally, I use it as motivation and inspiration to work harder and dig deeper. Ultimately, the film itself is in the hands of the director, so all I can do is my job, to the best of my ability.
DA MAN: You lost a substantial amount of weight for this project. Did you feel closer to the character as a result?
Ben Schnetzer: Absolutely! Though in hindsight, I probably could have been a little bit more responsible about it, but you live and learn. However, I find that when you take on a certain responsibility when you accept a role and you just have to trust yourself to do what you feel is required.
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