BY JOHN HOBBS
BEN CAMPBELL Age: 26 Home: Detroit Current Residence: Silver Lake Graduated College: 2004 Major in College: Acting Single or Taken? Single Actor You Admire the Most and Why: Totally cliché, but Meryl Streep. Why? Have you seen Marvin's Room? She doesn’t act. She is. Turn-Ons: Self awareness. Responsibility takers. Big mouths—physiologically speaking. Turn-Offs: Blamers. It also makes my stomach twist when people list their resumé for you the first time you meet them—with no interest in hearing about you. Hours a Week in Rehearsal: 30 110
FRONTIERS IN L.A.
WHAT MADE YOU INITIALLY INTERESTED IN DOING THE BENJAMIN BRADDOCK PART? I’m a specific type—I always thought I was a Dustin Hoffman type—and typically lead roles don’t come along for my type very often. We were doing it at my company, and I thought it was a perfect fit, so I jumped at it. WHAT OTHER SIMILARITIES DID YOU FIND BETWEEN YOU AND THE CHARACTER? I actually really relate more to the Elaine character. She’s like this burst of positive energy and looks at the world in a very positive way. It actually took awhile to figure [Benjamin] out. I would leave rehearsals feeling very, very neurotic and insecure about what I was doing, and I finally realized that was because I had just spent two hours in this role. It’s just how he is. HOW CONCERNED WERE YOU, BEING A GAY ACTOR, ABOUT PLAYING A CHARACTER WHO BEDS NOT ONE, BUT TWO WOMEN IN THE SAME PLAY? Actually—about three weeks into it— one of the actors said to me, “You’re really straight on stage.” And I realized that this was the first time that I hadn’t consciously thought about trying to play “straight” in a role. It was so encouraging because it was like I finally get that I don’t have to worry about it. If I am just authentic, then it’ll play. So it wasn’t weird. The thing that was weird was that I have never had to kiss a woman before on stage. In this play, I not only have to kiss two women— which is fine—but I also have to be completely naked “having sex” with a completely naked woman. NOW YOU’RE TALKIN’! HOW DO YOU GET THROUGH SOMETHING LIKE THAT? I just have to really not think about it at all. Over the last three years, I’ve done a lot of work to really learn to control and train my thoughts. So I just concentrate on being in the scene. If I thought about it, I would probably get a little freaked out. WHEN DID YOU FIRST REALIZE YOU WERE GAY? When I saw Leonardo DiCaprio on screen for the first time in Romeo and Juliet. The minute he came on screen, I was like, “Uh ... I think I’m gay because I want to make out with you.” [Laughs] WHAT OTHER PROJECTS HAVE YOU WORKED ON SINCE FINISHING COLLEGE? I’ve done a couple of bit parts in a couple different TV shows: House and Numb3rs. In Numb3rs, I was a Columbine killer. I got to shoot an Uzi at a bunch of teenagers. I’ve done a bunch of Burger King commercials. If known for anything, I am probably best known as the Whopper Jr. [Laughs] YOU’RE THE GUY DRESSED AS A WHOPPER JR.! Yeah, that’s me! That’s been supporting me for three years. It was an amazingly lucky get as far as survival as an actor goes. FINALLY, IF YOU EVER FOUND YOURSELF FACED WITH YOUR OWN MRS.—OR MR.—ROBINSON, HOW WOULD YOU HANDLE IT? If they were single, hot and I was into it—and it wouldn’t be morally reprehensible—I’d probably go for it.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN SKALICKY — SKALICKYPHOTO.COM
f you think you’ve seen Ben Campbell before, you might be right. The 26-year-old actor from Detroit scored it big a few years ago when he was cast as the Whopper Jr. for a series of Burger King commercials. This month, Campbell trades in his regular pickles, lettuce and cheese for a more conservative look, taking on the role of Benjamin Braddock (played by Dustin Hoffman in the 1967 film) for the West Coast Ensemble’s stage production of The Graduate. After a poolside photo shoot for the cover of Frontiers in L.A., we sat down to seduce—err, talk—to Campbell about the play and life after Whopper Jr.
Plays through April 5 The El Centro Theatre 800 N. El Ce ntro Ave.,Hol lywood Tickets: wcens emble.org
MARCH 8, 2009