One great thing about Sunday nights this summer is that I’m bombarded with new TV to watch. After all, we’ve got new Leverage and new Drop Dead Diva.
Whew, it’s a good thing I have a TiVo!
What else is a good thing? That I got to talk to Ben Feldman–Fred–from Drop Dead Diva. That’s right. I talked to the guardian angel himself.
He’s a really nice, fun guy, and our call was just as fun as watching the show itself. Take a look below at our interview. Ben spills what’s to come for Fred, what he thinks will happen for Fred and Stacy, and his favorite guest star–a chimp!
Check it out, and don’t forget to watch a new episode of Drop Dead Diva tonight on Lifetime.
So I’m wondering, what made you interested in the role of Fred in Drop Dead Diva?
Well, you know, originally it was just an audition like everything else for the most part for me. And it was, it wasn’t even a regular. It was a guest star on a pilot that may or may not get picked up. And I just thought at first that it was a clever show, and it was smart, and I could see it having a shot. And, uh, a good gig to go to Atlanta and work for once and meet some new people. Who knew that it would turn into–maybe someone did, I guess Lifetime knew–but, uh, I didn’t know that it would turn into such a big success and be a big hit, and I’d be here two years later still doing it.
And Fred has become a very fast fan favorite on the show, and I know a lot of people were disappointed when you left the show a couple times last season. Was there a reason for that?
Well, you know, I wish I could say it had something to do with stories, or it was an idea that any of us had had, but it was really just a bunch of boring stuff about scheduling and other projects. You know, boring Hollywood business stuff. But that’s all over and we worked it out, and I’m here, and I’m in every episode now, and I’m just super super lucky to be, uh, you know, I guess welcomed into this really really cool family.
[Read more after the break!]
Well, we’re really excited you’re sticking around this season. So obviously your character, Fred, is very close to Jane. How is it working with Brooke Elliott? Did you guys hit it off right away?
Yeah, Brooke is–Brooke is real cool. You know, I would imagine if I watched this show I would have no idea what she was like in real life because she’s so many different things in the show, and she’s just, she’s really really really smart and real funny in real life, so she makes being on set with her a lot of fun. And we have a whole bunch of, you know, ongoing jokes and ridiculous little bits that we do. And she’s also just a brilliant actress. Like, she’s–you know, you work with some actors and you kind-of, sometimes you have to phone it in or fake your way through it. But never with Brooke. You feel real safe acting with her because you know that she’s got it.
And how’s your relationship working with Kate Levering been now that she’s playing Kim, your new boss?
Kate’s one of my favorite people on the planet, and I’m just real, real happy that we get to d0–when we work together, those are some of my favorite days. And I’m so glad that the writers figured out a way to put Fred and her together because it’s not something last season I ever would have guessed, and I would imagine the same goes for the viewers, as a pair that would ever coexist on this show, and so it’s been really really fun, and I think we play off each other’s energy well both on screen and off.
Yeah, I really love the dynamic between the two of you. I think just such a great addition to the show.
Like, we help each other’s characters really well.
So I know that this season Fred is still hoping to get Stacy, but it looks like, especially in this upcoming episode, you’re starting to date a little more. How’s that going to work out in the season ahead?
I think Fred, uh, at the beginning of this season I was sorta under the impression that Fred was going to be Mr. Ladies’ Man, cool guy who was going to meet a bunch of girls and be all smooth and Casanova, but that obviously is not the case because Fred is a little different than the rest of us, I suppose. And yeah, he goes and he explores and he meets some women and he tries his best, but I think in the end, it’s all kind-of a part of his big plan, and he’s always got his eye on Stacy. Like he said to the cop last Sunday, you know, it’s really–everything else is kind-of secondary to Stacy is what I’ve sort-of been learning as Fred, as he changes.
And that was really such a fantastic scene. I was laughing out loud. [Laughs]
[Laughs] Thank you.
Do you think he’ll ever get Stacy?
You know, I hope so. I, um, it’s his long-term project, and I would imagine any good show recognizes those–recognizes who’s really meant for each other–and good writers, like the ones that we have, have a great time playing with it and teasing it for a long time, but inevitably that’s gotta be the case, right?
Well, I hope so. So, outside of the show, I hear you have your own wine label. Can you tell me a little bit about how you started that, and your interest, and how much time you can even devote to it?
Yeah. Well…one of my best friends, Eduardo, and I, we met in fifth grade and went to high school–the same high school–and I went to Ithaca and he went to Cornell, and we both live in LA. So I’ve known him for a long time, and we have definitely been drinking for a long time, longer than we should have, probably. And I guess, we just figured a way of turning all of that drinking into an art. And–and that’s what Angelica Cellars is. And he knows a lot more about wine than I do, like he’s a big-time wine director/sommelier in Los Angeles. And he knows his stuff, and he’s got all the connections. I’m just sort-of the super-passionate, I guess, co-pilot, but we make a really good wine. Like, I’m really happy about it. It takes a lot of time, and we’re in charge of absolutely everything, everything from the very moment the grapes are picked to what kind of barrels they’re in, all the way down to what the bottle looks like, and even designed our own corks, so we’re super-hands on. In fact, we’re going to Napa in, like, a week to be there for the bottling of our next vintage.
Wow, that’s awesome.
Yeah, yeah, it’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of fun, and it can be draining, and there’s a lot of business involved–you know, any time you have a big passion and it comes to fruition, you start to learn that there’s a lot of BS that comes along with it, but we enjoy it every step of the way.
I guess that makes it all worth it anyway.
Exactly, and it’s a fun thing to talk about at the dinner table.
So you’re not unfamiliar with working with ensemble casts, since you worked on Living with Fran. How is Drop Dead Diva different.
Well, Fran, that was—it was a sitcom, and it was a multi-camera sitcom, which is a completely different beast than these hour-long shows. And I would assume–well, and I know–very different than the half hours that are what we call single-camera, which really just means, you know, there’s one camera that’s shooting you, and there’s not an audience and it plays more like a movie. …That show was a lot like theater. It was almost a much easier schedule, and a much more consistent schedule. You show up for just a couple hours of work. Anybody that’s on a sitcom, on a half-hour multi-camera audience sitcom, they’re the luckiest actors when it comes to schedules because you can just kinda blow in and out, and you do your thing on Friday night and then you go home, and that’s sort-of it.
But, um, I had a blast on that show. It was a lot of fun. I still talk to Fran and a lot of the other cast, and it was my boot camp, I guess, for being on television.
That’s really great. So how have you reacted to your new Drop Dead Diva fans?
[Laughs] Fans will always be surreal to me, no matter if I go back to waiting tables or if I become Tom Hanks. It will never stop being strange to me. But what’s really cool is they seem to be everywhere, and we’re real lucky that we shoot here in Georgia, so you kinda get out of LA, because if you’re an actor in LA and you’re on a show, no one cares, or at least they pretend like they don’t care. So you really don’t any kind of reaction, you don’t have people coming up to you on the street. But we shoot here, and we feel super important. We feel like a lot of people are out there and showing a lot of love for our show, and it’s always fun–you know, a lot of people get embarrassed or nervous to come up and say something to us, and every once in a while we’ll be in a groggy mood and maybe not as nice as we want to be, but for the most part, I’m always thrilled when someone comes up and says, “I love your show.”
Great. So I know this show has had a few moments of singing and dancing. Will we get to see you partake in any of that?
God, I hope not. Um, I did the singing thing already this year and rapping last year, and I’m sure they’re write some other karaoke scene for me next year, which just makes me petrified. You know, I’ll do it, and I come from theater and I have a lot of friends who are actually good at it, and certainly the people in this cast. You know, Brooke and Kate and Josh were all big theater actors. Brooke and Kate, who have been in Broadway musicals. So, um, at least you’ve got some great backup on this show. Hopefully, they’ll give them the song and dance numbers, and I’ll just be the guy in the next scene. But knowing Josh Berman, the guy who created this show, there’s–he’s going to find ways to mess with me that involves singing and dancing, I’m sure.
Well, alongside that, you’ve had a lot of fantastic guest stars. Have you had a favorite?
Yes, Suzy the Chimp! [Laughs] We had a chimp on our show earlier this year, and it was the coolest thing in the world to work with, like, a, you know, an animal that’s a beautiful, amazing, really intelligent animal, and it just sort-of stopped everyone on set in their tracks, and we just wanted to stare at this thing. So that was probably the most interesting, surreal thing, but yeah, we’ve had–a couple of my best friends guested on the show this year. James Schneider, Aaron Yoo are two of my best friends that were both on. It was really kinda bizarre to have Jake, the Bachelor, on, especially because when he was here was right when all of that fake scandal with a, um, the girl from his show–all that stuff went down while he was in Georgia shooting with us, so that was kind-of a big crazy event as well.
But yeah, I love them all. When we get a good guest star, my first thought is, “Good.” Good for the show, that’s awesome. That’s just going to make us that much better. We’ve been real lucky with the actors that we get.
Anyone you’d want to see on the show?
Um, yeah, you know, I’m still waiting for DeNiro to come and do a guest spot. [Laughs] Um, no, you know, for me, really, the show and keeping my job comes first, so if it’s someone that other people are going to tune in, maybe who wouldn’t have already tuned in to see, then I’m ecstatic.
Well, one final question for you: Tell us in, I don’t know, twenty words or less one reason why everyone should check out the show if they haven’t already.
You know…let’s see, twenty words or less… It’s a show that appeals to a lot more people–it’s a show that appeals to a lot of people, and I think people expect because, you know, people who don’t know expect a Lifetime show to be a certain thing, and I think this is something that could work on any network with any demographic. Husbands, boyfriends, dads, sons–the guys can watch, too, and they dig it as well.
Great. Thanks so much, and thanks for taking the time to talk to me today.
Well, thanks so much, and it was good to talk to you.
Don’t forget to watch Drop Dead Diva tonight–and every Sunday night–at 9/8c on Lifetime.
*images from Lifetime Television