Actor Benjamin Stockham is only thirteen years old, but he’s been acting since he was five. Not only is he a film (QUARANTINE, SIMON SAYS) and television (1600 PENN, SONS OF TUCSON) veteran, he’s also remarkably quick with ad-libbed one-liners. At a Q&A panel with the Television Critics Association for NBC’s new series ABOUT A BOY, adapted for television by Jason Katims from Nick Hornsby’s novel, Stockham is seated with Katims and cast mates Minnie Driver, David Walton and Al Madrigal.
When someone says to Stockham, “You’re either an exceptional young actor or you’re just like your character. Which is it?” Katims and Driver both urge, “Say ‘the first’.”
Stockham says, “Well, thank you, first. Wow, really, thanks. I don’t really see myself so much as my character, but I wouldn’t call myself exceptional either – well, I mean, not in front of you guys …”
Asked why he wanted to be one of the leads in the series, Stockham says, “Mmm, I knew it was going to be a good role, because it’s called ABOUT A BOY …”
When the laughter dies down, Stockham adds more seriously, “But it really is different from all the other kids’ roles. I saw it and I’m like, ‘I want this. I’m probably not going to get it because there’s singing [in a talent show scene], but I want this anyways.’ So I got it and I’m like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I got it!’ Just also, thank you, Jason.”
“You’re welcome,” Katims deadpans.
In ABOUT A BOY, on NBC Tuesdays at 9 PM, Stockham plays Marcus, whose single mother Fiona (Driver) has just moved next door to free-spirited Will. Although Will and Fiona clash on just about everything, Will strikes up a friendship with Marcus, whose intelligence, unconventional nature and lack of standard fashion sense have made him an outsider at school.
While Stockham doesn’t feel he is Marcus, he says, “I think I know somebody like him, actually. I don’t really know him any more, but he’s pretty close to it. So I just try and be him. I tried to make him feel as good as he possibly could. I mean, it’s not about what’s on the outside. He was a genuinely nice person and I was glad to be friends with him.”
Following the panel, Stockham makes himself available for further discussion – and a few more jokes.
ASSIGNMENT X: Did you always want to be an actor?
BENJAMIN STOCKHAM: Well, there’s always that little sense of doubt, but yes, I did always want to do it. It’s so much fun. I’ve got to meet tons of new people. Everybody was so nice. I really did like acting.
AX: Is there anything about it that you’d call a hard part?
STOCKHAM: The hardest part … Sometimes when there’s a really early call time, you have to get up really early. You also have to cram all of those lines into your head and also, you have to not mess up on screen, which is hard. I just say them three times and then I just do them over the next day, and eventually, I have them.
AX: You were here last year with NBC for 1600 PENN; ABOUT A BOY is also an NBC show. Did they just tell you when 1600 PENN was canceled, “We’re sorry that show went away, just sit here and we’ll see what the next one is for you”?
STOCKHAM: I mean, I know the network, but that is not what happened [laughs]. I had to audition and do the things – but I think I did have a bit of a home advantage there. Maybe just a bit.
AX: Can you talk about the differences between Marcus on ABOUT A BOY and your character Xander in 1600 PENN? We know at least if Marcus screws up, the entire planet isn’t going to go, “Your parent is a bad U.S. president.”
STOCKHAM: Well, they have the same amazing actor. I think Xander is more of a cool kid, because he wears all black and skinny jeans, and Marcus is not. Also, Marcus loves his mother. I’m not saying that Xander doesn’t love his stepmom; he just doesn’t have that connection. That’s pretty much it.
AX: In real life, if the single guy next door came over and wanted to pal around with you, would you think, “This is cool” or would you think, “This guy may be up to no good”?
STOCKHAM: Probably the second one – the latter [laughs]. [But in ABOUT A BOY], it’s kind of the other way around. If a little boy came and said, “Do you want to be friends with me for the rest of your life,” would you say, “Yes”? I’m more the one who wants to do it and not the other way around.
AX: Will at first enlists Marcus to pretend to be his son so Will can get a date …
STOCKHAM: Yeah. He promises me food and friendship. The way to a boy’s heart is through his stomach.
AX: As an actor, do you handle your scenes with Minnie Driver differently than you do your scenes with David Walton?
STOCKHAM: Well, yes, I do, because it’s two completely different characters, with two completely different people. With Minnie, I’m more proper – she brings out the properness in me and I’m genuine with her. I’m not not genuine with Will [laughs]; I’m proper and compassionate with her, like a mother and son relationship would be. But with David, I’m more laid-back, cool-ish. I just think of it as two completely different people, so yeah, I do handle those two people differently.
AX: Do you have any other projects going on that we should know about?
STOCKHAM: Other projects going on. In 2015, there’s a DreamWorks Animation project called B.O.O. [BUREAU OF OTHERWORLDLY OPERATIONS] coming out, and I’m working on it right now.
AX: Are you doing motion-capture or voice?
AX: Do you feel like question-and-answer sessions like this are good practice for stand-up comedy?
STOCKHAM: Most definitely. I just throw all the jokes out there like, “Are they gonna laugh? Are they gonna laugh?” I think so far it was pretty good today.
AX: Is there anything you’d like to say about ABOUT A BOY?
STOCKHAM: Really, it’s just a good, genuine show, and you feel for the characters. I definitely think you should watch it.
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Article Source: Assignment X
Article: Exclusive Interview with ABOUT A BOY star Benjamin Stockham