The hit Netflix series YOU is back for its third season! Filled with murder, love, obsession, and sex, the cast has grown and one of its additions is the talented, Ben Mehl. Marking his debut in the world of TV, the actor acclimated quickly and reminded himself to stay true to who he is and things would be alright! Truly embracing everything about that experience, let’s see where else Ben ends up!
What drew you to audition for YOU?
I’m a newcomer to TV, so when they reached out with this audition, I jumped at it and did the best work I could, as I always strive to do. But I did love Dante’s sense of humor and that he seemed to have a true kindness to him. I was also very excited at the prospect of bringing my experience with vision loss to the part.
Were you a fan of the first two series?
I hadn’t seen the show before I auditioned, but once I watched it, I quickly became a fan. Part of my preparation was obviously watching the first two seasons, and that was the easiest homework I’ve ever had! I loved getting hooked by the incredible writing and performances in the show.
Share with us what it was like being the “new guy” on set.
I was nervous, but I went in with the intention to just be me. I was cast for what I brought to the role, so I wanted to trust that. I didn’t want to try and fit in in some way, or conform to some idea of what I thought I should be like, but rather just trust my work on the role, and bring my full self to it. I’ll even reveal I was worried about not having a more muscular physique for the camera, but then I caught myself doing that thing of giving into pressure to conform to an idea of what I should look like or be like on TV, and I thought, you know what, I’m just fine.
Did you learn anything new about yourself while filming?
I went into this with relatively little experience working on camera and I learnt an old lesson in a new way. I can allow myself to be simple, as long as I feel grounded in the reality of the character and the situation. I sometimes feel a need to impress, or entertain, but I felt like I was able to simply breathe and live through truthful moments without embellishing or flourishing too much. Although I still did have fun finding Dante’s humor within that context. It’s just a different kind of humor than what I found in, say, the Government Inspector, a farce I played in that called for broad physical comedy.
Tell us about your secret obsession!
I do enjoy watching science videos on YouTube. I especially enjoy Michael Stevens’ channel, Vsauce. I love learning new mind-blowing things about life and the universe we live in. In university I double majored in drama and astrophysics, because I do love math and science, and am particularly passionate about space. I also love talking with my big brother about these topics for hours on the phone.
How have other roles helped you evolve as an actor? Is there one in particular that stands out?
I did a play in which I played a charming, seductive Italian man who has an affair with an American woman. Growing up, I never thought of myself as sexy, ever. But for this part, I had to believe it, which took a lot of courage for me. Çiğdem Onat was my director, and her note to me was rather than seducing her, I should be making love to her with my words. She also told me not to smile, unless it was truly earned. Letting go of that smile as something that I could hide behind, or as a way of apologizing for myself was profound for me. I grew a lot from that role, because I believed in myself in a new way, in a more grounded way. That role and others have changed me as an actor and as a person, because they allowed me to explore sides of myself I hadn’t known were there.
Growing up, what was your favorite way of relieving stress?
I spent hours lying on the floor, tossing a ball up as close to ceiling without letting it touch as I could, while listening to my favorite music, like Bobby McFerrin or the acapella group, Cadence, trying to imitate with my voice what I was hearing. I could also spend hours beatboxing to myself…and still do sometimes.
Was there a time where you felt like you couldn’t keep going forward? How did you overcome it?
When I was diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease, and when I lost my mom, were two very difficult times for me. In both instances I took time to mourn and eventually came to accept my new reality and go from there. Sometimes we don’t want to see the truth, but I think the space between fantasy and reality is pain. So the more we can embrace our reality and let go of the fantasies we hold on to about how we think things ought to be, the more we can allow ourselves to grow from where we actually are.
What does love mean to you?
There is the euphoria of falling in love, and then true love is everything after that. Love withstands ups and downs, changes and challenges. Love is listening and forgiving, supportive and generous. Love is a trust that returns more to you the more you put into it. Love grows deeper with time. Love is not to be taken for granted and requires work. Love is wanting to put in that work together.
My biggest fear is the next question in this interview!
What comes next?
I don’t know! For all I know YOU may be the last project I ever work on! …just joking…I hope. I don’t know what my next project is yet, but I’m looking forward to it, whatever it is. I hope this part can open some doors for me. I love to act and I have dedicated my life to it. But for now, I am loving teaching acting and spending time with my family. I have learnt to value myself for the things I do in my life that are unrelated to my successes or failures in my acting career. But you can be sure I’ll keep you posted on what comes up on Instagram @benmehl