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‘Dear Evan Hansen’ actor Ben Platt on anxiety and being in the spotlight: NPR


Ben Platt won a Tony Award in 2017 for his lead role in Dear Evan Hansen. Now he is starring in a new film adaptation of the musical.

Brian Ach / Invision / AP

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Brian Ach / Invision / AP

‘Dear Evan Hansen’ actor Ben Platt on anxiety and being in the spotlight: NPR

Ben Platt won a Tony Award in 2017 for his lead role in Dear Evan Hansen. Now he is starring in a new film adaptation of the musical.

Brian Ach / Invision / AP

Dear Evan Hansen star Ben Platt admits to being anxious. He often worries about the past and also about what will happen, but there is one place where his anxiety tends to ease.

“Being on stage, for me, is kind of the antidote to that,” Platt says. “This is the place where my mind is calmest.”

Platt took inspiration from his own anxiety to play Evan Hansen, a socially insecure high school student who lies about being a close friend of a classmate who commits suicide. Platt originated the role and won a Tony for his performance in the original Broadway production. Now he is starring in a new film adaptation of the musical.

Platt acknowledges that the musical, which deals with teenage suicide and cheating, has an inherent tension between being inspiring and something much darker.

“That’s why it’s kind of polarizing sometimes, because it requires that level of discomfort and that gray area,” he says. “[There’s] this kind of nuance of things being healing, redemptive and meaningful, but also morally ambiguous and difficult and false and based on a lie. “

Interview highlights

On how the success of Broadway Dear Evan Hansen added pressure and made him feel closer to his character who is also very anxious

The experience, while incredibly rewarding and enriching, was also very isolating and rather lonely, due to the nature of the role and the monastic nature of my lifestyle to support the role. Especially when we were doing press during the day and performing on TV and things like that, it required that every moment that I had for myself be spent resting and recharging myself and saving money. physical, mental and emotional energy to keep recreating the show eight times a week.

So in my own kind of mental world and in my own mind, I certainly continued to feel more and more connected to Evan in terms of anxiety and worry for others and what others might think and what others might say. And you know, these things come with the territory of something that gets that kind of attention.

At 27 at the time of filming Dear Evan Hansen, playing a teenager

I think my first thing I did was release the feeling of having to be a 100% realistic teenager because I was finally 27 when we made the movie. And it’s a very specific situation in terms of a character that I had the chance to create and develop, and that the studio and the director asked me to be the one to kind of lead this performance at the screen, and I can not do everything. . So, first I wanted to free myself from doing things that were impossible to do and just focus on a great performance. I think everything I did physically was really for my own emotional satisfaction to feel separate, for myself, to feel transformed and separate from Ben Platt and just being able to live in someone different. So those things, the most obvious, were that I let my hair grow out and let it get as Jewish and curly as possible. I shaved my face several times a day. I shaved my arms. I lost about 15 pounds. I feel like I have done everything my adult body would allow me to do.

Falling in love with Noah Galvin, the actor who took over his Evan hansen Broadway role

We know each other well before the Evan hansen to live. We were friends in the theater community and doing comedy together and having a lot of mutual friends and we already had a good base of friendship before the Evan hansen thing has happened. Obviously, the fact that he was chosen and replaced me was very different from the fact that I knew him. He was just the right person for the job and the creative team were in love with him, and I was grateful to be able to see this legacy. [go] to someone I loved and trusted. It’s just a small aspect of our many years of friendship and partnership. …

For many years as a youngster, I kind of shied away from the idea of ​​being with another artist or actor, because you hear all these stories about how hard it is to have different levels of success or success. finding support for each other or having room for each other, things like that. … I think [Noah] has a really special ability to be totally selfless, and can take all the air in the room and be the center and be as funny and as bright as anyone you’ve ever seen, but also has the ability to just being fully in my corner and supporting myself, and I can only hope that I can do the same for him. And I think the Evan hansen the experience was sort of a small microcosm of what was to happen in this regard.

Looking at Dear Evan Hansen for the first time as a member of the public

Fortunately, it was still Noah [Galvin], who I loved and trusted and who I think is so talented. And so in terms of seeing the real character, it was a wonderful experience. It’s like seeing an ex again or going back to a place as wonderful as it was, there was also a lot of trauma associated with it, given the kind of emotional angst that I sort of had to go to every night. And so looking at it, no matter what my emotional state is at the moment, when I get to those parts of the show, I naturally get emotional and go back to those kinds of mental spaces. And so it’s never an easy thing to watch. The movie is a similar experience, in terms of how I can enjoy and be proud of the piece and my performance, but it’s never an easy and breezy thing to watch.

By co-starring with Beanie Feldstein in the upcoming Richard Linklater film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical We ride happily, which will be filmed for 18 years – and thinking about where he’ll be in his 40s

I spend a lot of time worrying about what’s to come and what has already happened and not as much as I should be where I am. So yeah, I think it got me thinking: did [project] be the only type of maintenance at this point in my life that I still do, or will I still be working all the time? Or will I, God willing, continue to sing my own music, and maybe do that? And that [project] is what i jump into or will i be on stage for the rest of my life which would be wonderful too? Will I, God willing, be with Noah? And will we have children?

I think I would, theoretically, like to be, at some point, a little more of a backstage person. I would like to continue writing and I hope maybe to direct theater one day. And, you know, doing creative things, maybe even teaching musical theater to young people just to stay connected to the art and what makes me happiest, even beyond the point of maybe feeling ready to do it myself. But for now, I’m grateful to do it myself.

Lauren Krenzel and Thea Chaloner produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Bridget Bentz, Molly Seavy-Nesper and Natalie Escobar adapted it for the web.