Brad Benedict currently stars on TLC’s first-ever scripted series, Tyler Perry’s “Too Close to Home,” and I caught up with the actor to talk about early inspirations and what working on this show has taught him as an actor and a man.
What initially inspired you to be an actor?
The inspiration came from a multitude of different places. But when I really boil it down, as a young child, I always loved to be the center of attention. I loved to the entertain people and to hopefully make them laugh. I often entered talent shows even if I didn’t really have an act planned out. Extreme FOMO I guess. I remember in 5th grade, I decided on a whim that my talent would be to show everybody how red I could make my face by holding my breath. Well I ended up passing out in front of my entire class. I even enjoyed volunteering in grade school to be the one to read passages out loud in front of the class. I would really try to act out the characters’ different voices and perform it. A desire for the spotlight is a quality that can certainly be a blessing and a curse, but when harnessed properly, it has brought me a lot of happiness and smiles over the years. The final push to really do my first play came from watching my sister, Lindsay, do the play Grease in high school. I loved watching her on stage and decided that I wanted to follow in her footsteps.
How has “Too Close to Home” challenged you as an actor?
I think the most challenging thing has been to connect with the thoughts of my character at times. My character, JB, is a complete 180 from me as Brad in most aspects. He tends to be harsh, angry, defensive, violent, misogynistic and bigoted. JB refuses to take responsibility for his own actions and often exhibits very closed-minded opinions. My goal as an actor is to think the thoughts my character would be thinking in that situation and then let the lines take care of themselves. So in order to think JB’s thoughts, I have had to find a way to empathize with him, and that has been quite a challenge.
What did you learn about yourself as a man while making this show?
There is a quote by Winston Churchill that I really aspire to live up to, “Meet success like a gentleman; disaster like a man.” It doesn’t take long to realize that there is a lot of stress, anxiety, and adversity that comes with being a cast member of a television show. While I have yet to encounter any disaster moments in the making of Too Close To Home, I do feel I have proven to myself that I can stay calm and collected when unexpected adversity presents itself. It feels great to be thrown into the fire and come out the other end stronger than before. I also feel like a man has to be capable of being a team player. If you can’t be a team player, you can’t make it as a cast or crew member of a TV show. It is the ultimate collaborative venture.
This is TLC’s first scripted show. What’s it been like to be a part of something that’s breaking ground for such a popular network?
It’s an incredible honor that also comes with a big sense of responsibility. Just getting the chance to be on a TV show in general is beyond exciting, but to be a part of something that is a first for a network…that is next level excitement. I think I can speak for the whole cast when I say that we all want to bring our best and create a successful show that can go on for years and years. I am incredibly grateful to be an actor that TLC was willing to take a chance on for a show that TLC was also taking a chance on. Luckily, being under the wing of a man like Tyler Perry, I feel like we are in really great hands at all times. I realize that for TLC to take on its first scripted show, it is a bit of an experiment, and it’s just heaps of fun getting to be a part of that ride. My goal is to just keep having fun and working hard, and I believe Too Close to Home will be bringing juicy stories for many years to come.
What’s next for you?
They say the sky is the limit right? Honestly, I am not completely sure what is next. Right now I am focused on giving my all to Too Close to Home, while developing my own personal projects on the side. I have a 10-episode web series, a couple short films, and a short form cartoon series that will all be released in the coming few months. People can look for updates with that stuff on my Facebook page. I’m also eager to collaborate with as many other creative people as possible in 2017, and see where that takes me. So if anybody out there has any fun ideas that they want to partner up on, hit me up!
“Too Close To Home” airs on TLC.