ghe returning to high school was hard work for Ben Platt. The singer, Broadway prodigy and film veteran was already 20 when he started working Dear Evan Hansen in 2014. By the time the acclaimed musical was made into a movie, he was 27 years old. To play a teenager would be an exaggerated exercise.
âI shaved, you know, three times a day,â Platt says of Zoom, sporting a full beard now, âwhich is funny because when I was in high school there were five or six guys with beards, but what do I know? ” He lost weight too. âI was on a sort of deprivation diet. And I was walking 14,000 steps a day and using the little Fitbit guy, and I lost about 20 pounds. “
It almost worked. When the film’s first trailer was unveiled in May, it sparked a wave of social media talk, mostly about Platt’s age. Some thought he was clearly too old to play a teenager.
When I bring up criticism, Platt is generally gracious. âIt’s a very selective crop right now,â he says. âThere are about a hundred different examples of things being interpreted the same way, where all high school kids are actors in their early to mid-twenties. And sometimes people like to climb on specific things just because. I have no control over it, and that’s fine on my end.
Platt is an efficient, talkative but thoughtful interviewee, analytical but always spontaneous. He is, quite simply, a pro. His hair is tousled – he let it grow out to play Hansen and keep it that way. When I ask what the writing on his T-shirt says, he gets up to show me: it’s the name of the Adidas brand, in vintage cursive.
While Platt is well aware that there can be “no right to anything” in a creative career, he knows how much he helped shape the character of Evan Hansen. His performance as an anxiety-riddled teenager, whose personal life is turned upside down after a classmate’s suicide, made the musical an international phenomenon and earned him a Tony Award in 2017. Platt worked and developed the role for years, long before the play did. on Broadway. The result was a rare synergy between character and performer – the kind that makes it almost impossible to imagine someone else in Hansen’s place.
âI created the role and I prepared it in the studio and read it and did the out-of-town production and off-Broadway production,â says Platt. âI really built it with the writers and a lot of me, my rhythms, my voice and who I am is embedded in the character. … This is the only character who, in my opinion, has become mine. Universal Pictures agreed. When the time came to produce the film adaptation of the musical, the distributor would only go ahead with the project if Platt reprized the role.
It was an emotional journey as well as a physical one. Platt, like Hansen, suffered from anxiety – replaying it meant revisiting a range of uncomfortable emotions. “An experience as incredible as [the role] was and the doors she opened to me and the power of the story, it’s a painful and difficult thing to go through all the time, âhe says. Yet at least he didn’t have to go through the full panoply of emotions six nights a week. âWe only had to visit each place in history once,â says Platt. “If we were to shoot [the uplifting duet] ‘Only Us’ all day, it was a very happy day.
While all of this was going on, Platt fell in love with the man who had once replaced him as Evan Hansen on Broadway. He and Noah Galvin have been talking about their relationship for several months, in interviews and on social media.
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Romance is the inspiration behind Platt’s new song, “Happy To Be Sad”, a bittersweet pop ballad released Friday July 16th. Platt and Galvin spent the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic together before being forced into a long-distance facility when Galvin had to go shoot a TV show in Vancouver, while Platt was scheduled to shoot a movie in Georgia.
âThe day he left I felt such a strange mixture of [emotions] – a real pit in my stomach and a real sadness because I missed being next to me, “says Platt. âBut at the same time, I felt this excitement, this euphoria and this joy. I had never had this experience of finding someone who could make me feel that way. And I was like, “How lucky is this person out there now?”
“Happy To Be Sad” is taken from Platt’s second studio album Reverie, which follows its debut in 2019 Sing Me Instead of. Where its debut was full of powerful ballads that showcased Platt’s showtune-infused lineup, the new version draws on that DNA and gives it a retro, synth bent. The album took shape in the summer of 2020, when Platt was quarantined with his parents in Los Angeles, working in his childhood bedroom.
âI was living in this weird limbo because of where I was,â he says. âI felt very connected to the past and to who I was and where I was from and the comfort of that – mixed with the fact that the pandemic has given everyone a new perspective. And I was in an adult relationship, I felt very involved and very advanced. So I felt stuck in the middle of those two things.
Looking back, Platt’s childhood reads like a premonition of his future career. The son of a film, television and theater producer, he attended the Adderley School for Performing Arts in Los Angeles as a child (other alumni include Modern family‘s Sarah Highland, model Gigi Hadid, and Heby Jack Dylan Grazer). As a young adult, he enrolled at Columbia University in New York City, dropping out after six weeks to play one of the lead roles in The Book of Mormon, first in Chicago and then on Broadway. Meanwhile, Platt played Benji Applebaum in two Perfect cinema. Then in 2015 came Dear Evan Hansen, the acclaimed musical that made Platt – as a New York Times The headline said it – “The Lying, Sobbing, Loving Broadway Toast”.
Platt has had continued success on television (playing the lead character in two seasons of cheerfully chaotic Ryan Murphy The politician) and in the cinema. He is ready to play in The people we hate at marriage, a film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Grant Ginder, starring Allison Janney and Annie Murphy. Platt’s character is gay, which as he recently put it NME, “It’s not something that I’ve done very often” but it’s “something that I really wanted to do, just because I like to see more and more queer actors telling their own stories. stories â.
âWe should be able to play anything across the map,â he says now. âThere’s a joy, excitement and comfort to playing a queer character that I think people who aren’t in that position can take for granted. Because there are elements of yourself, manners, instincts, and humor that sometimes you need to calm down or avoid when playing a character who isn’t queer. I’m really excited to be able to use all of these things and lean into them and experience the freedom of them.
Platt is also eager to return to the stage – first to spin his album, then to the theater, his “happiest place.” He “was dying to come back to that experience and that lifestyle”, whether it was playing in a Shakespeare play or doing another musical – “whatever is new again”. Speaking of Broadway, Bruce Springsteen recently drew an anti-vaccine protest outside his own Broadway venue for demanding that his audience be vaccinated against Covid-19. Does Platt agree with the policy?
âAbsolutely,â he said. “I mean, it’s up to everyone what they want to do, but when we’re talking about live artists who are maskless and who are in the room with you, then I think it’s perfectly fair to ask. that if you want to come and share that experience and be in this room, then you should have something that is completely free and available to everyone and that has been scientifically proven to be very useful.
In an industry known for giving as much as it takes, there’s something almost supernatural about Platt’s determination to keep conquering new lands. He says it is because of his “relentless conduct”.
âI have always had a very specific directive,â he adds. “I started working when I was nine and knew I wanted to be a performer back then.” Still, the pandemic and her relationship with Galvin gave her a new perspective: âI’m putting a little less pressure and stress on myself because I have something so fulfilling. I am very happy to have this kind of change. But I will always have a little fire under the buttocks. It’s just who I am.
‘Reverie’ releases August 13 with single ‘Happy to be Sad’ now available