'Lost': Exclusive interview with Sterling Beaumon, Part 1
Sterling Beaumon has been blowing away "Lost" fans with his portrayal of young Benjamin Linus. Now, his character has been apparently blown away...by Sayid. In light of these shocking developments, I had the chance to speak with Sterling about his take on acting on "Lost," the character of Ben Linus, and being at the center of one of the show's biggest cliffhangers of all time.
Now, I take pride in keeping a non-spoiler blog here, but I will state up front that while Sterling doesn't give any definitive spoilers, he does talk about a few things that seem to point in a certain direction. I'd say these answers are akin to many given by "Lost" actors that neither confirm or deny future events, but give a few hints as to what might be waiting for us a little down the line. Nothing we discuss covers events that happen in episodes that have yet to air. Whew. Disclaimer done.
I'll be airing this interview in two parts. In today's half, he discusses his start as an actor, why he used to actually hate "Lost," and shares a few of his own theories on the show. Tomorrow, I'll share his thoughts on the end of "He's Our You," and what it might mean for both his character and the show as a whole. Enjoy!
Zap2it: Tell me about the moment when the performing bug first took hold in your life.
Sterling Beamon: I don't know...I think it was when my mom took me to a performance of the "Nutcracker" in San Diego, and I thought, "I want to be up there on the stage!" So it sort of evolved from there, and it went into a modeling agent, who said I could do commercials, and then I got a commercial agent, who said I could do TV shows, so I got a theatrical agent, and it kept on evolving.
Zap2it: Would you say that Ben Linus is the role you're most identified with now?
SB: For adults, it's definitely Ben. But for kids, it's the Universal movie "Mostly Ghostly," which played on the Disney Channel. But you know adults, they don't want to come up to you and ask a kid, "Aren't you on blah blah blah?" and get it wrong. So I think adults are almost a little scared to ask. But kids definitely recognize me and come up to me.
Zap2it: "Lost" is notorious for keeping its actors in the dark about the twists and turns ahead in the show. As an actor, how do you play scenes in which your character's overall arc is in the dark?
SB: It's really hard, especially because [director] Jack Bender said to me, "Don't act like Ben, or you'll ruin what's coming up," and I didn't know what was coming up.
Zap2it: When did Jack tell you this: during "The Man Behind the Curtain," or your work this season?
SB: My work this season, because in my first episode this season ["Namaste"] Jack told me, "Sterling, act like Ben and you'll never be on the show again." Jokingly, of course. What he was saying was that I doing enough of Ben already, and if I tried to, it would just be cheesy and ruin it. He wanted it to be subtle.
Zap2it: So, are you saying you approach Young Ben like a character in and of itself, as opposed to someone that will later be played by Michael Emerson?
SB: I think I'm a little bit of both. I think Ben is a sweet kid, but he has that mean streak, like, if something makes him mad, or he really, really wants something, then he definitely will [act like the older Ben].
Zap2it: That ties into a question from Jake, one of our readers: "What is it like for you to play the younger version of someone we know becomes, at the very least, morally questionable later in their life?"
SB: [laughs] It's not that hard, it's just that you have to think about it. You have to think about what you're doing. Ben as a kid, and Ben [as an adult], he's always thinking...he always thinks about what's next. He's very devious.
Zap2it: I agree, and that brings up something from Season 3: when Ben lets the rabbit go through the sonic fence, is that kind of what you're talking about?
SB: I think it is. And truthfully, I have questions if that was really his rabbit. Or maybe that's where Marvin Candle got the idea about testing on rabbits.
Zap2it: During his first meeting with Richard, do you think Ben has any sense of his future destiny, or do you think he's simply someone seeking to escape his life?
SB: I just played it as someone who wants to get the heck out of there.
Zap2it: A few of the Zap2it readers want to know: After wrapping "Curtain," did you get any clue from the "Lost" production staff that you might come back at some point?
SB: Well, not from the production staff. But all the makeup people, and the wardrobe people, and the hair people, and a lot of the crew said, "Sterling, you'll be back, see you soon." And little did I know, they thought it would be in the near, near future. But when I went back this time it was like a big, big reunion. [In terms of time between appearances], when I first played Ben, he was supposed to be 11-12, but now he's supposed to be 14-15.
Zap2it: OK, so when Sayid talks about getting a chicken salad sandwich from a 12-year old Benjamin Linus, that's not literally true?
SB: He's actually 14 or 15 at that point. But he's just saying "12" because actually you'll find out later how old he really is.
Zap2it: Here's a question our readers wanted to know: how did you enjoy finally working with the rest of the main cast?
SB: It was a lot of fun. The thing is, the first time around, it wasn't hard to play Ben because I didn't know who Ben was! I hated the show before I was on it because it was a competitor of another show I was on ABC, and the other show that I guest starred on kept getting pre-empted because of "Lost." And I absolutely hated "Lost" for that reason. So when I met people, I hadn't really watched enough of it to understand the significance of the people. So I had met Michael [Emerson] and Josh [Holloway], but I didn't realize how big they were to the show. So this last time, when I was actually working with a lot of them, I was like, "Oh my gosh...you're Jack! You're Ben! You're Sawyer! You're Kate!"
Zap2it: You just mentioned Michael Emerson. Have you two actually talked behind the scenes, trying to develop the character together? What advice has he given you about the role, if anything?
SB: Well, we really haven't. I mean, before I didn't know a lot about Ben, and he didn't give me any pointers. But this last time, since I'm a big fan of the show now, and watch it like an addict, I actually talked theories with him, and he had some pretty interesting ones.
Zap2it: OK, such as? Give me one.
SB: One that we both sorta think is true: Locke and Ben are brothers. Because their mom has the same name, so same mom and different dads...or maybe even the same dad, we don't know who Locke's father is!
Zap2it: Now you've got me intrigued. Have any other ones you can share with us?
SB: You remember Marvin Candle's kid in the beginning of Season 5? I believe that's Miles. And I know one of those [two theories] is true, because I once ran into Damon Lindelof, and asked him if any of these three theories is true. The first one is that Annie is Charlotte. And of course now we know that's not true because we saw Young Charlotte at the age of three when Annie would be my age. So the only two left are "Ben and Locke are brothers" and "Miles is Marvin Candle's kid," and Damon said, "One of those is true." But he never said that more than one of them isn't, so I think both of them are.
OK, that's all for today's installment. In tomorrow's edition, Sterling discusses the ending of "He's Our You," the repercussions of that event, and shares his thoughts on the online "Lost" community.
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