It’s been described as the Heathers for the new millennium, this tale of high school villainy and revenge that is the theme for the outrageous first script by SNL’s Tina Fey. While the film is all about ‘The Plastics’ versus the rest pf the high school body, Jonathan Bennett plays the object of some of their affection and is having a ball working with some of Hollywood’s beauties, as Paul Fischer reports.
Question: Were you a little overwhelmed by all the girls in this cast? You’re like the girl in this movie.
Answer: I am. I’m the chick. That’s what Mark Waters would say ‘you’re the bitch of the movie’. Usually, it’s the other way around. You usually have the girl that’s the object of desire, the hot chick. I’m not the hot chick.
Question: Was it intimidating working with all the girls?
Answer: (Grabbing the press kit with pics of all the hot girl cast members) I mean look at ‘um. They’re great. It’s a little intimidating. You show up on set and there are these four beautiful women and on top of that fact, the whole time they’re going to be lusting after you, drooling over you. I would volunteer. I would stick to the plan and do it. They’re lusting after you but then realize that they’re getting paid to say that and it kind of blows your fantasy after a while. I was being paid to reciprocate, however, I would reciprocate it for free. That’s what I told them. I said ‘I’ll do the movie. I’ll do it for free. I just want the part’.
Question: Was it like this when you were in school?
Answer: No. In the movie my character Aaron Samuels is oblivious to what’s happening. He’s completely oblivious to these girls falling over him. There’s that one scene where he’s walking down the hallway and the girls are cat fighting behind him as he’s doing and he’s just doot de doot de doo. He has no clue. It’s girl world. They have their own world.
Question: Did you date any of the popular girls at your school?
Answer: No. My first three years of high school, I wasn’t that cool. I mean my legs grew like an inch a day and my jeans were always too short for me because I would always grow out of them every month. I had this weird growing spurt. I wasn’t that cool in high school. I was friendly with everyone. It wasn’t until my Senior year when I kind of matured into my looks and became student council president and things like that. I still have horrible luck with girls. Did Amanda and the Plastics just leave? Okay, they were with me when I tried to pick up on a girl in Toronto and they all just came up to me and started to console me ‘oh, we feel bad for you’. I really am horrible at it. I can talk to anybody but when it comes to somebody that I like, then I turn into like this five-year-old kindergartener in a sandbox.
Question: Did the (actresses) give you tips?
Answer: Jonathan. Yeah. They’re like ‘don’t try so hard’. I think that’s my problem.
Question: How many auditions did you have to do and did you have to audition with Lindsay?
Answer: Four. It’s kind of like “The Price is Right” when you’re getting cast for a film like this. ‘Come on down!’ You go down and you do it and you have the first audition in which you have to impress the casting director and once they like you they pass you on to Mark Waters (director) and he has to like you. Once he likes you, he puts you on tape and sends it to Lorne Michaels (Producer) and all the other big wigs. Mark would take the tapes from the auditions, the director’s session, six or seven guys and they were going to test like three of us. To pick which ones they were going to take, Lorne made his choice, everyone made their choice of who they were going to test and then Mark went and played the tapes in front of about eight or nine interns that were girls at his office and he didn’t say anything. I remember him saying that he put my tape last and they played them all. He said, ‘the last one came on and it was you and literally, eight out of nine of the girls sat up and went ‘oooo’. He knew, ‘okay, we’re testing him’.
Question: How old were the girls?
Answer: They used girls that were interns so early 20’s or late teens.
Question: How did your test with Lindsay go?
Answer: When I went in I didn’t know who Lindsay Lohan was going into the screen test. I’m sorry, Lindsay, I apologize. I had seen “The Parent Trap” but I didn’t know what her name was. I went and saw “Freaky Friday” the night before my screen test with her because it was playing in theaters and I remember seeing “Freaky Friday” and being pleasantly surprised that she was a good actress. You never know with the teen girls but she was a good actress. We went to screen test and she was great. I really felt this chemistry between the two of us. We both have this great rapport. We’re very playful with each other. We pick on each other a little bit but it’s more of a brotherly sisterly type. We had this thing where, even in the scenes where we’re kind of intimate, there’s always that little bit of playfulness behind out eyes in all the scenes. I think, once we were done, I was her choice for who they wanted.
Question: How did she help you in the screen test?
Answer: That’s not her job. She had three guys and she didn’t know if I was going to be her favorite. She was very nice and came up and talked to me and got to know each other a little bit before we started testing but it’s such a weird process. You’re under so much pressure. Your whole life for the next year is based on these four minutes.
Question: After seeing you in a girl-centered movie, how to producers and casting agents think of you for other parts? Is it hard to come into your own?
Answer: One thing that I made sure Aaron was was very charming without trying to be charming because, the charm about Aaron Samuels is everybody likes him. He’s the guy and every guy wants to be best friends with and every girl wants to date. The charming thing about him is he doesn’t know that all the girls in school were in love with him. That’s part of his innocence and charm. That’s what I tried to play. Hopefully, when they see the film they’ll pick up on that. And I’m about the only guy in the movie.
Question: Did your time on “All My Children” overlap with Amanda?
Answer: No. We missed each other by like about two weeks. I left and she started two weeks after me.
Question: Did you take away any lessons from working in Daytime?
Answer: Doing a soap is like boot camp for actors. It’s one of the best, rewarding experiences of your life because you learn how to memorize 83 pages a night and you learn what face looks good on camera. I know if I use my eyebrows too much it’s going to stick out because they’re big! If I use them too much in my acting, I’m going to look like an idiot. Like doing this (he wiggles his eyebrows) when I’m talking. On screen it’s like Boom! Boom! Boom! That’s why I keep my eyes as still as possible whenever I’m doing a scene on film now. I know, if I start moving around too much, they’re gonna look stupid. You take away learning how to take direction. That’s the best thing you take from a soap. You’re getting direction over a monitor from a control room two floors away and it’s like the voice of God comes over ‘Jonathan! Can you be a little bit more angry about the fact that your mother is dead’. Okay, sure. No problem. You know that everyone knows what you’re direction is so you’d better take it. They’ll know if you did it wrong.
Question: What did you talk to Lindsay about.
Answer: The birds and bees. I’m kidding. Lohan and I talk about just things that happen. It’s Lindsay. She’s great. I went from not knowing who she was to not being able to get rid of her because she’s everywhere. She’s on everything. Now, I can’t open a magazine or turn on television or pass a bus stop without seeing her face.
Question: Do you want that to happen to you?
Answer: I would like it to happen to me but it’s a very scary thing. Her life is different than any other 17 year old and that’s the weird part about her. We feel she’s so mature. Talking to her you feel like she’s 25 or 30 because she’s so mature for her age. But when it all boils down you’ve got to remember that this is a person that just graduated high school. A 17-year-old who is everywhere. She’s her own country. She’s like the Olsen Twins. Minus being the richest women in Hollywood.
Question: Who would you love to act with?
Answer: Two people. Comedic-wise, I’d like to work with someone like Chevy Chase because he’s one of my idols who I grew up watching like “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”. I hope I’ll me him because he’s going to be at the New York premiere. Lorne is bringing all of his (SNL) people. Everyone keeps making fun of me because I don’t even care about the New York premiere. The fact that he’s going to be there at the afterparty is all I’m excited about. He’s one of them and then Michael Caine. There’s something about him that I really want to work with for a couple of reasons. He’s like my acting guru, who I follow because he’s such a good actor, one of the best. And the fact that he wrote a book on acting called “Acting in Film” by Michael Caine and he did a tape of it. I read that book before I do every project. It’s a hundred pages, a quick read. When I’m flying on the plane up to shoot “Mean Girls” or whatever I’m going to do I always read that book on the way. It’s one of the best books written for actors.
Question: Are you doing anything at the moment?
Answer: We have a couple of things we could do but we’re holding off to see what happens after April 30th.
Question: What qualities do you look for in someone you would like to date?
Answer: I think the qualities I look for in a girl I’d like to be my girlfriend would be the way Lindsay’s character is before she becomes a plastic. Very real. Plastics, you’re very attracted to Plastics. Guys are very attracted to Plastics. You want to take them out on a couple of dates and wine and dine them because they’re Plastics and there’s something about them, about girls that have all this power. You know that they’re bitches and you shouldn’t like them and you shouldn’t want to be attracted to them but you are. It’s the biggest mystery of guys I think. There’s something about girls like that that we like. But to actually have as a girlfriend, someone who’s honest and anti-plastic I think.
Question: Was a girl ever mean to you in high school?
Answer: Girls aren’t mean to guys in high school. They are mean to each other. Girls were never mean to me. Even if they are mean to you, you have it a lot better than the other girls. They aren’t going to go out of their way to develop a plot to make that guy get hurt. Guys aren’t threatening. Other girls are the competition. You are usually what they’re fighting over. Even if you’re not someone you want to date, you’re still a guy and they have no competition with you.
Question: But the guys are oblivious to it. Now that you’ve done the film do you pay more attention now?
Answer: Absolutely, after doing the film. I think the fun thing about this movie is, hopefully, I can just see the conversations in the rides home with the dates who’ve seen the movie. The guy asking the question ‘so, does that really happen? Do you guys really do that’? I think it’s gonna cause some fights.
Question: How big is Rossford, Ohio (where he was born)?
Answer: (Sings “Dueling Banjos” tune from “Deliverance”) indicating Hicksville. (we laugh).
Question: But you know everybody in town before you get to high school.
Answer: Yeah. That’s true. There is definitely a different dynamic because the cool part about growing up in a small town is you know everybody. The bad part is…you know everybody. You know everything that ever happened to anybody and who they dated and what happened, who’s been pregnant and who hasn’t. You know everything.
Question: What do guys do when they want to get mean?
Answer: If we don’t like each other, we punch each other. It’s violent. Guys just don’t care. We don’t take the time to plan behind each other’s back. We just say, If you don’t like me, screw you’. If a guy doesn’t like you, you know because you have a black eye. If you get in a fight you end up being friends a week later.
Question: How would you get guys to go see this film?
Answer: My quote to get guys to go see this film is ‘Four beautiful women in short skirts’. That should do it.