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Benjamin Ratner

Benjamin: "I felt like I finally found a
place I truly belonged".

Conducted by Phil Davies Brown
July 21st, 2006

Ben Ratner has already notched up appearances in many of genre TV's finest shows, yet he continues working within the realms of the genre and beyond, continuing to grow as an actor.

I caught up with Ben to chat about the differences between film and television acting, and the reasons for Canada's reputation as the number one destination to shoot genre shows.

Read on for the skinny on the benefits of working in Canada and to find out what working of some of the world's favourite genre shows entails.

How did you get into acting?
Many paths lead me to acting. Between the ages of 11-25, I was an amateur boxer, a standup comedian, a journalist, and a musician When I took my first acting class I felt like I finally found a place I truly belonged and I've stuck with it.

You worked on the movie Fall into Darkness, what was that like to work on?
Fall Into Darkness? I think I played the shifty boyfriend of the girl from Growing Pains in that. It was a MOW back in '96 or something.

Benjamin: "I must have been well cast".

You appeared in both The Outer Limits and the Twilight Zone. Did you enjoy being a part of two of the most widely recognised genre shows ever to appear on TV?
I did two episodes of The Outer Limits. One was an electrician who is horribly electrocuted by evil spirits. They had me in full body make up from my scalp to my waist; burns, blood, boils, the works. It was very nasty to put on and even nastier getting it off. The other episode I was a gang leader called "Blanco" who messes with the wrong guy. In that one I had a huge Pompadour with a big white spot -- hence the name, "Blanco."

In Twilight Zone I played a sleazy Hollywood agent. When I arrived on set the assistant director actually thought I was one of the actor's agents, so I must have been well cast.

Kingdom Hospital was highly anticipated by genre fans. Was it a pleasurable shooting experience?
I was glad to work on a show by the master, Stephen King, and I was glad to be extremely overpaid for a change.

You have also appeared on both The Collector and Smallville which are current hot favourites amongst young audiences, how do these shows differ with say Kingdom Hospital which is perhaps a little more marketed towards adults?
On Smallville and The Collector the cast is young and learning on the job, in Kingdom hospital the cast are seasoned veterans. Older cast equals older audience. By the time Smallville and Collector finish their runs, however, their cast members will also be veterans of television, and eventually they will be playing Moms and Dads and crazy old doctors, too.

Benjamin: "It was not a career
highlight for me".

The Dead Zone is another great show you have worked on. Why do you think it has managed to be more popular than the film version?
The Dead Zone movie was fantastic. Christopher Walken was in his creative prime when that was shot. Perhaps Michael Hall, frankly, was a more focused performer about twenty years ago, but I was still glad to have been on the TV show version for two episodes - once as Michael's lawyer and once as the nut case who kidnaps him. Michael did send me a thank you note after my second episode, which was a classy and unexpected gesture.

Now that you have conquered TV do you plan to move into film?
I have done many films, both Canadian and US. If you want to see some of my leading roles look for Last Wedding, 19 Months, Moving Malcolm, and the upcoming Mount Pleasant, to name a few. I am currently playing Matthew Perry's brother in a film called Numb.

You were in the film Severed which has had great word of mouth. How did that come about?
I know the director, Carl, from around town here in Vancouver, and told him I would be glad to appear in the film if he wanted me in it. He cast me as one of the evil businessmen. I'm glad the film had good word of mouth, but it was not a career highlight for me.

The film has a great cast. Did you all get along?
I shot all my stuff in a few days with Jerry Wasserman, and didn't see most of the other cast, who are indeed fine young actors.

Canada is the place to be for genre projects of late, why do you think Canada proves popular amongst producers? Surely it's not just tax breaks?
As long as it makes financial sense for US productions to shoot here, they will. They're not coming for the fresh air and good weed, I assure you.

What can we expect to see you in next?
I just did an episode of Stargate, which may appeal to your genre audience, and the aforementioned Mount Pleasant and Numb, which will be out in 2007.

"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview Benjamin.
And we wish you the very best of luck in the future."

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