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Presenter: Hello, everybody, and welcome to our daily program ‘Five Minutes with a Star.’ Today we are happy to have here Ben Jones, a famous actor and musician. Hi, Ben!
Ben: Good afternoon.
Presenter: So, Ben, now you are a celebrity, but how did it all start for you? Tell us about your younger years.
Ben: I was raised in a creative household, sort of speak, with an actress mother and a father who founded the American Comedy Institute in New York. It was only natural that I went into acting too. I began my acting career off Broadway, opposite Kerry Mulligan in 2011. And then I was cast for a supporting role in a major gangster drama of HBO.
Presenter: That was a breakthrough, right? How did it happen that you got the role?
Ben: Mark Douglas, the Producer and Director, reached out to my agent and we all Skyped and they offered me the role. I was really taken by the script. It wasn’t a script, really. They called it a ‘scriptment.’ It was a combination of descriptions of scenes, some scenes were written out, and pictures.
Presenter: That’s quite unusual.
Ben: It is. This is how Mark works. He even collects photos for this reason. It’s a big way that he works, which is fantastic. As an actor, for me at least, it’s really important to know the Director has a real, visual sense, and to get a sense of what the movie is going to look like because it is a visual medium. It helped me to relate to the story a lot. I thought it was really starkly truthful.
Presenter: Did you have any acting classes at all? I mean, did you learn to be an actor?
Ben: Yeah, actually the first acting class I ever took was taught by my mother, and it was an improvisation class. And that was my foundation as an actor. It’s a great way to work. The spontaneity of it was incredible. It was really cool. My first acting jobs were very scripted. You needed to say the lines exactly as they’re written, and all the rest of it. So, coming from this experience to Mark, where we didn’t have to do any of those things, and trying to bring that energy into a different set of circumstances, was really fun and helpful for the performance.
Presenter: What are some of the downsides of improvisation?
Ben: The downside is that if it’s not well directed, and if people don’t have the sense for thinking of some funny things or interesting things to say, it can go nowhere. But I think it’s a great thing for all actors to do as an exercise, whether it’s in a class or actually for a final product. I think it’s a really, really, important skill.
Presenter: You’ve worked with some great directors. Do you feel like you’ve been able to pick and choose the roles that really interest you? Or, as a young actor, do you sometimes have to take roles because it will lead to other roles?
Ben: The first few years in my career, it was about having experiences and learning, and making some money so I could afford to live. But beyond the fact that I did a great TV show, it also gave me some financial freedom. So these days, I’m trying to absolutely only take on projects that I feel a very strong connection to – which can be scary sometimes. But it feels like the right thing for right now.
Presenter: Is it scary if you go through a period when you’re reading all these scripts and nothing strikes you like that?
Ben: It’s incredible how much bad content is produced, in my opinion. There’s also a lot of great stuff. You’ve got to read through everything, because you never know when you’re going to find a gem somewhere. And they always come up. There’s never too long a wait.
Presenter: Thank you, Ben. It’s been a pleasure talking to you today.
3. What does Ben say about the beginning of his career?
1) It was probably inspired by his parents.
4. What was special about Mark Douglas’s script?
2) It contained some photos.
5. How did Mark Douglas’s script help Ben to succeed in his role?
2) He began to think better about the movie’s story.
6. What is NOT TRUE about Ben’s first improvisation classes?
3) They were very strictly scripted.
7. Why did Ben enjoy working with Mark Douglas?
2) He could use his improvisation skills.
8. According to Ben, an improvisation can go wrong if …
2) the director isn’t good.
9. What kind of projects does Ben try to participate in now?
3) Appealing stories.