While many television viewers may have recently become familiar with Nat Faxon thanks to his latest starring turn on Fox’s hilariously heartwarming new comedy BEN & KATE, or as a result of his recent Academy Award winning work (alongside COMMUNITY’s Jim Rash and director Alexander Payne) for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Descendants, this TV Addict will always hold a special place in our heart for Faxon thanks to his winning portrayal of “Kevin the P.A.” on the short-lived brilliant-but-canceled WB series GROSSE POINTE. Which is precisely why, when recently afforded the chance for a little one-on-one time with the multi-talented actor/writer/performer in Toronto to promote the show on CityTV in Canada, we jumped at the chance. The result, five questions with BEN AND KATE star Nat Faxon, who dishes on the unexpected success of his new series thus far, what it’s like with working with two adorable co-stars and his dream Fox crossovers. See for yourself after the jump.
BEN AND KATE recently received a nice vote of confidence from Fox by being on the receiving end of a fairly early full season pick up. Did that come as a surprise?
Nat Faxon: Yes, I was absolutely surprised. We were brought onto the stage one day and my neurotic brain thought it was all over, like, “Ahhh really… this is the dream job and now it’s coming to an end?” But it turns out it was an announcement that we had gotten picked up. Talk about instant euphoria as well as relief. Being on a new show is challenging, especially on a show like BEN AND KATE that needs time to gain traction, so having the support of the network is huge.
The titular brother sister relationship is such a strength of the show. Was it a challenge to find Kate after you were cast as Ben?
It was. There was actually discussion of pushing production to next season because the producers were having some trouble filling the role. But then Dakota [Johnson] came it at the eleventh hour, read the script, met with the producers, read opposite myself, and the next day we started shooting the pilot. It was really frantic and fast but luckily the two of us just meshed really quickly, established a relationship and everything fell into place. We have a very brother/sister type relationship on and off camera. We can make fun of each other, laugh a lot, annoy each other, get pissed, forgive, forget but beneath it all there is always love and respect.
The other standout of the series is Kate’s daughter played by the absolutely adorable Maggie Elizabeth Jones. How does it feel to be constantly upstaged by your pint-sized co-star!?
It’s tough, because she upstages us adults a lot with her cuteness, but she can’t help it, she’s a bubbling burst of light. She comes on stage, teaches me new songs, dance moves and is a constant source of energy which is great because on set it’s long days and you need that kind of pick me up that she’s constantly providing. It also helps that she hasn’t gone “Hollywood” yet. She’s got an [Apple] iTouch that she’s always on, she can’t make calls but she keeps saying, “If I have internet I can basically make calls so I’m basically using an iPhone!” It’s really funny because she wants to be there, but her parents have done a good job of constantly reigning that in. She’s from Atlanta and goes back there constantly, back to school where she’s got a strong foundation and a stable family. I don’t think she’ll be a terrifying story twenty years down the line, she’ll be one of the good ones.
Any chance we’ll see your Academy Award Winning co-writer Jim Rash pop up on the show?
I hope so. I would absolutely love to get Jim on the show in some capacity. There is nothing in the works as of yet but I know some people so perhaps I can put in a good word. Although, he hasn’t reciprocated by doing me the favor of getting me on COMMUNITY, so until that happens… then we’ll start talking about it. I feel like I could play the Dean’s weird, well I don’t even know what I would be because I’m not really sure what exactly the Dean is specifically, which I think is part of the allure of the character — this ambiguous guy who dressed up in weird costumes — so maybe I could be his make-up artist or something.
And finally, now that you’re part of this fantastic Tuesday night lineup, do you have a dream crossover that you’d like to see for your character?
I feel like Ben could get himself into an episode of BONES some how even though I know that’s not apart of our comedy block. I definitely could solve some crimes, Ben and Kate does sort of sound like a detective agency that would uncover a murder. But in terms of Tuesday nights I would love to appear on any of the shows in any kind of cross promotion. I’ve gotten to know Mindy Kaling a bit through the whole process of promoting our shows and think she would be very fun to work with. I could be a patient — actually that probably won’t work out [Editor’s Note: Kaling’s character on THE MINDY PROJECT is a gynaecologist!] — but I could date someone who is going to see her and spend a lot of time around the office. Just to act on camera with those guys, I think it would be truly hilarious.
BEN AND KATE airs Tuesdays at 8:30PM on FOX (CityTV in Canada).