Interview: Nat Faxon and Creator Dana Fox Talk ‘Ben And Kate’

Ben and Kate (FOX) Cast (12)

Ben and Kate has already received promising reviews from television critics, and TV Equals was on hand to learn more about the show during a conference call with Nat Faxon and series creator Dana Fox. During the conference, Faxon and Fox talk about Faxon’s character Ben, what it was like to work with a promising young actress and more.

The idea behind Ben and Kate

Fox talked about how her own experiences growing up with her brother influenced Ben and Kate.

“I think the thing that was sort of interesting to me is that you can grow up in the same house…as brother and sister you go in completely different directions with it and that was certainly my experience and I really wanted to explore how the same background could turn two people into very different people,” she said.

She did clarify that Ben and Kate’s absentee parents are nothing like her own supportive parents, but it was imperative that Ben and Kate’s relationship with their parents was evident in the show.  “That was really important to me because I wanted to make sure that it seems like Ben and Kate were on really this island together and they only have each other and there’s no one else to come to the rescue,” she said.

Why Faxon signed on

Faxon said there were a lot of reasons for his decision to take on the role of Ben. “The first being the writing and the vision of the show,” he said. ” And I love the realtionship between Ben and Kate. Oftentimes, you read things and it’s like a married couple, there’s a lot of banter and back and forth and fighting and stuff and at the end of the day, you wonder, “Why are these people together?” I love that in this show that it makes sense, that these people can have fights and arguments and support each other and in the end, it’s family.”

Ben’s good and bad qualities

Faxon said a lot about what he likes about Ben. “I love Ben’s energy and his spontaneity and hs willingness to really go in any direction he is feeling at the time,” he said. “He is never one to over-think anything, he just trusts his instincts and you feel like you’re on a ride with this character and you never really worry about the results so much. [Y]ou follow him down whatever path he’s going to go down and I…love that quality in people [whom] you can trust that you’re going to have an incredible experience no matter what happens.

Fox said that even Ben’s not-so-good qualities can be perceived as likable. “[T]hings that you wouldn’t normally like about a person in real life are weirdly lovable when played by Nat. Because his flaws are what make him who he is and its really fun to watch people be flawed, in a way,” she said. “But there are problems with the guy for sure. There are things about him that would totally drive you crazy. But he does it with such a full heart and that brings so much fun and charisma to the character. ”

On working with Maggie Elizabeth Jones

Both Fox and Faxon had a lot to say about their young co-star, Maggie Elizabeth Jones, who plays Maddie, Ben’s niece.

“My God, she’s amazing,” said Fox. “I’ve just been in awe of her natural ability, in addition to the fact that she’ll remember everybody else’s lines.”

“She is…eight going on 36. She is so mature and smart, both as a person and as an actress,” said Faxon. “She’s really subtle…in the looks that she gives…but she also provides incredible amounts of energy on set, which is helpful, I think, because the days get long, you’re trudging through scenes and it’s taking a while and she…bursts in with this incredible, adorable energy and makes you dance around and sing songs. It’s just really fun, it loosens everybody up.”

On dirty talk

Fox talked more about Jones’ natural ability when discussing the amount of “dirty talk” in the scripts.

“One of the things that I think is also pretty extraordinary about [Jones] is that when we’ll do table reads if there’s any talk about dirty stuff that a kid shouldn’t hear about–because the show is really edgy, it’s not like a kid’s show, it’s just a show that has a kid in it who’s a really important part of it but it’s not soft in any way,” she said. “[S]o we’ll have these table reads that has adults talking about stuff that you obviously don’t want this little girl to hear. Her parents are wonderful people…at the table reads, they’ll put a headset on her in between her lines…One of the really extraordinary things is that she’ll actually be able to stay in character, stay on story and kinda riff a little bit, where she knows what her character would say at any given moment in the scene and do a little improv.  [T]hat to me is…incredible…It’s so rare to find that in an actress as young as she is.”

Ben and Kate premieres Tuesday, September 25 at 8:30/7:30c on FOX.

[Editor’s note: TV Equals also got a chance to catch up with both Dana Fox and Nat Faxon at the Paley Center for Media. You can watch our interviews below]