Interview With Actor Ben Corns

By Ruth on September 2, 2017 in Interview, movie, television, Uncategorized
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I don’t intend to ever sound like a broken record, but I still declare one of my favorite things about the Hallmark Network is that it regularly features actors who are virtually unknown, and once established within the network, the loyalty of Hallmark to these working actors is astronomical. In the case of Ben Corns, he has been the recipient of the generosity of Hallmark due to his guest appearance in season four of When Calls the Heart. While he only appeared once, Hearties (fans, actors, and crew) tend to expect him to return in season five, and who knows what other roles he might be offered in the future? Moreover, Ben and I spoke recently about his career, his aspirations within the entertainment industry, and his extraordinary experiences thus far in his emerging career.

RH: Ben, I’m so glad we finally worked it out to chat today.

BC: Thank you, Ruth, for reaching out. Actor’s schedules can sometimes be very crazy.

I have always respected actors, but the more I talk to you guys about your schedules and all that, the more respect I gain for you. {pause} So, Ben, why did you decide to become an actor?

I would say that my journey to acting is not a typical one. I have a lot of friends who are actors, and when they were little, they used to like to put on performances for their relatives at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was always a bit of a shy, quiet, and sometimes socially awkward child. But I was always engaged in my imagination, and I think as I got older, I began to see that I could use this thing I felt like God had given me that I thought was a hindrance. I was the kid who always liked to daydream. I spent a lot of time by myself.  Then in my teenage years, I began to get involved in theater, school programs, and improv clubs, and I realized that I could invest it in something valuable. I didn’t really commit career-wise to acting until my early- to mid-twenties. And that is what I consider my journey.

Well, even though most actors start out as kids, you might be amazed at just how many have similar stories to yours. Some do realize it later in life–and even later in life than you. There is no one right way to get there. Everyone’s journey is unique. Some careers, like doctors or lawyers, have a pretty clear pathway, but with acting, it’s all over the place.

That’s exactly right. I tell people that it’s like getting married or getting involved in a healthy relationship.  There’s a million and one ways that people meet one another and get involved in a relationship, and I think it’s similar in acting. I think everyone has their own story and they’re all unique.

And I don’t think the majority of actors are really outgoing. I think it’s common for an actor to be shy or quiet unless in front of a camera or on stage.

Yeah, I got a lot of hope when I found out that was actually something that could be used with acting. Sensitivity and imagination actually contribute to making good art. You’ve probably heard this before, but I find it so interesting what the job requires of the actor in terms of this weird combination of sensitivity and thick skin. You need both in this industry and that combination always fascinates me. It takes a deep heart and a deep level of sensitivity to engage well with the story. But then it takes thick skin to be able to walk into the audition room and do your job. And then you can’t make it a big deal if you don’t get that role. You go to all these auditions, and the vast majority of these roles, it seems like you don’t get. You go into every audition hopeful that you’ll get it, but it doesn’t always work out how you want it. You go to a lot more auditions than you actually book roles.

But I do think we’re lucky up here in Vancouver that the numbers are a bit more in favor of the actors than they are back in LA. I’ve worked in both markets, and I think actors probably, in general, have a higher booking ratio up here in Vancouver because there’s less competition. And that’s good, but it reminds me of one of the most common questions I get. “How do you deal with rejection?” For me, I’ve always chosen to not see it as rejection.  I enjoy what I’m doing. I enjoy the creative process, so I go in there and give it my all. I don’t perceive it as rejection, but if you don’t love doing it, it will feel like rejection.  To me, it’s just more a matter of, “Okay, this was fun,” and it’s an opportunity to tell a story.

I think rejection is always hard, but it sounds like you’ve learned to deal with it well. I think everybody has to deal with it in their own way. 

And so often, not getting the role had nothing to do with your performance at the audition. There are so many factors that go into booking a role and not booking a role.

Did you go to school for acting?

Yes, I did. First I went to the University of Alberta and studied world religion and political science. I was one of those college students who is constantly changing their major. I also was going through a challenging personal season. I started a business, but I don’t think that was really fulfilling to me. This acting thing was just always on my heart, so I moved down to Los Angeles and I went to the Lee Strasberg Film and Theater Institute. Their program was phenomenal and I got to work with a lot of great people. But even after graduating and working in Hollywood, I still felt like there was a lot more to learn. Realistically speaking, I think actors are training their whole life. So I went to another studio in Los Angeles called the Baron Brown Studio for a two-year program which concentrates on Meisner technique. That’s different than what Strasburg taught. I’ve always been curious about the craft and different ways to train. It’s something that I’ve taken seriously.

What was your first professional acting role?

That’s actually a hard one to remember; they all kind of blur together. I think my first television role was on General Hospital. There’s a kind of interesting story about that one. I had met the casting director for General Hospital at a workshop and he had seen me put a scene up. I sort of assumed, in my pride, that he would call me for an audition for the show if he felt really strong about what I did. Nothing happened, and then about ten months later, I was going for a walk on Santa Monica Boulevard, and out of the corner of my eye, I swear I saw the same casting director sitting in the shade outside a coffee shop. A couple of hours later, he had emailed me a role–no audition required–for General Hospital. He just gave me the part, and that was my first television role.

From Crossroad

My first film role was actually on a Christian film called Crossroad which I felt really fortunate to work on. I got one of the lead roles on it. I don’t know if you’ve seen the film, but it’s something like Crash that follows multiple storylines that merge together at the end. I do not know if the film was ever in the theaters, but I’m pretty sure it’s on iTunes, and it was on Netflix for awhile. {Actually, Crossroad is available on Amazon, iTunes, and many more DVD/streaming sites. I cannot guarantee it is still on Netflix, but it was the last time I checked.} It had a small following, and to be part of an independent film with a dozen other actors that had distribution around the world is a cool thing. It is wonderful that a film like this that had a really strong faith message was so well-received.

My family and I are always looking for good faith-based films, so I’m definitely adding this one to the list. {pause} So are you mostly in Vancouver now, or do you go back and forth between Vancouver and LA?

I am mostly in Vancouver. I spent a few months working down in LA last fall, and I might spend this fall back in LA. But I moved back up to Vancouver about two and a half years ago. Initially, it was just going to be a few months. But the industry was just so strong here, and the pace of life was so much more relaxed than down in Los Angeles. I just decided to stick around. It is a small town, and that’s another reason I stay here to work. There’s a stronger sense of community here than there is in Los Angeles. Los Angeles is still a smaller town once you get into the industry. Many times people will say that LA is a big city, but Hollywood is a small town. But here it’s a much more tight-knit community, and I think that helps with this kind of work. It’s not uncommon here to work on one show one week, a commercial the next week, and a month later be working with some of the same actors, crew, and directors. You do get a little bit more consistency, which I think it nice. It makes the job more enjoyable.

I noticed you were on Supernatural a little while back.

Yes, it was a lot of fun, especially the role that I got to play. I was playing the leader of Men of Letters. If you’re familiar with the show, you know that’s an underground, secret society. I love that sort of genre, and I love that time period. It was a really fun story to dig into with my imagination; I was playing an explorer. And it was humbling to be on set for that kind of role when I literally just landed in Vancouver and I think that was the second audition that I went out for. Needless to say, my agent was pretty happy about it. The crew is great to work with and I got to work with some great actors. It was a really fun experience.

from Supernatural

I have heard nothing but good things about Supernatural

That show has such a strong following. I’m sure you’re familiar with Kavan Smith. He does quite a bit of Hallmark work. I got to shoot my scene with him, and he was a great guy to work with. He’s a phenomenally-talented actor. And I’ve learned a lot by being on set with people like him. Definitely a great experience.

So what can you tell us about Deadly Pursuit?

That was a movie I filmed down in Los Angeles. That was a fun project to work on. I think that was my one and only death scene so far in a film. I got eaten by a  bear. I got to work with a live grizzly bear, which was kind of fun. But I don’t think the poor guy was doing too well in the California heat. I think it was about ninety degrees the day we were filming in San Bernardino, and it was supposed to be Alaska. It’s just one of the things that we sometimes forget if we’re watching a film. But when I was shooting it, I had three layers of wool and flannel on with this seventeen-year-old grizzly bear in the San Bernardino Mountains. And it was literally like ninety degrees and we were attempting to create Alaska.

I can imagine. It sounds kind of like the Christmas movies people film in July and August, and they have to wear all those layers of clothes. 

Oh yeah, that’s always fun to see how the neighbors react when you shoot those scenes in the summertime. It’s July and ten dump trucks full of snow roll out and spread the snow on their sidewalks and driveways and then by 10 P.M., it’s all gone. {laughs}

I guess that’s the joy of being an actor–getting to do all those unusual things that the rest of us just sit and watch because we’re just enjoying the shows and movies at Christmastime. Our only clue might be that the actors are supposed to be outside, and you can’t see their breath. That means it can’t be as cold as they are pretending it is.

You bring up an interesting point. Stuff like that always reminds me of why theater is so important for actors. Theater trains you to do all the work yourself; you can’t rely on special effects or props or anything to create what has to be created. And that is something that is still necessary for actors today. Sometimes we are required to create that reality in wintertime or Christmas. When I watch how actors handle those scenes and if they are able to make it believable for the audience, that is one of the giveaways of whether or not the actor is doing the right things to create a believable performance. If it’s not noticeable even though conditions on set are not perfect, I think the actor is doing a great job.

You were also on an episode of Impastor, right?

Yes, it was a small role, but I got to shoot a fun episode of that.

from When Calls the Heart

But of course, most of my readers are going to know you from When Calls the Heart. In fact, it was the Hearties who brought you to my attention. How did you get cast for that show?

I definitely knew about the series, and I was looking forward to auditioning for it. Again, I like that genre, and that’s a time period I just love. I considered it a joy to be part of that story, but that was actually my first audition for the show. I think they might have initially brought me in for another character. I think they may have considered me for Ray Wyatt {Jeremy Guilbaut}, but the sense that I got was that maybe I was a little bit older than that character. But they ultimately gave me the role of Bruce Weise. I got to work with Opal {Ava Marie Cooper}, and that was a lot of fun.

I am so glad that Hallmark utilizes so much of the local talent, and they are always willing to give opportunities to virtual unknowns. 

I agree, and they’re pretty gracious on set too. The director, Peter DeLuise, is just a phenomenal, phenomenal guy to be able to chat with and really easy to work with.

I always hear such wonderful things about Peter, and he has been gracious to me on social media as well. Now with season five coming up, I realize it’s just speculation, but do you think there is any possibility that your character will come back?

I would certainly be open to being brought back on the show. I suppose it’s always a possibility. I spoke to one or two of the leads when I was leaving set just to say, “Thanks for working with me. It’s great to meet you.” That type of thing. And they seem to think that they might see me again, so that’s always the hope. But obviously, it’s not an expectation. But it would definitely be fun to come back and work on that show again.

Have you had any interactions with the Hearties? 

A little bit, yeah. They really blew me away with their warmth and enthusiasm because I I tend to be late to the party with anything technology-related. I just recently joined Twitter. I noticed that as soon as I mentioned When Calls the Heart, a lot of the fans were just really, really supportive and reaching out with enthusiasm and warm welcoming.  So that’s been my interaction with them.  It’s been a nice surprise.

They are an amazing fan base. They consistently blow me away with all their support of my work. I’m just interviewing the actors, and they are so kind and encouraging. And then I see how they support the actors. They are incredibly loyal. Have you heard about the Hearties Family Reunion {Fan Convention} coming up in October? I’m sure the Hearties would love it if you were able to attend.

I am definitely interested in checking it out. All the things I’ve heard about it sounds like it’s a great experience. So I will check it out and try to talk to some of my other friends who have been a part of the show. In fact, I think I’ll talk to my friend, Jason {Cermak}. He and I have been in the same acting class for a while, and he’s a really great guy. Very talented.

Are there any other upcoming works that you can mention?

The only other thing I know of that I can mention, and it probably caters to a different demographic than When Calls the Heart, is the third installment of the Fifty Shades series. I actually shot Fifty Shades Freed about a year ago, and I think this one will come out in around eight or so months. It was a fun project to work on as well. I had not been on that scale of a film set before and the director, James Foley, was a phenomenal director to work with.  He’s directed a ton of recognizable films–Cape Fear and that kind of thing. I also got to a do a couple of scenes with Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson. I had so much fun with this film. And I know this franchise has quite a following as well.  But in terms of TV and film projects, that’s the only one that is yet to be released. Other than that, it’s just a case of going to the next audition.

Well, at least you’ve gotten to work on something with Hallmark, and you had a good experience, so you never know. They could invite you back. They have a massive amount of films they have been doing this year, and I’m sure they will be doing even more next year. And I can promise you that some of the Hallmark fans also go and see the Fifty Shades films. Hallmark fans are diverse and have very eclectic taste. It’s not my preferred genre of films, but I am more than happy to get the word out about it. {pause} So, Ben, do you see yourself as ever writing or directing in the future?

I have a lot of friends in  Los Angeles that do that, and it is quite common both in LA and Vancouver these days for actors to write solely for the purpose of putting themselves in something. My attitude towards writing is more along the lines–well, if it catches me or if I find or connect with a story that needs to be told for the sake of telling a good story, then absolutely, I will write. But I’m not sitting there racking my brain for ideas just to put myself in a show or a film. But directing is something that I’m very curious about and eventually, would love to do. I’m a bit hesitant to do it right now because I still feel like I have so much to learn as an actor. There can be a bit of a danger with an actor, in my opinion, diving into directing too soon. I think great acting always involves an actor who’s fully involved and fully invested in what they’re doing and not watching themselves at all.  I think that there can be a danger if an actor isn’t careful when they get into directing, sort of having that director’s voice and making sure as they act, they are providing that outside opinion or third eye on their work when you should really be fully invested in what you’re doing in the moment.  So it’s something that I’m interested in, but I still want to invest more in my acting before I walk down that path I guess.

I think you’re very wise on that, and I have heard similar things from other actors who say it’s something they eventually want to do, but it’s not something they want to jump into until they feel ready and have more experience. 

It is a passion of mine–both acting and the art of storytelling. Not to name any names, but I think there are a couple of actors in Hollywood who are also directors who once they started directing, if you have a sharp eye, you can actually see them directing themselves as opposed to living truthfully in the scene in the moment. There is a difference between an actor who is again just fully committed to what they’re doing as an actor and one who is directing themselves.

That is a really good point. I hadn’t even thought of that, but I see the same kind of thing with singers who direct themselves as they sing, so I get it. You have a different mindset when you’re performing as opposed to when you’re directing. 

Yes, I can see there being a similar dynamic in music because I think ultimately, when we perform, regardless of what type of performance it is, I think we want to have the freedom to really let loose and not rein ourselves in. For me, I think that’s one of the functions of the director–to rein me in if I need to be reined in. But I don’t want to have to do that myself in the moment because that could take me out of the scene.

Excellent point, Ben! So glad I asked you about that. I love learning about everyone’s perspective. 

I’m fascinated by it as well because there are so many different approaches to work, and I’m always curious myself as an actor to learn about how actors are arriving at their work. It always fascinates me to see the different methods people employ.

Thank you so much, Ben, for sharing so much of yourself today. I learned plenty from you, and we hope to see you in season five and maybe even at the Hearties Family Reunion in October!

My pleasure, Ruth. Such a joy sharing today. And fingers crossed everything works out!

I cannot tell you how much I admire and respect the unique and idyllic perspective Ben brings to his work. While he is still essentially a “newbie” in the business, that doesn’t imply that he is not self-aware or knowledgeable. He appreciates every experience within this every-changing industry, and he seizes all opportunities to glean tips and ideas to aid him in the honing his craft. He recognizes the potential pitfalls of jumping into a new facet of the industry without being properly prepared, and he never inflates his status to appear more prominent than it should be. (Actually, it sounds like he learned that lesson early on in his career.)

While I am not certain that Ben will return to When Calls the Heart, I sincerely hope that the writers and producers take it into consideration as Opal is in need of her father, and Ben seems to fill that role exceptionally well. Furthermore, I hope that Hallmark considers giving Ben a chance in one of their many film projects, for I have no doubt that Ben would bring an abundance of perspective and talent to any role into which they place him. His values, abilities, and philosophy seem to match properly with the network, and I pray that the powers that be seriously consider offering him a chance to become one of their featured storytellers. 

Nevertheless, I ask that my fellow Hearties check out Ben’s links below. Perhaps we can help him to become more comfortable with Twitter, and here’s anticipating that he may be able to join us at the Hearties Family Reunion in October. I would count it a personal honor to be able to tell him in person how much I respect him as an actor and a human being.

FOLLOW BEN

Twitter

IMDB

 

 

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth

43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl
Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA
Entertainment Writer
Available For Interviews and Reviews
Substitute Teacher

2 Comments

  1. Sandra Watts September 3, 2017 Reply

    I don’t really watch much anymore. I don’t even know who this is. Nice looking fellow though and good interview.

    • Author
      Ruth September 3, 2017 Reply

      Sandra thank you–he was only in one episode during season four, but here’s hoping we’ll see more from him not just on WCTH but elsewhere too.

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