After his first UK performance in London on Saturday evening, this week Ben Platt headed to the University of Cambridge to talk to students about his multifaceted career in entertainment.
GRAMMY, Tony and Emmy award-winner Ben Platt is most known for his roles on stage as the title character in Dear Evan Hansen, and on screen in the Pitch Perfect series as Benji Applebaum. But now stepping away from the character facades he has released ‘Sing To Me Instead’, his debut album.
In conversation with Cambridge Union’s Adam Davies, Ben spoke about his many experiences and achievements, before opening questions up to an audience of the university’s students in an Q&A.
He detailed on how he adapted from acting to music, “I was working on the soundtrack for Dear Evan Hansen, when the conversation about writing my own original music came about. I had grown up rewriting pop songs with my family, for barmitzvahs and weddings. I was very transfixed with rhyme and sound and the concept of song writing, even though I’d never attempted to write a song from my own perspective before. Simultaneously, I had just moved into my own apartment in New York City where I finally had my own piano and space. So I started to tinker and see what it would sound like purely from my own perspective. Over the course of 10 months we wrote 40 something songs.”
And went on to speak about the influence of his childhood growing up in a musical family nicknamed the Von Platt’s,“There were 5 of us growing up, we all sang and wrote songs together. On car journeys we would listen to ‘Gypsy’ and ‘Oklahoma’ and I was putting on musicals in the backyard with my siblings. Music was always the way I opened up and interacted with people, otherwise I was quite quiet and closed off. I don’t know if I’d have known quite so early, or so surely, that this is what I wanted to do without growing up with it. My father is a producer, so I grew up around the business from the get-go and saw the reality of it. I was aware of how hard I needed to work in the theatrical community.”
Of course the question of being an ‘O’ away from the prestigious EGOT (Emmy, GRAMMY, Oscar and Tony) arose, to which Ben candidly replied “I’m not necessarily setting a schedule for when I’d like to receive an Oscar!” but did express his desire to experiment more with film too.
Ben described the worlds of theatre, TV and music as “wildly different, even more so than I expected”, before going on to state “Television I sort of have a skewed view on because what I’m working on is a Netflix piece, so there’s an unprecedented amount of creative freedom with Netflix that’s never been seen before and such a huge volume of material. Which is obviously very different from network television.”
Speaking of Ben’s role in television, he is set to star in Netflix’s ‘The Politician’ airing September 27th. The show is created by Ryan Murphy (know for Glee and American Horror Story) and is described by Ben as a “biting social and political satire, dark comedy about a high school election” in which he plays main character Payton Hobart alongside a star-studded cast including Gwyneth Paltrow and Bette Midler.