Born in Kingston, Surrey, England, Benjamin Stone got his start in stage productions, and also appeared on the BBC series Randall and Hopkirk.
Moving to America, he is probably best known for his role as Blank on 10 Things I Hate About You. In his new series The Nine Lives of Chloe King he plays Alek, born in the Ukraine, but brought up in England, now living in San Francisco. He and his family have always known they’re descendants of the ancient Mai race, and they’ve been hunted his entire life. Now they’ve discovered who is the Uniter for the Mai people – Chloe King (Skyler Samuels), and Alek is determined to be her protector.
Did you come here from England for a special role?
No, I came here originally for two weeks to check it all out, because I met this manager who was an agent at the time. I was at drama school in England and I was really lucky to get plays in drama school because it’s incredibly competitive, and a lot of the people scorned me for leaving that opportunity behind.
For me it was really expensive, I didn’t enjoy it and I didn’t think I was getting better.
I would have stuck it out if I didn’t have the opportunity to come here, but I did. I really liked it here and I moved here for five months, went back to get my work papers, it took a year, then I came back and now I’ve been here two years and everything is going really well.
Are you happy you got to keep your British accent for this show?
Originally I wasn’t British. I actually got cast in a different accent as a Ukraine American and then we changed it. I got a phone call one morning, literally at 8 am, from the producer saying that they wanted me to do my normal accent.
At first I was really bummed out, because I enjoyed doing something totally different. And now I’m really glad that it changed, because it would have been such a mission to change accents because we have to do things so quickly it’s hard to even concentrate on the scene let alone changing the accent. Also, the other accent sounded more like a vampire!
You seem to balance your character’s sarcasm with being a nice guy.
It’s balancing the line of not caring and being funny and playing and teasing and being strict, but not being mean or being a jerk. It was difficult and hopefully I managed to work it out so you always see that he’s a nice guy.
Can you talk about where Alek’s love for Chloe comes into the arc?
Eventually he owns the fact that he loves her, obviously without telling her, she should figure it out herself! He’s trying to not freak her out, but again it’s towing the fine line between trying to help and protect her, but also his selfish reasons for wanting her for himself.
Did you do any research on the myth surrounding your character?
No. When you get a pilot it’s very dangerous to make stuff up and then be told something different. We only know as much as they told us. Every episode we get to know more and more.
Some things that I was told tenuously have changed drastically. Thank god I didn’t base any of my decisions on those things. So you need to be careful.
Do you have a background in fighting or martial arts?
I did stage combat at school. I did a little bit of martial arts. I probably got up to the point where I could do a good stretch warm up, and that would be about it!
If the series goes to a second season what you like your character to do?
I wish they’d let him win a fight himself. Because I find it’s always Chloe who wins and as a joke he always gets beaten up. Even the pilot, I remember reading the script and Alek is fighting the guy and losing drastically, and then it cuts to Chloe beating the crap out of the guy.
I’m like, ‘She’s just learned her powers. I’ve been at this for two years, I’m a guy.’ But more and more they are giving me cool stuff to do, so I’m very happy. At the moment I’m just enjoying the story of him and Chloe and him just becoming more of a leader and owning who he is.
Are there any genre shows that you’re a fan of?
I really like sci fi, one of my favorite shows is Battlestar Galactica. It’s for people who don’t even like sci fi, I think. My girlfriend fell in love with it, and she’s definitely not a sci fi person. I loved The West Wing as well, that was a great show. In terms of drama I tend to always lean towards sci fi.
Do you see any similarities between this and Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
I do see them, but I think it’s very different as well. There are better things with Buffy and some better things with this. But this show is still evolving.
What things are better?
I think it’s funnier than Buffy, I didn’t watch much of Buffy so I can’t really comment on it. I can’t even remember it anymore. I think this is more modern, Buffy was good ten years ago. I like the story of the Mai, and there’s more that comes out of that, more supernatural stuff and then there are things that become more Buffy-esque. It’s pretty cool.
Now that the show is airing are you hearing from fans?
Yeah, they are loving it. They are constantly asking about Chloe and Alek, which is great, because I was worried after the first episode. You never know what people are going to think.
I knew people were going to like the show, I wasn’t sure they’d like my character, if the British accent would be alienating, but I’m really happy with the feedback.