Ben Feldman talks DROP DEAD DIVA

Last season, I fell head over heels for DROP DEAD DIVA on Lifetime – there was something so fun and charming about it, but week in and week out, I found myself missing Jane’s guardian angel Fred more and more.  When the second season started, it was so nice to see Fred back, full time, to help Jane (and really, to woo Stacy).

I had the chance to chat with Fred’s portrayer, Ben Feldman, late this week to talk about why Season 2 is so great, what’s coming up, and why he thinks now is the time to get involved with watching.

I’m so glad to see Fred back so consistently this season.  I’m sure that’s exciting to you, too!
It’s a load off.  I think last yaer, as far as where I stood, my whole thing is kind of cluttered with business stuff and other work, and coming back and how are we going to make schedules work, and it’s nice just to be accepted into such an awesome family, and be a part of this group, and not have to worry.  I get to work a lot more, and do a lot more stuff.  It’s been a great year.

Do you have a favorite thing about Fred?
I love that I’m kind of a different on on the show.  I love that I’m not a human.  As an actor, you kind of want as many sort of directions that you could go with a character, and this guy who has never been on Earth before, and I’m learning everything for the first time.  The directions are endless.  I have a huge playground to explore and to try and fill up with stories.

And you can make the character all yours because it’s not like you can research or do background research on being a guardian angel!
No one can really argue with me.  If I play it one way, no one can really be like, “that’s not right” because I’m the expert I guess.

Do you have a favorite episode this season?
I don’t have necessarily favorite episodes, but favorite moments, sure.  I had real fun, last week, there’s a whole scene where Margaret Cho’s character teaches me to drive.  I have a lot of fun whenever we shoot outside of the studio.  We did last night on location.  We shot the car thing on location.  Also, I love when I get to be with the guest stars, because rarely does Fred get to interact with whoever’s on the show, because they’re a part of the court cases, so when that happens, I’m super lucky.  We had a chimp at one point, and I got one scene where I was sort of a part of the chimp scene so that was one of the biggest highlights for me!

Talk a little about what’s coming up in Sunday’s episode.
I thought Fred was going to go out on all of these dates, and he would be this playboy, Mr. Cool, but it’s all a part of his plan to woo Stacy.  I don’t think things go as smoothly for Fred as he might have hoped to begin with.  This Sunday is another sort of example of that but you never know – one of these chicks could actually dig him. 

I love the Stacy and Fred relationship, and the idea that Fred gives up everything to get back to Earth, and she doesn’t know who he is. Will we continue to see that grow?
I think this season particularly is a very Fred and Stacy heavy season for our characters.  Most of the things I find myself doing are less guarding as an angel and more of wooing as a guy.  You’ll see a whole bunch of that.  Don’t worry.  if you’re into that storyline, you’ll be all set.

I love on the show that you can put any member of the cast together, and the scenes still pop.  Everyone has great chemistry.
I think a lot of that is a testament to how close the cast is.  You shoot outside of Los Angeles, and any time that it happens, you’re on fast forward on the friendship meter, and it kind of forces everybody to become really close as sort of a family, because you’re in this strange town that no one really knows and all we have is each other, and I think you sort of see the actors, at least I hope you do, I guess, click a lot better, because that’s what happens in real life.  We’re all kind of best friends here in midtown Atlanta.

I’ve seen interviews and things where you mention how dreadful it was being a part of recording / shooting that karaoke scene a few episodes back.  Will we get to see more of that fun?
Ahh, thankfully not this season, but I wouldn’t put it past Josh Berman, our creator, to write something like that into next scene.  He gave me a karaoke scene this season, and he gave me one last season, I’m sure he will continue.  It actually wasn’t scary to shoot, because I had already recorded it, like months before, so that was the scary part.  Showing up and actually having to put on a headset and sing in a studio.  Meanwhile, that was the same day that like Brooke Elliott and Kate Levering sang a song, and both of them are actual Broadway singers, so it’s like, they go in and knock their song out of the park, and I’m supposed to go in and do a little song by myself.

Did you have a background in music – interested in singing or anything like that?
I am a big listener of music and that’s pretty much where it ends for me.  I have a lot of friends who are wonderful and a lot of friends who, it kind of bums me out that I’m on iTunes and they’re not, because, who am I?  I’ve never been a singer.  The only person that’s ever really heard me sing is maybe my shower, but now I’m a singer, I guess!

Why is not a good time to jump on to the DROP DEAD DIVA train? Why should people tune in?
I think the show has really come into its own, and all of the characters.  A TV show in its first season, is setting up plots and characters and sort of introducing you to people.  Last season was the beginning of like the dinner when everybody’s just sitting down, and meeting each other and sort of exchanging pleasantries.  I think this season, is like 2 glasses of wine into dinner, and everybody’s really getting to know each other.  I think everybody kind of gels.  There’s a lot of really cool stories.  The writers, when you get a few episodes in, it forces you to really get creative, and come up with some great plots and that’s what we’ve been lucky enough to have.

What do you watch on TV?
I’ll watch anything.  Atlanta is a good testament to what I watch, so I’m trying to think of what I DVR in Atlanta.  I just got done watching TREME, which I thought was one of the coolest new shows ever, and I really hope HBO brings it back just because I love the kind of gritty drama, I love New Orleans, so that was great.  And then I’m a big dork, and I have THE REAL WORLD on the DVR right now, speaking of New Orleans.  But anything that’s smart.  I’m really, really excited that MAD MEN is coming back on, even though it’s on the same time of us on Sunday nights, but come on, if you can’t watch both, then go out and get a DVR.

I have 2, so I have recordings for both set!
Great, that’s perfect!  I mean, my girlfriend and I already have friends lined up who are ready to come over for our MAD MEN party, of course, slash DROP DEAD DIVA slash I leave the room and everyone watches TRUE BLOOD parties.

What else do you have coming up besides DROP DEAD DIVA?
Well, today (Thursday) is officially the last day of production on the season, so we wrap tonight, and we’re really excited.  Actually, on hiatus, we’ll go out and find movies, and that will be the focus of the main cast, to go out to try and find some movies or great guest parts, before we come back here for the new season.  We’re real lucky that we’re a thirteen episode show.  The VAMPIRE DIARIES kids are out here in Atlanta, too.  I feel like they just left town 20 minutes ago, and they’re all out here to shoot the new season.  They had like a week off.  I do not envy the 22 episode season.

I think a 13 episode show helps the show be more solid.
Yeah, you’re not stretched thin, exactly, we’re lucky.  And now I’m going to go focus on my, I make a wine, and the next thing that I’m going to be doing is to put the wine together, and sell it, and bottle our new vintage.

I read about that in your bio that they sent over.  How does one get started in the wine world?
My friend Eduardo and I, we had been friends for a long time, went to high school together.  He went to Cornell when I was at Ithaca.  We’ve been drinking together for a long time, and we were like, how do we turn our alcoholism into an art form, and we’re really proud of it.  It’s a really good wine, it’s the kind of wine you see on a nice list at your favorite restaurant, so we’re really excited about it!