Justice League is one of the most anticipated movies of 2017. As of this writing, the final trailer for the DC Comics-based property has been released out into the wild.
Fortunately for us, we had the opportunity to interview one of the film's supporting cast members: up-and-coming British actor Sam Benjamin.
Eagle-eyed readers may recognize him from his role as Cillian Murphy's shady Border Officer in the third season of the acclaimed drama Peaky Blinders. He also gained attention earlier this year for a one episode guest appearance on Doctor Who.
Benjamin caught our eye because he is the co-creator, producer, and star of the web series The Few, a modern take on superheroes based and filmed in London.
He very graciously took time out of his extremely busy schedule to discuss with us his experience on the set of Justice League, working with director Zack Snyder, his inspiration for The Few, and more!
T7M: First Sam, congratulations on your role in the Justice League motion picture! Being a part of one of the most highly-anticipated superhero films ever must have been a pretty heady experience. Do you recall what your first day on set was like?
SB: I remember everything vividly! Being transported onto Warner Bros property and seeing that famous WB logo everywhere was just fantastic. I had already been up to the studios for a costume fitting and a haircut but when I went back to shoot and got taken to this huge sound stage, it blew me away. It all felt very real when suddenly I first sat down in hair and makeup and I saw one of Aquaman's wigs sitting on the counter!
T7M: Zack Snyder is one of the most prominent directors in Hollywood. What was your experience like working with him?
SB: I loved working with Zack. I've obviously watched pretty much all of his films, and am a huge fan of 'Watchmen' and 'Man of Steel' and getting to be directed by him was a very proud moment. He was on set for every shot, and called every take. Sometimes the director on a huge movie is a bit less hands on, but not Zack. My character is in quite an action-packed part of the movie, and Zack really got into it. And he's a DC guy through and through. He's really physical, and brought this great energy to set, which filtered through to the whole cast.
T7M: Did Mr. Snyder offer you any advice as a burgeoning filmmaker yourself?
SB: My role in the movie was shot quite quickly, so there wasn't much extra time to chat about my own film projects! And when you're on such a demanding movie any downtime you do have, you find yourself just shooting the breeze and have a bit of banter to relax rather than agonise or ask questions about other projects that don't relate to the one you're shooting in that minute. Not to mention the fact that Zack was very busy in between takes. We did have time to share a joke or two whilst drinking a blended superfood smoothie. What was also great was that I got to meet Geoff Johns. I told him how much I was gripped by Batman: Earth One - I'm sure he gets that a lot! Hopefully I'll be on a set again with Zack sometime soon. I understand he's taking a break from filmmaking right now, so I wish him and his family well. It's a unique situation on this film because it's actually Joss Whedon who has finished off the film. It won't be until I see the final theatrical cut that I'll know if my character is part of Whedon's vision.
T7M: There are so many expectations being placed on this movie. While you were filming, what was the overall tone like on set?
SB: Like I said, Zack laid down a very energetic, playful tone on the set. I guess when you are dealing with such a huge tentpole movie you have to get through it by dealing with what's happening on that day, in that moment. I definitely didn't feel rushed or like there was too much pressure. On any film, it's always a race against time of course, so I'm not saying it was a laid back affair - there was a really nice balance of urgency, but with enough time to get it right.
T7M: I understand you are a big fan of comic books. In your opinion, why do you think films based on superheroes and comic books have struck such a nerve in the cultural zeitgeist?
SB: Yes, I'm a bit of a comic book guy! There are so many reasons for why superheroes have such an appeal. I once watched an interview with Alex Ross on the DVD extras of 'Unbreakable' and he broke it down that the superhero genre has within it so many elements that maximise it's appeal. Fantasy, science fiction, crime, romance, adventure, tragedy, horror and more. All the elements are there. At the end of the day, a story is a story. Just like the Greek myths we have these archetypes that allow us to ask questions about ourselves in our own lives. Kevin Conroy likened the Batman character to Hamlet, and I think he's right. These larger than life superheroes can be Shakespearean in their complexity and theatricality. Oh, and spandex. Who doesn't like seeing people in spandex?
T7M: You have worked on many acclaimed British dramas including the period piece Peaky Blinders and the iconic science fiction series Doctor Who. Do you have a genre preference?
SB: My genre preference depends on who's offering me a job! Seriously though, I'm just a lover of movies and TV, and I have time for all genres and styles of show. Any story within any genre can be mesmerising or yawn inducing. But I'd be lying if I didn't say I had a particular love for sci-fi, action and superheroes! I always say that Tim Burton's 'Batman' (1989) is probably my favourite movie of all time. And TV wise I'm a bit of an addict when it comes to Marvel's Netflix shows and the CW's superhero titles.
T7M: Aside from your busy schedule as an actor, you also co-created, produced, and starred in your own superhero drama, The Few. It’s an exceptional web series we covered here at The 7th Matrix. For our readers who may be unaware, how would you describe its premise?
SB: What if three ordinary working class people in London acquired super powers...
T7M: The Few was filmed on location in London, giving it a sense of style and atmosphere distinct from other onscreen superhero sagas. Why was it important to you to film in London?
SB: Myself and co-creator Sam Bradford wanted to create a uniquely British superhero story. It had to be London. There's a lot in the story about the legacy of Empire and the role of the UK in the modern world, so the 'Big Smoke' with all its history was the perfect setting. As you saw from the series, the landmarks, the beauty and darker, grittier parts of of the town are all just stunning and made for the perfect setting for our online series.
T7M: The Few also features a very diverse cast. Why do you feel more inclusive representation of marginalized and minority groups in media is so important?
SB: We got a lot of attention and praise for the diverse cast, which was great. I think it's all about telling as authentic a story as possible. In the case of 'The Few' we tried to have a cast of characters that reflects modern day London, which is a huge melting pot of backgrounds, ethnicities and culture.
T7M: What’s next for you? How can our readers keep tabs on your latest projects?
SB: Next up, I'm going to be starring alongside Kyla Frye in a brand new feature film directed by Sam Bradford. It's being produced by the same team who made 'The Few' and Amazon Prime short film Double Cross and while I don't want to say too much, it's going to be a bit of a crime caper heist movie. We're shooting in January and I'm currently writing the screenplay for it, which is keeping me very busy! Other than that I'm auditioning for some exciting new projects, so hopefully I'll be back with you soon talking about another sci-fi role! People can follow me [on Twitter] @sambenjaminnow - say hello!
Judging by his already impressive resume, Mr. Benjamin is proving to be quite the prolific actor whose profile in Hollywood is most definitely on the rise. In fact, his bearing, physicality, and personal passion for the subject matter make him a perfect candidate to be cast as a superhero.
What superhero role would you cast him in? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
Also, make sure to check out his terrific superhero web series The Few.