Good on you, Mad Men! In last night’s episode alone, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce hired its first black employee and its first Jewish copywriter. While this was an unprecedented event in the Mad Men world, the latter casting is an honor for Ben Feldman, an actor who has been slaving away in bit roles for years and deserves this greater attention.
1. He’s one of those faces you see over and over without actually knowing his name. He’s had small parts in movies like The Perfect Man, Friday the 13th, and Cloverfield, but you probably know him best as guardian angel Fred on Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva. (More on that below!) He also filled in as Jason Biggs‘ understudy when The Graduate came to Broadway in 2002, though he never actually got to perform in the title role opposite Kathleen Turner and Alicia Silverstone.
2. He hates karaoke. In taking EW‘s Pop Culture Personality Test in 2010, he confessed,
I despise, I hate, I’m terrified of karaoke, and I wish I wasn’t because everybody I know who’s awesome loves it. But it really scares the crap out of me. As did that scene. I’m not really a singer, and I have so many friends who are really great singers. You do a good job, and you’re awesome, and everyone’s like, “Alright, cool.” But you do a bad job, and it’s like a really awkward feeling, and I’m really scared of awkward feelings.
Impressive answer, considering a lot of these Q&As often give way to boring, canned responses.
3. Michael Ginsberg’s exaggerated Brooklyn accent was a risk that Ben took during the audition. He told Zap2it,
“That was a terrifying choice that I made. The audition called for ‘Jewish charming New York energy.’ This audition meant a lot to me and I figured if I was going to take a risk it was going to be with this one and I went in and I did the first scene with this accent. And I immediately got nervous and said, ‘No accent? Did you hate the accent?’ And Matt says, ‘No, no, no, the accent’s fine.’ and that was basically the last time we discussed it.”
4. Aside from acting, Ben is also a wine maker. He and high school buddy Eduardo Porto Carreiro started Angelica Cellars in 2005; the website explains Ben’s love for wine:
[T]he films and television shows he has acted in have funded his love for food, wine, and travel. In fact, Ben is quite sure that that is where all of his money has gone. But in his opinion, it is just those indulgences that fuel the best times in life.
You have to appreciate witty online copy. Who knows, maybe in this case art imitated life.
5. The Mad Men job didn’t affect Ben’s future with Drop Dead Diva. He’s been written on and off the show multiple times, and it’s unclear in what capacity he’ll return after the season 3 finale, where his character discovered that his girlfriend had cheated on him.
Of Fred’s next plotlines, Ben said that while he had gone down to Georgia to film some scenes for the show, “what was going to happen to me on Drop Dead Diva was decided long before I walked onto a Mad Men stage and I think that my character there has seen his time—for now.”