On the Couch with Ben Gerrard

Ben Gerrard Arts Review On the CouchWho is Ben Gerrard?
Ben Gerrard is a 34 year-old actor. He graduated ‘class-underdog’ from NIDA in 2006 and has since carved out a fascinating niche career as a comedian and character-actor in both theatre and television.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I wish I’d realised sooner that perception and reality are not the same thing. As I mature I realise how easy it is for us – especially artists I suppose – to infer what others are thinking; the ‘secret’ intent that lies between the words and actions of others. However, this ‘guess-work’ can become crippling – especially when you become hung-up on social appraisal regarding your work or status or anything. Usually, we are our own biggest critics… and we project these negative self-evaluations onto those around us… when really – everyone is far too busy worrying about themselves. This realisation is so liberating I wish it had happened to me a long time ago.

Who inspires you and why?
I’m inspired by my mother. She brought up two sons, alone, in one of Melbourne’s poorest neighbourhoods, Frankston. We lived in a housing commission area but our home was a cosy palace of books, golden age cinema, and board games. She taught me to cherish education, literature, grace, resilience and individuality. I was a rather mad child and have made many dubious choices over the years but she stood by me the whole way. Everything good I’ve ever done is because of her. And for her. Now we travel the world together – two adults, and best friends.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I’d love to be a part of Psychological research. To add to the scientific conversation about the human condition. I’ve spent my summer break working with a supervisor on some forensic research and it is definitely something I’d love to do more of. An example of a very influential psychologist is Stephen Pinkering – who wrote a fascinating opus based on empirical research called The Better Angels of Our Nature. It’s all about how Humans have actually become exponentially less violent as the centuries pass… a somewhat counterintuitive notion given the attention that the media pays to violence. I’d love my psychological work to similarly challenge our collective heuristic assumptions.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Barcelona for the tapas and the sunny, decadent decay. Berlin for its history, damage and museums. London and New York for their theatre and galleries. Rome for its white-hot majesty and aperitivo. Paris for the grave of Nijinsky.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Always the Bondi to Bronte walk. It is simply the prettiest part of Sydney. I also have access to a secluded little cabin in Bowral in the Southern Highlands 90 minutes out of the city. It’s the best place to take friends for a huge cook up, drink up and wintery sleep in.

What are you currently reading?
Subliminal: How your unconscious mind rules your behavior by Leonard Mlodinow.

What are you currently listening to?
A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead. Especially burn the witch – on repeat for about a month now.

Happiness is?
Gratitude: taking stock of what you have right now.

What does the future hold for you?
Maybe I’ll run away with the army, or to Hollywood or a madhouse to write a novel. I haven’t decided yet.

Ben Gerrard is a 34 year-old actor. He graduated ‘class-underdog’ from NIDA in 2006 and has since carved out a fascinating niche career as a comedian and character-actor in both theatre and television.

Cutting his professional teeth with national tours of Shakespeare, with companies like Bell and Riverside, his TV break came when he was cast as neurotic but loveable preppy-nerd ‘Toby’ – the lead – in ABC1’s 2012 sitcom, Outland. Featured roles in horror smash, Wolf Creek 2 and tv favourites like Jack Irish and A Place To Call Home followed as well as the cabaret sensation, Songs For The Fallen which went on to tour major festivals around Australia.

However, national attention came for Gerrard when he joined comedy legends like Gina Riley and Magda Szubanski for Foxtel’s 2015 sketch comedy, Open Slather – where he shone with a comic range that saw him play everything from ‘Commando’ (The Biggest Loser) to Karl Lagerfeld and Donatella Versace.

This range was put to the ultimate test with I Am My Own Wife at The Old Fitz theatre in Sydney last year. The 90-minute one-man drama required Gerrard to conquer the accents, and psychology of over 30 characters from around the world in a story that follows the life of notorious transgendered woman, Charlotte Von Mahlsdorf. The season quickly sold out and was also a unanimous critical success with Gerrard receiving a Sydney Theatre Award nomination for Best Actor.

Most recently, Gerrard won the hearts of television viewers around the country with his sensitive portrayal of another transgendered woman, Caroline Jenkins, in channel 7’s 2016 tele-movie about Molly Meldrum, Molly. Gerrard received an AACTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his acclaimed performance.

Later in 2017 he will take on yet another one-man play for Sydney’s Ensemble Theatre – a comedy that took New York by storm, Buyer and Cellar. On top of all this, Gerrard just completed his honours year in Psychology at the University of Sydney and continues to juggle this study around ‘gigs’.

Ben will reprise his portrayal of Charlotte Von Mahlsdorf in Doug Wright’s award-winning play, I Am My Own Wife at Melbourne’s fortyfivedownstairs as part of the 2017 Midsumma Festival: 17 January – 5 February, before playing the Brisbane Powerhouse: 4 – 8 April 2017. For more information, visit: www.iammyownwife.com.au for details.

Image: Ben Gerrard (supplied)