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Ben Platt on love, lyrics and living for now: ‘I’m a Charlotte – I jump in’

Ben Platt on love, lyrics and living for now: ‘I’m a Charlotte – I jump in’

Ben Platt | Photo: Atlantic

The ridiculously cute Ben Platt is what you might call an overachiever.

An acting veteran at 25, his first theatre role was with Wicked’s Kristen Chenoweth in The Music Man at the Hollywood Bowl age 9. He joined Broadway’s The Book of Mormon in 2012, before a Tony Award-winning turn in Dear Evan Hansen from 2015.

Roles in the Pitch Perfect movies and Will & Grace followed; later this year he’ll star in Ryan Murphy’s new Netflix series The Politician (alongside Gwyneth Paltrow!). But first, the music…

After publicly acknowledging his sexuality for the first time via last month’s Ease My Mind video ( in whichCharlie Carver plays his on-screen boyfriend), Ben releases his gorgeous, intimate debut Sing To Me Instead, inspired by romantic relationships past and present.

Here, as his album storms US/UK album charts, Ben talks famous friends, boyfriend break ups and what Carver was like as a fictional love interest…

My biggest impression of you from this album is you’re intensely romantic. Is that accurate?

[Laughs] Sure. My anxiety demands a bit of realism, but I do consider myself quite romantic. I grew up with a beautiful representation of love in my parents’ marriage. They’ve been together for a long time and are a beautiful team. I have romanticism implanted in me.

If I was fortunate enough to get a date with you, where would you take me?

It depends on the person. Going to the theatre is my favorite activity. I could never end up with someone who wouldn’t enjoy that experience! It gives us something to discuss. Having someone to experience art with is one of the best things about being in a relationship. So theatre or a film and preferably, if we’re in New York, a stroll or park walk.

What inspired Older?

I started working when I was 9 and grew up quickly. I was always striving to be precocious. Because I didn’t have the traditional college experience – working right out of high school and living on my own – I reached a point where I looked back and wished I’d taken more time to be reckless and carefree.

It was frustrating that I’d spent different points in life wishing to be at another point,  looking forward or back. It appealed to do a song about being present, not wasting any time looking in either direction.

Having said that, where do you want to be in 20 years? 

I’m very open. I’d love to have a kid or two, and a fella. But I’m very much open.

Share Your Address – what inspired that?

I’m what my friends would call a Charlotte, if you’re a Sex and the City fan… If I meet someone, I jump all the way in and start planning our china patterns! That excitement, when you’re overzealous to the point of comedy and discomfort… But it’s also from a well-intentioned place of being excited about a new person!

What about Temporary Love?

Definitely, it’s aspirational, inspired by my parents’ relationship: the types of connections that are the long-lasting. I know myself, when I get into a relationship that I feel is progressing, that it’s something I want to commit to, there’s a very human fear that comes in. You assume the worst, that something’s going wrong. I wanted to sing it from the perspective of the other person. Reassuring their partner ‘I know you you can feel a different connection, and I feel that too.’

Were any lyrics an epiphany when you wrote them?

Yeah. I was driving home from Disneyland with one of the fellas a lot of the songs are about. We’d been having conversations about personal growth, needing to take time apart to figure out who we were. I think I knew there was a song in there. As we were driving, a phrase ‘Grow as We Go’ popped into my mind; this beautiful, succinct expression of that feeling. I was excited. The song formed from there.

How does fame affect your lyrics?

The experiences themselves [that inspired the lyrics] weren’t affected by notoriety, or fame, if you will. Romance, relationships, person-person connection, beyond the initial meeting – obviously, sometimes I’m happy to deal with the obstacle of people having an idea of me when we first meet – but once a relationship’s emotionally involved enough to write about, it’s transcended that.

Were there any lyrics you were in two minds about sharing?

You know, a bit. There’s a song called In case You Don’t Live Forever that I wrote with my pop in mind. I certainly would never second guess putting how much I love him and how much he means to me in a song. But I wanted to be sensitive to the fact that he is not – although thankfully healthy – a young man. Although he’s not going anywhere at the moment!

I did think once or twice about whether that was something I wanted to share. But the overall message of the song, how I thought people could connect, kind of overpowered that. And I had the opportunity to play it very privately to him beforehand.

What was it like having Charlie Carver play your love interest in the Ease My Mind video?

Horrible. Really difficult. A terrible day. Difficult to be around and a bad actor. Very unattractive! No, he’s the most wonderful guy. I’ve always been a fan. I went out on a limb and asked if he’d be game. Not only is he such a good actor, he’s a very vocal member of the queer community. He gave a beautiful performance, jumped in and made it feel authentic!

Sam Smith attended a performance of yours in WeHo. Are you friends?

He’s a wonderful friend, totally supportive. Not just the queer aspect of the music, and my openness with that – of course, he’s a huge inspiration in that respect. But also as a singer whose writing I respect – to have his support means the world.

Sing To Me Instead is out now

See also:

Broadway star Ben Platt comes out in poignant music video

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