Like many talented stars, Jonathan Bennett started his career on a soap (All My Children) and guest spots on shows like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Then came Mean Girls, with Jonathan's role as Aaron Samuels making him instantly recognizable in households worldwide.
I recently talked to the actor about his new film Submerged and got some great insight into the behind-the-scenes work of those claustrophobic moments.
Bethany Rose: Could you tell our readers a little about Submerged?
Jonathan Bennett:It's a crazy movie about being trapped in a limo under water. It's suspenseful, and thrilling, and it's definitely a movie that makes you hold your breath.
BR: Yes. I agree. In fact, one thing I like to tell myself is that I'm not claustrophobic, until I watch a film like Submerged and realize maybe I am! Did you ever get a feeling of claustrophobia either while on set or while watching the film?
JB: I got claustrophobic as much watching the scenes as I did when shooting them. It is so stressful and scary to be in that car and trapped, seat-belted in, and having the water fill up, and have that feeling of 'I could die right now.' So it's definitely, definitely scary.
BR:Speaking of that water. I know that these days so many things, water, blood, whatever, sometimes they are CGI, not real or practical effects. But were you literally in water for some of those scenes?
JB: It's all real. All real. It's literally water rushing into the limo. Completely real. BR: That had to be extremely uncomfortable.
JB:Oh my gosh. Extremely uncomfortable and really, really cold. You're miserable and cold for two weeks because you go every day and sit in this water.
BR: So what was the longest amount of time that you were submerged when filming?
JB: They make us get out every hour for ten minutes. Then we go into a hot room.
BR: Even though your acting was very good in the film, some of it was maybe a natural reaction to the environment?
JB:Exactly. If you're in a car under water and it's freezing, there's not much acting involved. It's 'Oh my god. I'm gonna die and this is cold.' It definitely added to the suspense and the sheer claustrophobic feeling that you get when you watch the film.
BR: Even though that did help, when you were not submerged those scenes were great too. Definitely suspenseful.
JB: I just think it's a really good, suspenseful, fun movie for your whole family to watch after Thanksgiving. It comes out on Friday [November 27th]. Your aunt will love it as much as your uncle and your little sisters. It's so fun. Everyone can identify with being trapped in a limo under water which is terrifying.
BR: I agree. I do think that feeling of entrapment is one a lot of us can identify with. The whole cast of the film is phenomenal. What was it like working with them all? It seemed like you all worked really well together.
JB: Yeah. You're trapped in this confined space, so when that happens it's scary, and it's freezing, so you're all huddling to stay warm. So you get really close really quickly.
BR: Absolutely! Were those the first scenes that were filmed?
JB:They were filmed last.
BR: The film has some intense moments, some bleak moments. When making a film of that nature, do you carry a lot of those feelings around when you're filming, or are you able to still have moments of levity on set?
JB:It's hard. It's tough because you're shooting it so out of order, and that is a big problem when doing this. It's really hard to remember what part of the film you're in right now. What just happened. What's going to happen.
BR:Well in some of those scenes, including when you were submerged, it seemed like you did some stunts or maybe had special training.
JB: Yeah. I did a lot of my own stunts. I definitely did, and it was a lot of hard work and a lot of fun. But, I didn't train too hard on the underwater stuff because I wanted to be scared. BR: That makes sense! Can you tell us about any current or upcoming projects you are involved with?
JB: Like 90. I have Cake Wars: Christmas which is airing right now on Food Network. And then I'm really excited about my new arc on Awkward. I go on there for 8 episodes and finish out the season playing Jenna's crazy boss. So it's a really fun time for me right now. I have an action movie coming out, hosting a show on Food Network, and then I have Awkward.
BR:And I'm glad I got to talk to you about Submerged because I knew you had a lot of roles before this one, but I was most familiar with a lot of your more comedic roles, or your turns as a romantic lead, and I love Cake Wars, so this was really exciting to get to see you in a more serious role and you did a really good job.
JB:Thank you so much. I'm really excited to share it with people and I think it will be fun for all the die-hard Mean Girls fans to see Aaron Samuels carrying a gun and being a grown-up bad ass. You know? I think it's gonna be fun for them. Aaron Samuels ain't a kid anymore.