Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Go On writer/creator/executive producer Scott Silveri and stars Tyler James Williams (who plays the role of Owen) and Laura Benanti (who plays group therapist Lauren) about the success of the show, some of the challenges related to their roles, and where the show might be headed now that Go On has been granted a full season. “Videogame, Set, Match” is long-anticipated by fans of the show, having been twice preempted, first by media coverage of Hurricane Sandy, and then again by coverage of the US Presidential Election.
Scott Silveri and Laura Benanti, discussing character, musical theater
Scott Silveri: Hello.
Nick Roman: This first question is for Laura. To what extent is Lauren like you and how does she differ from any other role you’ve played, whether on stage or in front of the camera?
Laura Bentani: I feel like I would like to say that I’m super different from Lauren. Like I’m really chill and laid back, but I would venture to say that is not true. I think I’m pretty similar to her actually. I try to give the appearance of – that I have it all together and that I know what I’m talking about, but at the end of the day, I think I might be full of crap.
Scott Silveri: You’re fooling me a couple months in!
Laura Bentani: But I think that she’s – I also think – I am one of those people where … people want to tell me their problems all the time, and I do feel like I have sort of a natural instinct for empathy and always have since I was a little kid, which is something that I use with her. Where I feel like she maybe sort of fell into this whole … healing arts situation but is, like, oddly good at it.
And then how does she differ from other characters I’ve played? I would say she’s more similar to me. You know, I tend to play either really dramatic characters or, I don’t know, people where it’s a little bit more of a stretch for me. … I actually think some of the hardest acting is the acting where … it’s closer to you, you know. Because then, you have to become more aware of yourself, which is … everyone’s journey, I suppose.
Scott Silveri: The bad news is she’s going to get more and more like you, because you happen to be really funny so it’s easier than writing.
Nick Roman: Well, thanks. That was actually going to be sort of my follow-up. Given that you come from an extensive background in musical theater [Benanti is a Tony Award-winning performer], I was wondering if there’d been discussions about possibly incorporating your natural talent into a future episode since the most recent episode had that subplot that was kind of like a love letter to the Hollywood musicals of the 1950’s.
Laura Bentani: Right.
Scott Silveri: Well, I can say we’re talking about it when we should talk to Laura about it … But certainly, [it is] something I’m game for, so…
Laura Bentani: Yes. No, I’m in. I’m in.
Scott Silveri: All right, great. Done. That’s the next episode – musical episode.
Laura Bentani: Let’s do that. Musical theater.
Nick Roman: Awesome. I’m totally there. Thanks for answering the questions and congratulations on the success of the show.
Laura Bentani: Yay!
Scott Silveri: Thank you. Thank you so much.
Laura Bentani: Thank you.
Tyler James Williams, on tonight’s new, Owen-centric episode, “Videogame, Set, Match”
Nick Roman: Hey, hi Tyler. I just wanted to add I love the show and it’s a blast covering it every week and watching the ensemble kind of grow together.
Tyler James Williams: Thank you.
Nick Roman: I was wondering if you could talk a bit about how much of yourself you bring to Owen. Particularly with regard to how your relationship with your own brothers might affect how you portray Owen’s relationship with his and with Ryan.
Tyler James Williams: There is, that’s very interesting because in this episode we find out a lot about Owen’s relationship with his brother. And find out about who they were and a lot of that I was able to pull with my relationship with my brothers. It’s very interesting when you have these brotherly relationships. It’s different than any other kind of relationship that’s out there.
So, with Owen it’s his big brother. Now I only have younger brothers but I could only imagine if something were to happen to them and they were already older than I was. So I’d have to fill that gap with something and I was kind of pulling from reality in a way.
And as far as the Ryan relationship goes. It’s a new type of big brother relationship and almost like a mentoring relationship. So I kind of look to those who, you know, have been that kind of a rock and a mentor in my life and pulled me out of interesting places and seen me – and made me realize new things about myself. … Matthew [Perry] does a great job of making that job easy.
Nick Roman: And the show tackles kind of a heavy subject matter for a comedy, given that it deals with how people navigate their grief. And I was wondering if it’s a difficult balance (for) the elements of grief and humor. Or does the seriousness of the emotions at the center kind of make the comedy come easier?
Tyler James Williams: Yeah, I think, well at least for me it makes it come easier. All comedy is, is a warped perception of bad things happening to other people. So with the fact that it’s so grounded that we’re not just, you know, kicking these jokes out here for characters to react to. That it’s grounded in something makes it that much easier for us to play it as real. You know, we can play this as a drama and that’s why it comes off well as a comedy. Because we’re all so emotionally invested into it that our reactions are real.
Nick Roman: Interesting. Thank you. Just wanted to add that one of the big things in my review on the site is … wondering when we’re going to get more Owen in the show. It’s kind of interesting that the next episode is going to deal directly with what he’s sort of dealing with. Because I feel like he’s probably got way more going on than we’ve been allowed to see yet. So I’m looking forward to it.
Tyler James Williams: Thank you, and I’m looking forward to everybody, you know, being able to see that. I’ve gotten quite a bit of questions about that as well. But, you know, we have to establish everybody in the group. We got a hint of it in the pilot and I think now is the time to kind of just reveal more of what is happening in his life.
The latest episode of Go On, “Videogame, Set, Match”, featuring guest star Chris Bosh (of the Miami Heat) airs tonight at 9:00 PM EST on NBC.