CANADA (Sasha Stoltz Publicity): Actor Cle Bennett is already receiving rave reviews for his multiple performances in Kim’s Convenience, which begins its run January 15 (and ends on February 2) on the Main Stage Series at London’s Grand Theatre (471 Richmond Street) in Ontario.
Set in a Regent Park Convenience store, Ins Choi’s play follows the story of a flawed but loving family learning to let go of the past and forgive in the hopes of a better future. However, the patriarch Appa, the “self-appointed gatekeeper”, worries about his family’s legacy, and sets out to bring sage advice among them and those who comes into his store – whether they want it or not.
GG: How did this play come about for you?
Cle Bennett: The script was sent to my agent for me to take a look. I knew I was going to do it from before I was finished reading the first page – it’s that good.
GG: Describe the characters you play and the differences between them and yourself
CB: The first character is a chill young man named Rich, who simply comes to the store for a scratch & win card, and a pack of cigarettes, but leaves with much more. He’s different from me, in that you’d never catch me buying a scratch & win card, and a pack of cigarettes.
The second is a slick real estate developer named Mr. Lee, who’s come to make an offer Mr. Kim can’t refuse – or so he thinks. We’re different, because when I come to think of it, I’m not sure I even own a suit – I’m more a cool pants, even cooler jacket, kind of guy.
The third character is a Jamaican named Mike, in search of a tub of Vaseline, who’s a tad confrontational. I definitely speak a lot more clearly than he does. (Laughs)
The final character is a charming cop named Alex, who returns to the hood on a call, and ends up falling in love. I’d like to think that I’m a bit smoother than he is, when communicating with women.
GG: How did you prepare for the roles in Kim’s Convenience?
CB: I approached each role as though it were the only character I was playing in the play. I defined unique characterizations for each of the roles – the way they walked, talked, mannerisms etc., and made it a goal of mine to make the audience forget that each role is being played by the same guy.
GG: The first two seasons of Lost Girl is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray, and currently airs on SyFy. You played the Ash, the head of the Light Fae, in season one, so any chance of you coming back for the new season?
CB: Sorry. I’m afraid that’s not gonna happen.
GG: Who are some of your role models in the acting community?
CB: I’m not sure I have any role models, myself. But as I realize I’m being watched by many, I’m conscious of conducting myself in a manner that can be modeled after.
GG: Who would you like to work with that you have not worked with yet?
CB: There are a lot of people, I’d like to work with, but if I had to name one, I’d probably say Spike Lee.
GG: What is your dream role?
CB: Can’t say I have a dream role, but I’d like to play real people, with incredible stories. The kind of roles that make people wanna learn more about that person after the credits roll. For example, after I watched Denzel Washington play Malcolm X, I was obsessed with learning everything about Malcolm, and in extension, everything about Black History that I could. So, in essence, that performance inspired me to learn more about myself.
GG: What advice do you have for up & coming actors?
CB: Be certain that acting is your passion.
GG: What was it like wining 2 Geminis?
CB: Loved it! It’s always encouraging when you work hard on something, and people take notice.
GG: What do you do on your down time when you are not on set?
CB: I hit the gym. I read. Study films. Pretty much everything I do, has something to do with my craft, but I love what I do, so it’s all good.
GG: What’s next for you after Kim’s Convenience?
CB: I figured out awhile back that I’m most productive when I focus on one thing at a time, so right now I’m all about making sure I kill it on the stage, every night. Shoot – I can’t even afford not to be focused, I’m playing four characters, man! (Laughs)