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Published: Monday, January 5, 2009, 12:01 a.m.

Local actor credits his recent role to preparation and luck

  • Paul Benz plays the role of a deputy in an upcoming episode of "Criminal Minds."

    Paul Benz plays the role of a deputy in an upcoming episode of "Criminal Minds."

By Theresa Goffredo
Herald writer
Paul Benz doesn't harbor any illusions that a speaking part on one television show is going to rocket him to stardom. Still, to score a talking role on a prime-time police show is a step in the right direction -- getting good gigs.
Benz, 26, will play a deputy in a CBS episode of "Criminal Minds" slated to air Jan. 21. Benz, whose parents are Rev. Paul B. Benz and Linda Olsen of Everett, spoke from Los Angeles about the realities of 15 minutes, or less, of fame.
Q: You lived in Kentucky but moved to Whidbey Island when you were 10. Did you do perform with Martha Murphy's Whidbey Children's Theater?
A: "Oh tons, oh gosh. Those are the roots. In fifth grade, I was all energetic and wily and I tried out for "The Shoemaker and The Elves" and I got the Shoemaker. I loved it, being up in front of an audience was euphoric, it's like electric."
Q: You trained with Seattle Children's Theatre and went on to California Lutheran University. Why CLU?
A: "I didn't want to be in a room with 400 other students learning from a TA. It didn't take me long at CLU to learn that I wasn't going to get the conservatory training that I got at Seattle. But what I was getting was a whole lot of stage time in really quality productions."
Q: How did you land the "Criminal Minds" role?
A: "(I read) in front of Tim Matheson ("Animal House") and he was really complimentary. Then 15 minutes later, I got the call. It doesn't usually work like that. People are not always kind and patient and encouraging. So we'll see how much of that they'll keep, and we'll see if I'm cringing or nodding with satisfaction."
Q: Tell us about the role?
A: "I briefly talk to (the FBI) about the ins and outs of the crime and that's pretty much it. I do the Southern accent and I felt good about it. My first day on the set, Joe Mantegna (who plays Agent David Rossi) asked me, 'So are you from the South?'"
Q: How do you think you won the part?
A: "My coach taught me that failing to prepare is preparing to fail, so preparing is number one. Two is making an effort to memorize. And I went in doing a Southern accent. Those three things and luck, and really that's a lot of it."
Q: Any expectations?
A: "What this amounts to is a great experience, a great little paycheck. I'm still a part-time faculty member at CLU building the sets. And I still work at Trader Joe's. I stay there because of the stability that comes with Trader Joe's. I like to go to the dentist and Trader Joe's comes with benefits."
Q: Future plans?
A: "I set my Jan. 10 date for an audition for the graduate school at New York University. The odds are great. They accept nine men out of thousands. But I feel there's NYU and there's Yale and then there's everything else."
Theresa Goffredo 425-339-3424 goffredo@heraldnet.com
Story tags » TelevisionEntertainment (general)

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