Ben Platt Hopes ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Will Make Those Mentally Struggling Feel Less Alone
Pitch Perfect’s Ben Platt hopes that his upcoming film adaption of Dear Evan Hansen will make people mentally struggling feel ‘much less alone’.
Platt has been part of the Dear Evan Hansen family from day one following its musical world premiere in 2015.
The stage play has since been described as one of the best to have hit Broadway since Hamilton, and has gone on to achieve several Tony awards, one of which went to Platt for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical.
The role that Platt has so perfectly mastered is that of Evan Hansen himself; an awkward, anxious high school student, desperate to overcome his demons and be noticed. With his familiarity of the role in mind, it only made sense for the The Politician actor to portray him in the movie adaption.
Joining Platt in the cast is Julianne Moore, Amy Adams, Amandala Stenberg, and Mayans M.C.’s Danny Pino.
Watch the trailer here:
Platt has received some heat for being cast for the role, however, as his father, Marc Platt, produced the film. Others have also criticised the 27-year-old for playing a teenager. However, Platt explained to UNILAD what he did to prepare for the role of Evan – both for the theatre and in the film – which, in my opinion, proves he deserved to be cast as the character.
I spent a lot of time preparing physically in terms of getting a little bit smaller and losing some weight, growing out my hair, shaving my hair, and things like that. Because I did get to do a lot of workshops, I did get to find a sort-of physicality over time, and start to feel how Evan hunches and how he likes to take up as little space as possible, and how uncomfortable he is in his own skin.
He’s fidgety because of his anxiety: he pulls on his clothing, he bites his nails, he’s never quite comfortable or still, and I think that’s a really powerful way to communicate with someone who just doesn’t quite feel a peace with who they are.
Platt went on to describe it as a ‘treat’ to grow more comfortable in the role of Evan, and by the time the movie was being made, Evan’s physical manifestations were ‘second nature’ to him.
Regarding Evan’s age, some of Platt’s biggest movies involve him playing a character much younger than himself, but he says he enjoys playing characters ‘of all ages’.
When asked what his favourite age group to play is, the Bad Habit singer said, ‘I think it really depends on the character. Evan is such an incredible showcase in terms of the vocal ability that is necessary, the emotional life, the specificity of his quirks and ticks, and the journey that he gets to go on.’
He went on to describe his Pitch Perfect character Benji as ‘a blast to play’, but as he nears closer to 30, he looks forward to playing more adult characters. Platt continued, ‘I think now, as I get old and approach 30, I’m excited to play some adults and people that are closer to my age, of course. But truly, any character that I feel that I can relate to, I’m happy to play.’
The plot to Dear Evan Hansen is extremely mental health-focused, and shows not only Evan’s experiences with it, but other students too – something that demonstrates that anyone and everyone can be affected by poor mental health, not just the quirky, socially-awkward teenagers of the world.
With this in mind, Platt hopes that the movie will highlight the importance of tackling mental health issues.
He said to UNILAD, ‘It’s not about what people show on the surface or what they represent, I think we always have to hold space to dive a little deeper and understand that we can’t fully know what someone’s going through until we know them, and you can’t gage from photos, social media or quick meetings what someone is really going through. We really need to take the time to get to know somebody and hopefully the film makes people feel seen and heard in that way.’
I think, hopefully, the film will make people feel much less alone in terms of their mental health struggles. I think it does a very good job at showing that nobody is free from some sort of struggle in terms of mental or physical wellbeing – whether it’s somebody who is very obviously struggling like Evan, who is awkward, has difficulty connecting and has a strangeness about him, or someone like Alana, who is very outgoing, bright and overachieving and is also struggling. There’s also Zoe who’s very cool and laid back.
According to mental health charity Mind, one in four people in England will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year, while as of 2017, 727 million people across the globe had experienced some kind of mental health disorder, Our World In Data reports.
As so many people are affected by mental health, Platt believes the movie will resonate with a lot of people who aren’t usually into musicals, as Dear Evan Hansen ‘stays very human, naturalistic and realistic’.
Discussing how a lot of people perceive musicals as being the type of film where actors randomly break into song, Platt explained, ‘What’s so special about this piece is that the songs are really just an extension of the scenes and they just continue the action and the emotional story. The texture remains very small, and very real. It’s a great gateway for people who don’t always gravitate towards musicals, and I think this is a very specific and special case.’
Meanwhile, addressing the fellow Evan Hansens of the world, Platt doubled down on the fact that they’re not alone in their struggles.
‘To the Evans of the world, I would say that there are so many people like you,’ he told UNILAD. ‘There are so many people who aren’t privileged enough to be around like-minded people in their communities or their homes, and just know that they are out there.’
‘There are so many people who want to get to know you for exactly who you are, and love you for who you are – and I’m one of them.’
Dear Evan Hansen hits UK cinemas October 22.
If you’re experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They’re open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58 and they also have a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone
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