Hollywood actor Tony Hale is tapping into superpowers that don’t involve lifting up cars or flying through the air for his new TV series ‘The Mysterious Benedict Society’, out now in the UAE.
The adventure series based on a book written by Trenton Lee Stewart is about four gifted orphans who are recruited by an eccentric benefactor to go on a secret mission. In it, Hale plays two very different twin brothers — Mr Benedict and Mr Curtain.
The actor, who made his mark playing the hilariously awkward Buster in the comedy ‘Arrested Development’, told Gulf News in a Zoom interview that the Young Adult series will encourage people of all ages to find strength in their compassion, intelligence and inner voice.
Could you tell me a bit about ‘The Mysterious Benedict Society’ and the role that you play?
So when the series begins something called ‘The Emergency’ is happening and it’s kind of sending everybody into this panic and anxiety, but no one can really kind of put their finger on where it’s coming from. I play a character named Mr Benedict who gathers these four kids together to find the source. And I think, what I love the most about the show or one of the things I like the most is these kids don’t have magical powers but their superpower is their intellect, their creativity and their empathy. And that is what they use for the entire series and it’s just a really fun adventure.
In the show you play twins. What was that like?
You know, daunting at first ... I think the key to doing characters like that is you have to find yourself in those characters. Because if you don’t then you’re just going to be kind of playing an idea of the characters — like good guy vs villain, rather than trying to find the humanity. So it was definitely a challenge. Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi wrote the scripts and they just did a fantastic job of kind of colouring these characters and so I had a lot to work with.
The two characters have different personalities, but it’s not black or white. How did you get into the shoes of each character?
Mr Benedict is kind of the affable compassionate character with the kids and then his brother [Mr Curtain] could be deemed the evil twin, but I came in seeing him as just feeling very misunderstood and he had had trauma in his life and it kind of caused him to be this way. Because when I do that, it gives me a little more compassion for the character rather than making them out to be evil cardboard cut-out character types.
This is probably one of your first times doing this kind of show for young people. What were your expectations going in and how did you feel working on such a project?
When the show was brought to my attention I was very excited about the idea of playing twins. That’s a challenge I really loved. I read the book, I was excited, and then the pandemic hit. It kind of opened my purpose for doing it because the show talks about how what could be called superpowers, like empathy and intellect and your uniqueness, rise above the noise and negative messaging we get all the time.
I feel like after the year we’ve had where there’s been so much noise, when you’ve heard voices of truth — because this show is all about trying to find the truth — they fully resonate with us. So I felt like my purpose for doing it got bigger than just the challenge of playing two characters.
What do you hope audiences, whether they’re kids or adults, take away from the show?
I think a couple of things. I mean it’s a really fun escape. It’s full of adventure, full of surprises, it’s funny. So I’m excited just to give people that escape for the whole family to watch together. I love Marvel movies ... but I also know that I can’t have you cobwebs coming out of my hands and I don’t have supernatural strength ... but I want [kids] to see this [show] and know that they do have the superpower of empathy, of trying to find truth, and their intellect and their creativity. These are powers that can bring change in the world.
Don’t miss it!
‘The Mysterious Benedict Society’ airs on OSN.