He played ‘anxious weirdo nerds’ in Pitch Perfect and Dear Evan Hansen, but on his soul-baring new album Ben Platt has a new role … himself
‘I really like playing people who aren’t easily likable,” says Ben Platt. Bearded and dressed in lumberjack chic – plaid shirt, fleece-lined denim jacket – he appears unflustered, a departure from his perma-agitated characters: Benji in the Pitch Perfect movies, Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon and Evan in Dear Evan Hansen, both on Broadway. A trinity of, in his words, “socially anxious weirdo nerds”.
A professional actor since he was eight and, at 25, almost an EGOT – winner of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards – (he hasn’t yet won an Oscar), you hope that Platt will find his latest role more likable: he’s playing himself. Platt recently released Sing to Me Instead, his first studio album and a chance to put himself out there. Atlantic Records had approached him while he was making the Dear Evan Hansen original cast recording and asked him if he wanted to do a pop record. He did, and after months of messing around at the piano and finding a few sympathetic co-writers, he delivered 45 minutes of tear-jerking original ballads. The “instead” part of the title is about wishing a lover could sing his feelings rather than talking them out and also a rejection of what he calls “Auto-Tune and computers and hooks and trap beats, just, like, sing a song instead”.