Benjamin Walker

Broadway sensation, Presidential-butt impressionist.



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According to the posters for Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, this musical is about the seventh President's butt. Are you going for complete historical accuracy when it comes to rear ends?

According to the posters for Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, this musical is about the seventh President's butt. Are you going for complete historical accuracy when it comes to rear ends?
[Laughs] To asses? Right. How we are dealing with historical accuracy—we're definitely playing fast and loose with it, but it's in a healthy way. If we were to adhere to the specifics of Jackson's life, we would have a ten-hour play. We have to put a lot of turning points in his life into 90 minutes.

But you'd be surprised [at what's true]. The self-cutting, for example? Jackson really did that. His twisted relationship with his wife—that's real. It kind of lends itself very easily to be very emo. It's not a stretch.

With all his populism, do you think Andrew Jackson would be a Tea Partyer if he were alive today?
Oh yeah. Well, I don't know if he would be a member of the Tea Party movement, but he would have some form of political fervor around him. I'm sure Andrew Jackson would be on Twitter.

Duking it out with Sarah Palin on Facebook?
Oh, sure, blogging! He would embrace the viral campaign wholeheartedly.

He'd have a MySpace page where the Cure was playing in the background.
Absolutely. Dripping with blood at all times.

That fake blood in the show—is it tasty?
No, it's disgusting; are you kidding? Especially Maria [Elena Ramirez], she gets a heavy douse; she's really taking one for the team.

Do you have to get new shirts for every performance? You get kind of covered in the blood.
Oh yeah. Luckily it washes out. We actually have to change clothes during the show so we don't ruin the rest of the clothes with all the blood. We get bloody, and then the next thing is we change into a shirt that's been painted bloody.

I'm just trying to imagine the laundry that comes out of it. It's like a crime scene or something.
It's pretty wild. My poor dresser, Chip, just gets blood all over him. On his face! And he didn't do anything.

How long does it take to get those "tight, tight pants" off at the end of the night?
Well, it takes a shoehorn, that's for sure. I have to kind of peel them off.

Longer or shorter than the 90-minute length of the show?
Almost as long, strangely enough.

What does your mother think of the fact that you're onstage saying words like popular jism every night?
I think—I hope—she's proud of me, for telling a poignant story on an American stage. But if she weren't a little taken aback, I'd be worried.

What does your future mother-in-law [Meryl Streep] think? Has she seen the show?
Ah, she has seen it. She's been nothing but supportive.

So it's a little raunchy, but still okay for mothers?
Absolutely. That's one great thing about the show. Last night we had a much older audience, and they picked up on a lot of the political nuance in a way that we hadn't had yet.... A lot of the humor comes from a place of being politically incorrect and being irreverent. I think sometimes feelings can get hurt in that way, but the show is from an adolescent place. If you imagine Jackson as a young man, that's when people are telling dirty jokes and offensive jokes. They're not conscious of being socially aware.

Was he an adolescent for his whole life?
I think he was. I think there was a point where he had to decide who he was going to be, and he just kind of stopped at that point. And that was who he was for the rest of his life, and that was pretty early in his childhood.

Did they teach you how to jump around with a mike stand and swagger at Juilliard?
That's right. Hump the air. [Laughs] That's the first year at Juilliard. Um, well, I had wonderful teachers there, and that school is largely focused on taking care of your body. If I had not had that education, I'm certain I wouldn't have been able to last a week doing this show.

You were originally going to take part in the next X-Men movie but then decided not to, to do this show. Does that mean you're more of a musical-theater nerd than a comic-book nerd?
Well, that deal sort of soured away. Leaving the show was something I was going to regret. I wanted to take part. I've been with the show so long...I would be really disappointed if it were to transfer to Broadway and I couldn't be a part of it. So I just kinda had to come on home.

Walker stars in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, opening Wednesday 13.

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