Ben Platt may be only 23, but his stunning performance in Dear Evan Hansen has earned him praise as one of the most highly-regarded actors on the Broadway stage this year.
Although he’s only recently become a household name, Platt has been gracing the stage since he was just a kid. When he was 9, he played Winthrop Paroo in The Music Man at Hollywood Bowl, along with Kristin Chenoweth, and tonight, he took home the award for Best Actor in a Musical at the 2017 Tonys.
Read on to learn more about Ben Platt.
1. He Won the Tony for Best Lead Actor in a Musical for His Work in ‘Dear Evan Hansen’
This year, Platt won the Tony for Best Lead Actor in a Musical for his work in Dear Evan Hansen. He’s played the show’s title character since it first opened at Arena Stage in Washington in 2015.
Dear Evan Hansen follows a socially awkward 17-year-old high school who becomes unwittingly involved in a fellow student’s suicide. Platt’s performance has earned rave reviews from critics– he was hailed as “remarkable” by the New York Times, and “the beating heart of the show” by the Hollywood Reporter.
Those who have worked with Platt directly have also described him as a rare breed with unmatchable talent. Dear Evan Hansen director Michael Greif tells The New York Times that Platt’s work ethic constantly impresses him. “You feel you’re in the presence of someone who conserves himself all day so that he can be most alive on the stage.”
2. He Played Benji in ‘Pitch Perfect’
Fans may recognize Platt from his work as Benji in Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2.
In 2015, Platt spoke with Vegas Magazine about how he came to play Benji.
I was with my voice teacher [Eric Vetro] in LA and in the middle of the lesson he said, “Are you going in for that college a cappella thing?” And I was like, “Oh, I hadn’t heard of that, what is it?” And he said, “My clients around your age seem to be going in for this movie…You should look into it.” So I called my agents at the time…and they said, “Oh well there’s not really a role that immediately fits you,” and I was like, “Let me just read the script and maybe I’ll find something that I want to go in for.”
Platt then read the script and fell immediately in love with the character of Benji. He says it was written one-dimensionally, but he threw his own spin on it, and the director and producers loved it. Within a couple of days, he’d learned he booked the role.
Movie-goers may also recognize him from Ricki and the Flash and Billy Flynn’s Long Halftime Walk.
3. His Father Was a Producer on ‘La La Land’
Platt’s father, Marc, is a producer of film and television (he recently produced La La Land), and Platt has acknowledged that his father has played a big role in his career.
In an interview with the New York Times, the young actor said, “It would be totally disingenuous if I didn’t acknowledge that being my father’s son has helped me. But it’s also made me aware of how lucky I am, and how hard I have to work to prove I deserve these opportunities I’ve been given.”
Steven Levenson, who wrote and created Dear Evan Hansen, explains that Platt does not play the family card. “He doesn’t wear that at all,” he tells the New York Times. “You’d have no idea that he comes from L.A. and that community.”
4. He Was Accepted to Columbia University
Platt was accepted to Columbia University, and moved to New York in the fall of 2012. He’d only been studying at Columbia for six weeks when he was cast in the Chicago company’s Mormon, and chose to temporarily leave college.
Platt was born and raised in LA and attended Harvard-Westlake, from which he graduated in 2011. According to Pop Sugar, he initially auditioned for Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (the co-creators of Dear Evan Hanson) when he was 17, for a part in the show Dogfight. The outlet reports that the two creators were impressed by Platt, but he was too young at the time to be cast. After the audition for Dogfight, Benj reached out to Hansen, saying they were starting to develop a new show and would be in touch. That show was, of course, Dear Evan Hansen.
5. He’s Been Nominated for a Number of Awards for His Acting
Platt has been nominated for a number of awards for his acting. Just last month, it was revealed that he’d won the organization’s Distinguished Performance Award at the 83rd annual Drama Desk Awards, making him the youngest ever-winner.
Before that, the 23-year-old won an Obie Award and Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical.