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Dana Fox And Nat Faxon Talk FOX’s New Comedy ‘Ben and Kate’

By on September 25, 2012
Nat Faxon & Creator/Executive Producer Dana Fox on set. Image © FOX

Nat Faxon & Creator/Executive Producer Dana Fox on set. Image © FOX

Ben and Kate premieres tonight, Tuesday September 25th on FOX. Starring Nat Faxon (Ben) and Dakota Johnson (Kate), this quirky and endearing single-camera ensemble comedy centers on an odd-couple brother and sister who find their way back into one another’s lives just when they need each other most.

This week Screen Spy and assembled Press spoke to show creator and executive producer Dana Fox – who based the siblings on her own experiences with real life brother – and Nat Faxon, who stars as Ben.

Speaking on the subject of how much Ben and Kate’s onscreen chemistry mirrors that of her own relationship with her brother, show creator Dana Fox commented that the similarities were very strong.

“Definitely, the relationship between Ben and Kate is for sure based on me and my brother,” admitted Fox. ” We are in each other’s lives constantly. It is just one of those relationships where you can pick up the phone and you start in the middle of a conversation and you yell at each other and stop in the middle of a conversation.

“It’s kind of been like that for a long time, so I would say it’s very closely based on our relationship.  We’re people who drive each other completely crazy, but we love each other and we support each other, and that was one of the reasons I was really excited to do this show, because there is a certain kind of wish fulfillment in that –  that you would have a relationship with someone where you can say exactly what you’re thinking all the time and then you can get in fights, but you’re always going to stay close.”

Ben (Nat Faxon, R) gives his sister Kate (Dakota Johnson, L) a ‘noogie’ while meeting with Maddie’s principal in the ‘Bad Cop/Bad Cop’ episode of BEN AND KATE airing Tuesday, Oct. 2 (8:30-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. Co. Cr: Jennifer Clasen/FOX

“I wanted to do this show for a few reasons,” said Faxon, speaking about what it was that drew him to the project in the first place. “The first being the writing and the vision of the show. And I loved the relationship between Ben and Kate.  Oftentimes you read things and it’s like a married couple and there’s a lot of banter that goes back and forth, and a lot of fighting and stuff, and you wonder why are these people together?  I loved that in this show that these people can have arguments and fights and support each other and in the end, it’s family.  You’ll always be there for one another.

“I love Ben’s energy and his spontaneity and his willingness to really go in any direction that he is feeling at the time.  He’s never, I don’t think, one to over think anything.  He just instinct, you know, trusts in instincts and you feel like you’re sort of on a ride with this character, and you never worry about the results so much.  It’s just sort of like you follow him down whatever path he’s going to go down.  I sort of love that quality in people –  that you can just kind of trust that you’ll have an incredible experience regardless of what happens.”

Executive Producer Dana Fox speaks with members of the press after a screening of the two new comedies BEN AND KATE and THE MINDY PROJECT on June 25, 2012 in Los Angeles,

Although Fox is clear that her upbringing was a pleasant one, she adds that it was necessary for Ben and Kate to suffer a harder childhood in order to illustrate how and why they came to be such polar opposites in many respects.

“In this show, Ben and Kate’s parents just kind of suck, and they aren’t really around as much, and when they are around, they’re fighting and yelling,” explains Fox. ” That was really important to me because I wanted to make sure it seemed like Ben and Kate were really on this island together and they really only have each other, and there’s no one else to come to the rescue.  Kate’s response to having bad parents was that she tried to make everything perfect and tried to [reason]  ‘If I can just hold back the water here, like maybe I can make everything okay.  Maybe I can make them not get a divorce, and maybe I can make them not fight.

“Ben’s response to it was just to be like, screw it.  It’s all screwed up anyway, we might as well just have fun here.  So, that’s kind of what I think took their characters on very different paths in life.  I think there’s also a thing where when you’re in a family, if one of your siblings is filling up all of the real estate of something, like if Kate’s brother was this larger-than-life figure who was always doing crazy things and was constantly getting them in trouble, I think she kind of felt like, well, he takes up that real estate, now I have to be the one that makes sure everything works out okay and make sure everybody’s safe.

“I think that’s why they developed into such different people.  But, I think what’s interesting about this show, and I really give credit to Kevin Reilly at Fox for pushing us in this direction, which is, like, we didn’t, you know, people grow up that way, but really, you don’t end up so polarized like that.  Like actually, there’s sort of, in every perfectionist, there is a mess.  There is a hot mess inside of every perfectionist, and so, what we were sort of interested in was having these characters both be kind of a mess.  And it isn’t the classic sort of stereotypes of, you know, Ben’s a disaster and he comes into her life and he’s a terrible tornado and messes everything up, and Kate is so perfect and keeps everything so organized and Ben is always screwing up her life.  Really, it’s like she is kind of a hot mess as well, and she needs him just as much as he needs her.

“So, that’s where I think this characterization has become more subtle and it becomes more interesting because you’re not watching these sort of stereotypes or these sort of polarized things that feel kind of fake.  They’re actually really real people.  Everybody has problems.  Everybody has stuff that they’re good at and bad at, and Ben is a mess, but he’s also weirdly together and he’s very smart, and he has really good ideas.  Most of the time, his weird, crazy schemes actually lead to something better happening than would have happened if he hadn’t done it.  So, there is a method to his madness.

“Sometimes if Kate is left to her own devices, if she did it her own way, which she thinks is going to be the better way or the more perfect way or the way that keeps everything organized, you know, it would actually end up being worse than if Ben did it.  So, that’s kind of the thing that’s been fun for us both to play with, is yes, they’re very different, but it’s kind of interesting how they have kind of come together a little bit in their hot messiness.”

Catch Ben and Kate tonight 8:30-9:00 PM ET/PT on FOX.