PROFILE Ben Mingay
Theatre actor Ben Mingay feels most at home on the stage but ZOE NAUMAN discovers he was warmly welcomed by Australia’s most popular TV family.
PACKED TO THE RAFTERS
Tuesday, 9pm Seven
BEN Mingay, the latest addition to the Packed To The Rafters crew has revealed he was able to draw on the benefit of personal experience when it came to his character’s teen love affair with a school teacher.
The seasoned theatre actor, who is starring as Fergus ‘Buzz’ Graham in the Seven drama, says he knew of a few fellow pupils who indulged in an illicit liaison or two.
‘‘I know of some dodgy goings on,’’ he says, in reference to his character’s backstory of having a 16-year-old son who is the result of an affair with a teacher when he was at school.
‘‘I could relate to a lot of this character. I can’t reveal who it was but I do know someone. I know of situations. I’m still friends with them now. This wasn’t really young people – they were around 17 and 18 years old. There is always a story, especially when you have been to as many schools as I have.’’
Mingay, 33, from Newcastle, also used his experience of becoming an uncle when he was nine years old to add to the dynamic of being close in age to his Rafters son.
‘‘I read some of the script and I could immediately relate to it. My oldest sister had a couple of kids by the time she was 20 years old.
‘‘I was growing up with my nephew Dave. It was exactly the same sort of relationship – we were like mates, me wanting to be a bit of an authority figure. We would have a beer together and the next thing, I was having to be in charge.
‘‘This really helped me with the whole Jackson/ Buzz thing that was going on in the show.’’
Mingay, who, up until Rafters, has had a long career treading the boards, has starred in An Officer And A Gentleman, Jersey Boys, and Dirty Dancing, which took him all over the world, and the musical Hair.
He says he feels the stars aligned for him to get the part.
‘‘Michael Caton, a mutual friend, came and saw Jersey Boys and we had a drink afterwards. ‘‘Then at the closing night of an
Officer And A Gentleman, the casting director from Rafters was actually in the house. We had a drink and a little bit of a chat and she said: ‘You are the type of guy we are looking for.’
‘‘It helped Michael Caton had vouched for me, as it were. He’s a good Aussie bloke and that all worked in my favour, and I went along and did the audition and got the gig.
‘‘It was a good direction for me to go in. It felt like a bit of fate.
‘‘ Officer And A Gentleman was supposed to be open for a year. The fact it closed early allowed me to do this."
Mingay loves the new turn his career has taken.
‘‘I was really excited. Mostly because a lot of my family and friends watched the show and I had always been a fan of Rebecca (Gibney) and Erik (Thomson). Of course, I was a bit nervous about going into an established cast – a family cast.
‘‘When I joined I was like ‘where do I pitch myself in this?’ You have to be careful coming into a situation where they are old hands at it.
‘‘So I just tried to keep a low profile and slip in there and try and quietly achieve what I have to do. I think my introduction into the television cast was a blessing. Everyone had so much advice and made me feel me welcome.’’