Trying to “make it as an actor” in the sunny, yet throat-cutting city of Los Angeles might be a recycled cliché that often ends in deception, but we are far from worried for Ben Giroux. Whether he is acting, writing, directing, or producing, the Arizona native embodies the two most important skills needed to succeed in the entertainment industry: talent and guts. Even though his height has resulted in landing acting parts as a leprechaun or as an elf, the immensely talented and humble self-made actor has managed to book guest roles on some of TV’s most popular shows (House, Bones, Psych…) and is on the BR!NK of launching his own television series.
Are the stereotypes about actors in Los Angeles true? Is the industry that tough to break into?
I would say that if you go into the entertainment industry thinking that it is cut-throat and competitive, it’s a million times worse than that. It’s more difficult than any other industry on the planet, and it’s 99% rejection. If there is anything else that you can envision yourself doing and being happy, you should absolutely do it. The only people who should be actors are those who can’t do anything else. It’s in their blood. In my case, it’s not a choice, it’s just who I am.
And while you have played a variety of roles, I heard that your height often defined the parts you were getting. Is that right?
I realized that the industry wants to peg you in one specific niche. And with me it’s short guy stuff, since I’m 5’2″. Anytime I go for auditions, it’s for an elf, a leprechaun or a jockey [laughs]. I love those roles, they have been my bread and butter. However, its difficult to break out of a role the industry puts you in, especially at the beginning of your career.
Can you tell us about the initial stages of your professional acting career?
I was cast as the lead role in the University of Southern California’s spring musical during my last semester there. Simultaneously, I had my biggest audition to date for a new Fox pilot by the Farrelly brothers – they’re the guys who did Something About Mary and Dumb and Dumber. A week before we opened the show, I found out that I had booked the Farrelly brothers show and that I’m supposed to be in Boston on opening weekend of my show in Los Angeles. I was faced with this unbelievably difficult dilemma: do I let down my school, director, and cast mates and take off a couple of shows… or do I turn down this incredible opportunity a month away from graduating college? It was the most difficult decision of my life, but ultimately, I did have to say that I needed to start my professional career. The school gave me an F, but that’s the grade I’m the proudest of!
What doors did the pilot open for you as an actor?
The Farrelly brothers recommended me for the show Psych, which I shot for a couple of weeks. I have been very lucky to always be cast as a guest star rather than starting out as an extra. That’s all I do and hopefully it’ll move on to recurring roles.
I’m guessing that you still audition for all of these roles, though. How do you usually prepare and how do you stand out from the other actors?
I go to all of my auditions in costume. Not necessarily in an absurd costume, but enough so that the casting person does not have to imagine me in the role. All the parts I’ve gotten in the past, I had already spent $100 on each of them; it’s an investment for my career. For Bones, I walked in there with a ridiculous police officer outfit, but I stood out. Anything you can do as an actor to prove that you’re the best one, that’s what you have to do. You have got to think, “This is my part, and I’m going to prove to them that it is!” You need to command the room.
What are some of your new acting projects?
I did a Disney sitcom coming out this fall called Pair of Kings, in which I played an absurd monkey creature. It was a two and a half hour intense makeup process. There definitely was a point where I had ten pounds of fur on me, crazy fake teeth, a snout, hundreds of screaming teenagers around, and I was holding a live chicken. At that moment, I thought to myself, “I’ve made it, Ma!” [laughs]
And if that weren’t enough, you are also launching your own show, which you wrote, produced, and star in, right?
Ben and Burman, about a modern-day odd couple. I play the anal-retentive guy trying to meet the perfect girl, and [co-star Scott] Burman is my crazy roommate who ruins my life. Hilarity ensues. We teamed up with the executive producer of Saving Grace, Gary Randall, and are releasing it online this fall.
How can our readers contribute to your success?
I am starting to produce a new project called Awkward Universe, in which a bunch of us are filming a large collection of incredibly awkward moments people have on a daily basis. We are casting it and getting a production team together. If you’re in Los Angeles and want to get involved, contact me. If you’d like to keep up with me, you can friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter (@bengiroux).
Any last piece of advice for aspiring young actors/actresses?
You have to be incredibly pro-active in getting what you want. Success will not come to you: you have to go out and take life by the balls.