Ben Platt Says Dear Evan Hansen Movie 'Probably' Wouldn't Have Been Made Without Him
Ben Platt is opening up about the making of the Dear Evan Hansen film, explaining that the film adaptation of the 2016 Tony-winning Broadway show "probably" wouldn't have made its way to the big screen had it not been for his involvement.
The 27-year-old actor — who originated the title role of Evan Hansen on Broadway to much critical acclaim (and a Tony award himself) — opened up about the project during an appearance on the Zach Sang Show back in June.
In the chat, Platt responded to critics who questioned whether he was too old to play a high schooler after the release of the film's first trailer.
"People like to have something to say that's negative, regardless of what it is. With [this], it's something that I can't control at all, which is my age, then bring it on," he said. "I'm glad it's not about my performance or my voice or anything that actually matters."
Platt went on to explain more about the film, pointing out the movie — which is produced by his father, Marc Platt, as well as Adam Siegel — would likely not have been made had he not been involved.
"The reaction is largely from people that don't understand the context of the piece," Ben said. "The fact that I created the role and workshopped it for 3 years, and did all of the out-of-town performances, and originated it on Broadway, and received the accolades that I did... and also not really understanding that were I not to do the movie, it probably wouldn't get made."
He added that, while he'd like to continuously defend himself online, he would rather just let people watch the film themselves.
"My defensive response is to go on Twitter and be like, "Eff you guys, you don't even know that this wouldn't exist without me,' " Ben said. "And of course, that's not true entirely and that's not my place to say."
"All I have to do is let the work speak for itself," he concluded. "Hopefully people will realize that this is engrained in me and there wasn't really any question on anyone actually connected to the piece or who was actually a part of the film, there was never any kind of discussion that it wouldn't be me."
Dear Evan Hansen tells the story of a socially anxious high school student, paralyzed by the hyper-connectivity of social media and forced to watch the world from the outside looking in. Trying to improve his self-image, Evan writes himself a letter that is mistaken for a classmate's suicide note — and rides that error to popularity.
The musical features a score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who both won an Oscar for their lyrics to La La Land (and took home the Tony for their Dear Evan Hansen score). Tony-winner Steven Levenson, who penned the musical's book, also adapted its screenplay for the film.
While Platt reprised his role in the movie, he's the only one from the stage production who did. Rachel Bay Jones and Mike Faist — who both also won Tonys for their roles — did not return, nor did original stars Jennifer Laura Thompson,, Laura Dreyfuss, Kristolyn Lloyd, Will Roland, and Michael Park.
Back in May, after the trailer's release, Platt did acknowledge that he has gotten older since playing Evan in a since-deleted tweet.
"Thank you from the bottom of my [heart] for the outpouring of trailer love yesterday," Platt wrote in the deleted tweet. "The film required me to revisit areas of personal pain, so seeing people excited & moved makes it so deeply worth it."
He then linked to an interview he did with Vanity Fair, writing, "P.S. to the randos being jerks about age, read this great article and/or watch Grease."
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In his Vanity Fair interview, he said: "I think everybody obviously had in their minds that I wasn't going to stay teen-adjacent forever. The need to get it done was a little urgent. Then of course the pandemic happened, and I kind of assumed that was that—it would be a no-go, and by the time the pandemic was over, I'd have outgrown it."
Dear Evan Hansen is only in theaters September 24.