Inside Jonathan Bennett’s Big Breakout Into New Acting Territory

From MEAN GIRLS to Broadway’s latest iteration of SPAMALOT, Jonathan Bennett is this season’s freshest face.

Actor Jonathan Bennett has established himself as one of the finest actors of his generation

In 2024,, actors are introduced to the mainstream by way of standout performances, a hard truth we learned that cannot be ignored. Confidence is an essential part of acting, but can a leader simultaneously show humility and drive an audience effectively? Choosing a breakout role isn’t always easy. What makes a true breakout performance is the chemistry and actor conveys with the audience.

Actor Jonathan Bennett has established himself as one of the finest actors of his generation. He achieved overnight success -when he starred as Aaron Samuels in the teen comedy hit film MEAN GIRLS, directed by Mark Waters.

New Territory:

A breakout role, is a term used in the film industry to describe the performance of an actor or actress which contributed significantly to the development of their career and beginning of critical recognition. Diversifying his talent, Bennett recently made his Broadway debut in Monty Python’s musical comedy, Spamalot, released a best-selling Mean Girls parody, Burn Cookbook, and became a fan favorite on Dancing With The Stars and Celebrity Big Brother. And that’s not all. He’s parlayed the success of The Christmas House franchise into a two-picture deal with Hallmark Media, for which he starred in and produced their Wedding of a Lifetime and The Holiday Sitter, the latter of which garnered the network yet another GLAAD Media Award nomination, along with his star turn in Christmas on Cherry Lane. 

His approach to acting combines instinct with intelligence. The 42-year-old actor selects his actions to reflect his character, successfully employing his physicality to actualize these decisions. Bennet’s ability to adapt and transform for each role is a testament to his dedication to his craft. The term “the fourth wall” refers to the audience. An actor breaks the fourth wall when they address the audience directly – and that’s just what Bennett seems to do best. He invests time and effort into understanding his characters, motivations, and journeys, allowing him to deliver incredibly layered and multifaceted performances.

(Blue Blazer and Pants by L.B.M 1911; White T-shirt by Superdry).

Bennett’s first foray into a studio film was Paramount’s smash hit MEAN GIRLS, produced by Lorne Michaels and writer Tina Fey. In this film, he starred opposite Lindsay Lohan. He has since starred as Bo Duke in Warner Bros. prequel to The Dukes of Hazzard, the comedy romp Bachelor Party Vegas with Kal Penn, the title role of National Lampoon’s Van Wilder: Freshman Year, in FOX’s sequel to the hit comedy, Cheaper by the Dozen, as Steve Martin’s antagonistic son-in-law; and reunited with co-star Hilary Duff for The Haunting of Sharon Tate.  Also to his credit is the original telefilm Harvest of the Heart, which was one of the first vehicles to film amidst the pandemic, the indie feature Potato Dreams of America, which premiered at SXSW, and the romantic comedy The Plus One alongside Cedric the Entertainer.

Blazer and Beige Pants by L.B.M 1911; Brown Shoes by Haspel x TB Phelp

Menswear Style:

For an actor, prioritizing personal style and presentation is crucial regardless of the work setting. This further conveys Bennett’s play with dualities, exploring the contrast of classic with unexpected and idiosyncratic elements, resulting in a modern twist on menswear style. There is a recurring intimacy to a visual language Bennett speaks with ease, inviting the viewer to experience the core values of his craft, innovation, and excellence. How an actor comes across to others is much too important to be left to chance. Today, actors serve as effective brand ambassadors, as the proliferation of streaming and social media has allowed them to cultivate international followings, underscoring the continued impact of personal presentation.

Sweatshirt by Supesu; Jeans by Hugo Boss; Brown Boots by FRYE

Menswear brands aim to supply consumers with more comfortable clothes. Refined and relaxed has become more popular because they give men more choice, either to coordinate a individualized look or to stick a more comfortable version of a suit. This is a time to reclaim visual identity. This spring/summer 2024 season, putting on a suit may no longer feel like playing dress-up.

Sweatshirt by Supesu; Carrera Chronosprint X Porsche Watch by Tag Heuer

I recently had the privilege of speaking with Jonathan Bennett about his techniques to create a believable character, his most challenging role to date, and why he’s more interested in telling stories that speak to the LGBTQ+ experience in life! 

Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to about your current routines and projects. 

Jonathan Bennett, I can’t, which is exciting because it means I’m working on something I’m so excited about that will be out later this year. 

JD: What is your favorite role or project you’ve worked on, and why? 

JB: I’ve got a lot of favorites, but without a doubt, executive producing and starring in “The Holiday Sitter” is my favorite project for many reasons. First off, it was the first LGBTQ+-led romantic storyline for Hallmark Channel. Secondly, we did it with a fully LGBTQ+ creative team. Thirdly, I think it’s a beautiful story of realizing that we are all worthy of love, just like my character ‘Sam’ found out. Most importantly, because of what people have told me, this movie has meant to them. It’s a story that would have given me so much hope when I was younger, so to be able to create it will always be extra special to me. 

Brown Leather Jacket by Luigi Bianchi Sartoria Hooded Sweater and Beige Pants by L.B.M 1911 Brown Shoes by Haspel x TB Phelps Watch by Doxa watches

JD: What steps do you take to understand the importance of your character? 

JB: I usually show up and pray to God that I know the words.

JD: Describe your last experience on stage

JB: Electric! It was the final night of Monty Python’s Spamalot on Broadway in April. Broadway has always been my first dream, so to get to have that and then get to close a show on Broadway was magical. We always had great audiences at the show because of the nature of the show; it lends itself to engaging the audience, but the closing night audience was out of this world. They gave me a standing ovation for my big number in the middle of the show, and it felt like that moment, all of my Broadway dreams coming true. 

JD: How do you mitigate disagreements between yourself and directors? With other actors? 

JB: I usually don’t have disagreements; if I do, I keep them to myself because I like working.  I’ve learned to make it easy for them to hire you and then make it easy for them to hire you again. One of my favorite directors, Ali Lieber, says, “Collaboration is key,” I think that’s important to remember. 

Pink Button Down Shirt by Haspel; Jeans by Icon Denim LA; Green Loafers by Marc Nolan

JD: What techniques do you use to create a believable character? What is the first thing you do to research and approach a role? And, what advice can you give to up-and-coming actors about researching roles to form an idea for portraying a specific character(s) that fits with the director’s vision?

JB: Right now, I’m more interested in telling stories that speak to the LGBTQ+ experience in life, an experience I know of firsthand. So, for that, my research comes from my own life and also those around me. We are in an extraordinary part of history where our stories are getting told increasingly, so my current goal is to lean into those.

JD: Give me an example of a goal you achieved by developing new skills to fit a particular role and how you achieved it

JB: Broadway! I didn’t know I could learn an entire Broadway show in 8 days, but I did it. I don’t believe in telling myself, “You can’t.” I believe in saying, “Find a way,” if that doesn’t work, then “Find another way.”

JD: The ability to sing and act in tandem; what is your secret for memorizing lines quickly?

JB:There is no secret for me; it’s just muscle memory. It just happens now from doing it repeatedly for such a long time. So, if there were a secret for me, I’d say it’s repetition. 

T-shirt by Calvin Klein;  Black Jeans by Hugo Boss;  Brown Boots by FRYE. Belt by POTRO

JD: How would you describe yourself in five words? 

JB: Passionate. Creative. Ambitious. Adventurous. Eyebrows. 

JD: How do you maintain confidentiality about plot twists and other developments in TV production before they air

JB: Pretty simple; we sign NDAs. And besides that, I’d never want to ruin anything for viewers anyway. I wouldn’t say I like for people to spoil the shows I watch, so I’d never spoil theirs.

(Shirt by Scotch & Soda; White T-shirt() by Superdry; Jeans by Hugo Boss).

JD: Describe your most challenging role to date. 

JB: Spamalot. Broadway was my first dream before TV or movies, but it only recently came true. Having to step into something that requires so much stamina but no longer in my 20s trying to do it pushed me in a great way. Every night, I felt so lucky to be on that stage.

JD: From Mean Girls to Hallmark’s first gay lead, what have been the pluses ( and minuses, if applicable) of portraying such iconic roles? 

JB, It’s all plusses. So, few actors get to be a part of something culturally significant in pop culture. I know no matter what roles I play, to many people, I’ll always be ‘Aaron Samuels.’ I see the joy it gives people to come up to me and quote a line from the movie or tell me how it shaped their teenage years, and that’s a pretty cool thing.


Talent Publicist: Craig Schneider

Editor & Creative Director: Joseph DeAcetis
Wardrobe Stylist: Megan Tischhauser
Wardrobe Stylist: Mariela Suaya
Photographer: Macrae Marran

Photographer Assistant: Luigi Malucelli Grooming: Shqipe Gocaj

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