Netflix’s “Never Have I Ever” star Jaren Lewison sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the latest episode of “Hollywood at Home with The Creative Coalition,” a podcast featuring unplugged and uncensored conversations with today’s biggest stars. In the newest episode, Lewison talks about juggling acting and academics, discovering the depth of his character in “Never Have I Ever,” meeting John McEnroe, and much more. Highlights below.
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Highlights from “Hollywood at Home with The Creative Coalition” featuring Jaren Lewison –
On going to college while acting in “Never Have I Ever”: “Really, it was just about time management. I think that, my whole life, that’s been something that I’ve been really good at. I thrive on being busy. I love having, like, seven things to do at one time. And it’s not that I’m necessarily good at multitasking, because I don’t think that that’s really what I’m good at. I’m good at getting one thing done at a time. But I plan ahead. So like, if I had an essay that was due three weeks in advance, I would get it done. So that when those three weeks finished and I was on set or I was shooting, then it was a lot less stressful because I had already done it. I didn’t have to worry about it. And luckily for me, production was very supportive. Like, there was a couple of times where I’d be like, ‘Oh my gosh, guys, I have this exam. The professor said I have to be there in person. I can’t do it online. Any chance– I only have this one scene on this one day– can we move it. Like is there a possibility?’ And they were really gracious and helpful when they could be. And my professors worked with me, I would stay in constant communication with them where I’d be like, ‘Here’s what I’m missing.’ And I’d turn in sometimes supplemental work where I’d have to do additional assignments and have to go into office hours and like, have one on one conversations with professors and tell them about the readings. And then I think the biggest thing too was, I had a really great support network. My family and then my roommates who are my best friends, they really, like, kept me grounded and the little things that they did really helped me be successful– where I’d come home after like a 14-hour workday. And instead of having to cook dinner for 30-45 minutes, they had already cooked for me, they had plated it. All I had to do was get into my room and start on my homework and they did dishes and all these little things. ‘Oh, not a big deal!’ And I was like ‘It is a big deal and I love you and without you I would be dead.’”
On jumping at the opportunity to play Ben in “Never Have I Ever” and discovering the depth of his character: “I mean, the second that I saw “Untitled Kaling/Fisher Project for Netflix,” I didn’t even necessarily need to look at the role to know that it was going to be an absolute home run. I think that– and I was a fan of Lang and her writing from, like “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “30 Rock” and some other projects she’s worked on. Mindy, obviously from “The Office,” “Mindy Project.” “Late Night” had just come out. And I went and saw that which was hilarious. And I knew that the two of them together was going to be something so special, and they were going to create such layered and multi-dimensional characters. And they’ve done that for everybody. And when I read Ben Gross, the sides were so, so funny. And I remember I was working with my acting coach, one of them at the time. His name is Alex Gay, and him and I were, like, going through this script. And we were, like, giggling, we were just sitting there like, ‘This is so funny.’ Because Ben on the surface is so loud and brash. But underneath that, you can tell that there’s so, so much more. Because when you have people like that, that are name dropping, or hurling insults or trying to showcase in a very cheeky way how wealthy and successful they are, there’s always reasons behind that. And I could tell the second I read the sides that he was going to have so much underneath him. And then when I got the chance to read in front of Mindy and Lang for the screen test, they had added on an additional scene, which wound up being very similar to the scene from Episode 106, where Ben is crying in Dr. Vishwakumar’s office, that was one of my screen test scenes. So when I got that I was like, ‘Yep, that makes so much sense. He’s struggling. He’s struggling so so much.'”
On meeting John McEnroe on set and what he adds as a narrator: “I met him a couple of times. He’s the best. I also– funny enough, John McEnroe is my dad’s favorite tennis player. My dad played tennis all growing up. And I recently got into tennis during COVID. And I knew who John was. And when I met him for the first time, he was, like, so funny. And he’s so unapologetically himself. And it’s so refreshing to get to talk to a guy like that, like, he tells you what he thinks, he’s so funny. And he’s such a hard worker between all the tennis commentating, and being able to meet someone that was at the pinnacle of their profession. And he’s like the epitome of a hard worker, and he’s emotional, which I love. If I was alive at the time that he was playing, I have no doubt he would be my favorite player, because I think that he is so, like, real. And he’s so grounded. And he has the ability to bring that style to our show. And Devi is a bit of a hothead and McEnroe was known for being one too. But they both also share this like, big, big heart. And you can tell and McEnroe, like, gives so much to the role, into everything that he does. And Devi tries to do that for her friends and her relationships. That doesn’t mean that it’s without their screw-ups. But although it seems like an unlikely pairing, I do understand a lot of the similarities and the reasons why it works so well.”
More about “Hollywood at Home with The Creative Coalition”
Hosted by The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, “Hollywood at Home with The Creative Coalition” brings listeners intimate portraits, key moments of discovery, and “art and soul” conversations with iconic entertainment industry personalities from the big screen to the boardroom, from L.A. to D.C. Listen now at http://thecreativecoalition.org/podcast.
Upcoming guests include Iain Armitage (“Young Sheldon”) and Paul Scheer (“Black Monday,” “The League”).
Previous guests include Jason Alexander (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Shiri Appleby (“UnREAL”), Justin Bartha (“The Hangover,” “National Treasure”), David Alan Basche (“The Exes”), Asante Blackk (“This Is Us”), Carly Chaikin (“Mr. Robot”), Aaron Cooley (“The First Lady”), Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Alan Cumming (“Schmigadoon!, “The Good Wife”), Ethan Cutkosky (“Shameless”), The Creative Coalition President and actor Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is the New Black”), Griffin Dunne (“This Is Us”), Kerry Ehrin (“The Morning Show”), Wayne Federman (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Frances Fisher (“Titanic,” “Unforgiven”), Michael Fishman (“Roseanne,” “The Conners”), Jim Gaffigan (“The Jim Gaffigan Show”), LaMonica Garrett (“1883,” “Sons of Anarchy”) Willie Garson (“And Just Like That…”), Judy Gold (“The Other F Word”), Nicholas Gonzalez (“The Good Doctor”), Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Tony Hale (“Veep,” “Arrested Development”), Evan Handler (“And Just Like That…,” “Californication”), Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond,” “The Middle”), Jon Huertas (“This Is Us”), Jason Isaacs (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Harry Potter”), Susan Isaacs (“Compromising Positions”), Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Nathan Kress (“iCarly”), Chad Lowe (“Supergirl”), Aasif Mandvi (“The Daily Show”), Rachel Mason (“Circus of Books”), Marlee Matlin (“CODA”), AnnaLynne McCord (“Let’s Get Physical”), Eric McCormack (“Will and Grace”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs”), Katherine McNamara (“Shadowhunters”), Melissa Manchester (“Don’t Cry Out Loud”), Molly Smith Metzler (“Maid,” “Shameless”), Marta Milans (“Shazam!”), Rob Morrow (“Billions”), Kathy Najimy (“Younger”), Ken Olin (“This is Us,” “Thirtysomething”), Haley Joel Osment (“Future Man,” “Entourage”), Joey and Daniella Pantoliano (“The Matrix,” “Memento”), Ross Patterson (“Range 15”), Bill Prady (“The Big Bang Theory”), Kyla Pratt (“The Proud Family”), Jessica Queller (“Supergirl”), Sheryl Lee Ralph (“Abbott Elementary”), Anthony Rapp (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Yolonda Ross (“The Chi”), Reid Scott (“Veep”), Mona Scott-Young (“Love & Hip Hop”), Alena Smith (“Dickinson”), Julie Taymor (“The Lion King”), Lea Thompson (“Back to the Future”), Tramell Tillman (“Severance”), Krista Vernoff (“Grey’s Anatomy”), KT Tunstall (“Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” “Suddenly I See”), Matt Walsh (“Veep”), Alfre Woodard (“Clemency,” “Luke Cage”), Constance Zimmer (“Good Trouble”), and David Zucker (“Airplane!,” “Scary Movie”).
More about The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating its members on issues of public importance. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. For more information, visit https://thecreativecoalition.org.