Interview: Jean-Luc Bilodeau Talks Baby Daddy, Ben, & Bartending – Exclusive
Jean-Luc Bilodeau plays the frustratingly lovable Ben Wheeler on Freeform’s Baby Daddy, which returns to our screens tonight. When the show left off back in April, Danny and Riley’s relationship was on the rocks while Ben grappled with his feelings for Zoey, so Pop City Life got the scoop on what to expect from the second half of Baby Daddy season 5. Read on for our interview with Jean-Luc Bilodeau!
The first half of Baby Daddy season 5 ended with Ben realizing he and Zoey were meant to be together, but when he went to tell her how he felt, he found out her ex was back in the picture. Has he missed his opportunity, or does he still have a chance?
Jean-Luc Bilodeau: I think he’ll soon realize that she’s probably not the one for him. If she’s going back and forth like that, that’s drama. Ben’s a little bit like me in that sense – if it’s too much drama, then he needs to move on. So I think, yeah, he missed his chance, I guess you could say that, but he’s also given another chance to maybe find someone else and just focus on the relationship with his daughter.
You could say the father/daughter relationship is the central love story in Baby Daddy. What new challenges does Ben face in the upcoming episodes as Emma continues to grow up?
Now he’s submitting her to be accepted into preschool and stuff like that, so she’s becoming her own little young woman. He is following pretty close behind, but she’s growing quickly and she’s getting up there! And she’s a smart girl, too. It’s just a valley of unknown at this point, and he’s looking at this with an open heart and an open mind, but he’s gonna make some mistakes involving raising Emma, I think, and he’s got to get back up and find the solutions. It’s a typical father/daughter relationship, and it’s hard when you don’t have the mother around to help out.
In the mid-season finale, Ben told Sam that if he started something with Zoey, it might not end. Is the fact that Zoey’s a mother part of what attracted Ben to her initially? What is it about Zoey that’s different?
I think it’s just a visceral connection – I don’t think there’s really much science to it, he just likes what he sees and he has a connection with her. Her being a mother already tells him that she’s ready and willing to take on those duties, so I think that he’s attracted to the fact that she’s been through a lot of what he’s also been through. And she’s a great girl! Zoey is very kind and funny and all that, so they match well together.
Speaking of going through a lot, golden couple Riley and Danny are on the rocks after Riley found out Danny slept with Sam in high school. When Riley literally puts Danny on trial in the season 5 summer premiere of Baby Daddy, how does Ben fit into that, and how does he cope with being caught in the middle of two people he really cares about?
Well, he feels somewhat responsible for putting them together, really. I mean, he’s the one who set them up, so I think he’s wrapped up in this whole court situation willingly because he knows that they’re meant to be together and he knows that they should stay together, so he’s gonna fight for them. I think he shares the same sentiment as I do with the whole Riley thing – I think she’s being a little crazy and she needs to let go of the fight on this one, because she’s overreacting a little bit. But yeah, Ben’s willing to help them figure it out and find the solution.
Ben is notoriously irresponsible, as well as kind of immature and girl-crazy, but that’s a big part of what makes his character so lovable. At the same time, it does seem like he’s been starting to grow up a little bit this season. As an actor, how do you balance staying true to those core Ben traits while still showing character growth?
I think that Ben is Ben, so regardless of how mature he seems, I think he’s always going to stay true to himself and be the fun-loving risk-taker. And he is a very mature kid, I think. I don’t know many people who can raise a kid as eloquently as he is. And being girl-crazy is normal for being in his mid-20s! I’m the same age as him, so I’m kind of figuring this life out at the same pace as he is. Zoey sort of brings out this super-mature side of Ben and he kind of lets go of his immature side, but Sam brings out the immature side, so I think that he doesn’t quite know who he is yet, which is normal. I hope for the rest of this show that he stays true to the season 1 Ben, but with a little more responsibility. I want him to stay the same person.
Ben is now the proud owner of Bar on B, but we haven’t seen him show off his fancy bartending tricks in a while. Is that because you’ve lost your touch?!
That’s funny! You know what, me and Lem [director Michael Lembeck] always say that it needs to happen at least once a season, with a different scene of flair. But no, I don’t think Ben’s lost his touch, it’s that we get so wrapped up in the other business of the show that by Thursday or Friday, putting together a routine is a little bit difficult. I do work with a flair bartending coach, so we’ve got to plan those things far in advance. It’s up to the writers just to write in a quick little “Ben does some flair bartending and then the scene starts,” and then we’ll get the coach and I’ll learn the tricks and then do them. I enjoy that stuff a lot, so whenever it’s in, I’m stoked. It’s good times!
I like that being a bartending coach is an actual career.
It’s awesome! He’s actually just a flair bartender at a bar in Anaheim, so they just found him somewhere online and hired him, and he’s great! Jimmy the bar man! He’s cool. He doesn’t run a school or anything, but he just teaches when people ask, I guess.
Thank you very much for your time, Jean-Luc! We’re really excited for the Baby Daddy premiere, so keep doing what you’re doing!
Awesome, thank you so much! I appreciate it!