It seems like only yesterday that The Secret Life of the American Teenager made its way into your living rooms in 2008. Ken Baumann plays Ben Boykewich on the hit ABC Family series which ends its 5 season run on Monday, June 3rd. We recently got the chance to chat with Ken about his time on the show, what he’ll miss most, and what he thinks about the upcoming series finale.
Check out our interview with Ken Baumann here:
PopCityLife: Would you say you’re happy with the way the series ended for your character?
Ken Baumann: I think so. I think so. Jokingly, I think it would’ve been great if Ben could’ve jumped out of a plane and died in a parachuting accident or been involved in another terrible arson or have become a fabled criminal, but none of that was in the card probably for budgetary concerns. But yes, I think so.
I think that the tone Ben ends on is very, very, very different from the tone he began in the pilot. I think the character arch was pretty huge. I think that more importantly where Ben ends up in the final episode it serves the sort of emotional arch of that final episode, which I think ultimately the finale episode’s got to function as an episode on its own. I think that it really does. I think it’s one of the best in the series.
PopCityLife: Do you have a favorite moment from filming the show?
Ken Baumann: It’s hard. It’s really hard. I have so many. The one I think back to the most was just the pilot and meeting everybody for the first time and not knowing everybody and how nervous everybody was and excitable and how brand new Daren was to the rhythms of the set, which was hilarious, and now he’s like old pro.
I feel like the pilot I think about the most and that it just was that none of us had any idea that the show would become so successful and then run for five years. We all thought like at best we were going to put in another ten episodes and that was that. Yes, that to me I think was the thing that left the strongest impression.
Again, I’m like incredibly close friends with the entire cast and most of the crew. So it was an experience that I don’t know I’ll be able to have again, working so closely with a group of people for so long.
Also revealed on the conference call:
Q) Are you working on any new projects or shows coming up?
K. Baumann: I finished a project not long ago called “Call Me Crazy” that aired on Lifetime. That was a blast and a really, I think, import movie. It’s five short films directed by five female directors and they’re all about mental illness. I think the movie does a very good job of presenting mental illness in a way that’s not sensationalized and it attempts to really connect to the truth of the pain and difficulty of living in mental illness.
Beyond that, I just got my first novel published on May 14th. It’s called “Solip.” I’ve been sort of doing the book promotions, reviews, book tour thing now. So that was very exciting for me.
Q) How do you think the fans are going to respond to the ending?
K. Baumann: That’s a good question. I don’t know to be honest. I’m very curious. I know that all I can speak to is how I responded to the ending, both in watching the last few scenes being filmed and reading the script, the final script. I think it is a very emotional ending and it’s an ambiguous ending. I know that it’s going to frustrate a lot of people. I’m very curious.
Regardless, I think that it is an appropriate ending. I think that it makes sense with the sort of arch of the entire show and I think that—yes, it’s just really emotional. It just felt right. It just felt right to me when I read the script and was there watching it be filmed.
Q) Do you think the fans are going to be expecting the ending or will they all be surprised with what happens?
K. Baumann: I don’t know. I’ve seen a little bit of the teasers. I think their expectations could be on the money but I think that there is a bit of a surprise there at the end. It’s not such an explicit narrative surprise, but it is definitely emotionally surprising, I think.
Q) And if you could write Ben’s future, what would it be?
K. Baumann: Well I think in keeping with my five-year long theme of making up ridiculous stuff when asked this question I’ll continue with that. I think that the character Ben will become an oil tycoon and create the world’s first peanut butter museum and then go on to marry Cindy Crawford. I think she’s married, but obviously that doesn’t matter. So I think that’s Ben’s future. I feel it. I feel it really strongly.
Q) What kind of projects do you have lined up now that the series is over?
K. Baumann: Right now I am gainfully unemployed and I’m writing a lot. I think there’s an unsung narrative to the actors’ lives that in between jobs you’re looking for work. You’re meeting people and going on auditions and that’s where I am right now, which is fine.
I think that is a time that not only helps you get other side projects done, but like I said, it’s allowed me to focus on my book that just came out and write a lot and sort of own up and try to work hard enough to be able to call myself a writer without feeling like a liar.
But it’s also allowed me to sort of have a little down time and think about what I want to do next, what kind of project and where I want to end up or whom I want to work with. So there’s nothing in the pipeline at the moment beyond writing projects, but it’s not at all a problem lately. I’m looking forward to stumbling into the next piece of work.
Q) Would you rather go into another sitcom or are you looking to break into movies? What kind of acting are you looking to go into?
K. Baumann: That’s hard. I don’t find myself thinking in terms of what kind of thing I want to do. Generally I think about what kind of people I want to work with. Although I will say I do love the idea of sort of the six months schedule of the feature film where you just do it for a little while and then you’re free again.
But at the same time I had a great experience on TV and the idea of working with people for years and years and getting to know them and really working deeply on a project, that sounds pretty good too. But for the most part I just focus on people, the people I want to work with, actors, writers, directors, producers, and companies. But again, I’m pretty open right now. I’m looking forward to meeting a new group of folks.
We’d like to thank Ken for taking the time to answer some questions for us. We really appreciate it!
The series finale of The Secret Life of the American Teenagers airs on Monday, June 3rd. Be sure to tune in on ABC Family.
If you haven’t already, be sure to follow Ken on Twitter here.
Interview by: Noelle Gruber