Benjamin Evan Ainsworth has just arrived in his Los Angeles hotel. This week sees the release of the live action adaptation of Disney’s Pinocchio, in which he voices the iconic title character. Meanwhile, the Canadian sitcom he stars in, Son of a Critch, debuts on Paramount+ in the UK.
It’s a big week for the 13-year-old actor from the north of England but he still makes time for The Big Issue. Having started out on Emmerdale, Ainsworth talks about his career so far, which includes The Haunting of Bly Manor, The Sandman as well as his starring roles in Son of a Critch and Pinocchio…
The Big Issue: Watching you in Son of a Critch and Pinocchio, I’d never have known you were English…
Benjamin Evan Ainsworth: It takes a lot of work. And with Son of a Critch, the Newfoundland accents are so particular. I go back to normal between scenes. On set it’s so relaxed and everyone’s really chilled. It’s nice to just be my normal self. And then when it’s time to roll, step into that character.
The show is based on the childhood of Canadian comedian and writer Mark Critch, and you play his younger self. Are you quite similar to the character?
Well, he’s kind of similar in a few aspects. But he’s 11 going on 60 so he’s much older than his own years. His cultural references come from the ’60s and the ’50s. He’s out of touch with the modern world.
You must be quite mature for your age as well so do you sometimes feel like an old soul?
Maybe a little bit sometimes. I really love my times with my grandpa and I love talking to people a bit older than myself.
Son of a Critch is set in 1986. Does that seem like a very long time ago to you?
I guess so. I saw like a vinyl record player and it was the size of a coffin in the living room set. I was like, ‘What is that?!’
Do you think the 1980s would have been a better time to grow up?
I think there are pros and cons. You could always go out and hang out with friends so maybe that kind of thing would be fun. But it’s much more safe nowadays I think. I’m happy growing up my era.
You’re from England, work in Canada, are in LA today. Do you ever go to school?
Yeah, I go to a normal school back home when I’m not acting. And when you’re on set, you have a tutor and my school sends stuff for me to do.
A lot of Son of a Critch takes place at school, so is it good to work around other kids?
It’s fun to have people my age on set. I can relate to them a bit more. It’s like school without the work basically.
Your character shares his bedroom with his grandfather, Pop, played by Malcolm McDowell. What’s it like sharing a bedroom with him?
Oh, what a legend. All those scenes in the bedroom. I can’t wait for people to see them. They’re so heart-warming and fun. And as a person Malcolm is so funny, and he’s a Liverpool fan too. We go down to the Irish pub of Newfoundland and watch the games.
Have you seen any of the films that made him famous?
No, because most of those are 18s. So not yet but we’re getting there. Another couple of years.
You’ve been in dramatic series before like The Haunting of Bly Manor. Is being in a comedy a different way of acting?
it still has that grounded element to it. And it’s still serious and it still means something to the characters, but it’s lighter. Within the scenes, you have a lot of fun.
Pinocchio wants to be a real boy. What do you really want in your life?
Well, I support Liverpool FC so I really want them to do well this season. I want to them to win the Champions League, the Premier League, and the FA Cup. I want them to win the treble. Come on! Or maybe the ability to learn lines – like, you just read through your script and then you’ve learned them – that ‘s also a good one.
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