Sure, the play is called Romeo and Juliet, but Ben Chase is pretty certain he has the choicest role in The Old Globe’s current production (through Sept. 15). “I get all the good lines and the sword fight,” says Chase, who plays the eloquent, hot-headed Mercutio. “And then I’m done at intermission.”
The fast-rising actor, who is just a few years out of the Brown University/Trinity Rep MFA program, has already appeared in a string of plays in his hometown of Manhattan as well as on TV shows and in films, including the hit series Transparent, Difficult People (Hulu) and the Emmy-winning documentary Jim: The James Foley Story. This fall, he will be exposed to his largest audience yet when he plays opposite Anne Hathaway and Ben Affleck in the political thriller The Last Thing He Wanted. Set in the ’80s during President Reagan’s reelection, the Netflix movie, based on the Joan Didion novel of the same name, concerns a journalist (Hathaway) who quits her job to become an arms dealer in Central America.
As an undergrad at Tufts, Chase studied political science, thinking he might pursue the life of a globe-traveling foreign correspondent. But on a whim, he signed up for an acting class. “I got really serious about it very quickly,” he says. His junior year, he drove to New York and auditioned for a semesterlong course with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and got in. “Shakespeare was the first thing I fell in love with,” he says.
No doubt, the connection he feels with the Bard of Avon will be on full display to those who attend the performances of Romeo and Juliet. Says the Globe’s Erna Finci Viterbi artistic director, Barry Edelstein: “Ben Chase is one of those special actors who just rivet your attention. He’s endlessly inventive and hugely charismatic, and you can’t take your eyes off of him for fear of missing whatever next surprise he’s got in store.”