After leaving Eastenders to head to Hollywood, the actor reveals how much his life has changed
Ben Hardy is arguably best known as EastEnders’ Peter Beale.
Remember the ‘who killed Lucy’ storyline that rumbled on for months? After Ian Beale’s daughter was murdered, the whole Square was under suspicion over the grisly killing. It turned out to be Peter’s little brother, Bobby, who had bludgeoned his sister to death.
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‘Enders eye candy Ben exited the soap in 2015 to ‘try for his dreams’ in Hollywood – but remains a firm favourite with fans who miss him showing off that six pack on the show.
Since he swapped Walford for Sunset Boulevard, Ben, who’s dated actress Kat Perrett since 2010, has seen his career go from strength to strength.
Last year, he starred in X-Men: Apocalypse Unearthed alongside Jennifer Lawrence, who he casually describes as ‘very cool’. He’s now starring in new film, Only the Brave, as a firefighter opposite Jennifer Connelly and Andie MacDowell. We catch up about all things Hollywood – and how much he misses home comforts…
Hey Ben! Do you get homesick when you’re working over in the States?
I become even more British than I already am. I’ll do anything that’s British – I’ll start drinking tea, even though I don’t like it! I make sure that I watch every football game, or soccer as they call it here. The guys I worked with on Only the Brave were great. We lived together and they made being away from home it a lot easier.
How much do you miss home?
A lot. Getting to travel the world is part of my job, which is incredible, but when you’re away for three or four months you start to miss home.
Are you based in the UK now or are in Hollywood?
The UK – I live in London and I prefer it here. London is the best city in the world.
Do you do the clean-living yoga thing when you’re in LA?
I try to avoid that, I think it’s all a bit much. LA’s funny – you have all of that going on with the healthy green shakes, but then you can also have oily, fatty pizza. It’s one or the other, really. I don’t buy into it all.
How often do you work out to get your ripped body?
I only look like that when I’m in things. When I’m not working I put on about a stone! I’m very much all or nothing. When I have to look good and be in shape then I go to the gym four times a week, at least.
Have you got a girlfriend?
I do, yes. Her name’s Kat. We’ve been together for seven years.
Tell us about Only the Brave…
It’s about a huge firefighting tragedy with a team of 20 firefighters. They became a hotshot crew, which is the highest honour for firefighters in the US. It’s the story of the hard work they put in and how brave they are.
Did you come close to the fire?
We did. It was pretty scary at times. One guy, Kenny, was very close to the blaze at one point. It was a bit hairy but it looks but amazing on film. It got so hot in there – we were all sweating buckets.
Did you get any burns?
No I didn’t – luckily. Health and safety made sure that didn’t happen. It wasn’t anything close to what those guys would have faced though!
What’s it like filming out in America?
The film’s set in Prescott, Arizona. We shot in Santa Fe in New Mexico, which is a similar landscape in the American outback. It’s beautiful.
Are you going to be in any more X-Men films?
I don’t think so, but who knows? I had a great time filming X-Men and if I got the call to do another one then I definitely would. It’s not every day an actor gets to play a superhero or a supervillain!
What’s Jennifer Lawrence like?
She’s great. She’s funny. She’s very cool and a nice girl.
We’ve seen you go from East End drama to Hollywood… It was a very surreal jump. In what ways did being in EastEnders open up doors for you?
It’s interesting. Some actors come out of a soap and find it very hard to make the transition because there’s a bit of a stigma attached to being a soap actor.
Why do you think that is?
It’s one of the hardest jobs there is in the acting world. You’re making two hours of film a week, whereas when you’re on a film you’re spending four months making two hours of film. Can you imagine how busy it is in a soap? So I’ve been very fortunate.
How did you manage to make it in the States?
For me, it happened when I sent a showreel of my EastEnders work to US agents. I managed to get myself a US agent and it then it all went from there. The game is changing. There are a lot more people leaving soaps and doing very well, which is really great to see as they are some of the most talented actors out there.
Would you ever go back to EastEnders?
Probably not, to be honest with you. It’s such a hard thing for an actor, working on a soap. You’re constantly left feeling unfulfilled. You have very little time to concentrate on anything else. I’m not slating the process. It’s just the nature of the beast. I really enjoyed working on EastEnders.
Do you chat to anyone else from the EastEnders cast?
I still hang out with Himesh Patel, who played Tamwar Masood. He’s left EastEnders now and he’s doing really well – he’s actually on Broadway doing a play called People, Places and Things.
You’ve got a film coming out called Bohemian Rhapsody later this year, about Queen…
I do! I’m shooting it right now. I play Roger Taylor, the drummer from Queen. It’s a film all about Freddie Mercury’s life. He had a really interesting life, which people don’t really know that much about. It looks at his life as a musician, from starting out in a university band to then being in one of the biggest bands in the world, selling out stadiums across the globe. I got to learn the drums as part of my job. It’s the kind of thing that people always want to do, but never get the chance to learn, so it was great that I did it for work.
Where else can we see you on TV? Have you got any other projects coming up?
I’ve got a drama on the BBC called The Woman in White and that’s coming out in January. That will be on Sunday on BBC1. It’s based on a spooky old Victorian novel by Wilkie Collins that has elements of the supernatural to it. It’ll be great to be back on the BBC again.
Only the Brave is showing in UK cinemas now.
Words by: Rosie Gizauskas
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