When Fairly Legal returns for season 2, there will be one major addition to the cast: Australian actor Ryan Johnson will arrive in the role of Ben Grogan, a hotshot attorney who quickly spices up life at Reed & Reed. During a recent visit to the Fairly Legal set, Johnson told BuddyTV everything a viewer needs to know about Ben.
Ben is not another Kate.
Ryan Johnson: Ben comes from the working class, and he’s kind of worked his way into being a self-made man. This is the first time he’s had to work in a team. But [Kate]’s kind of like a poor little rich girl in many ways, and so she, you know, she’s always worried that the puppy hasn’t got water to drink.
Ben’s background is very, very different from Kate’s.
Ryan Johnson: Ben’s a dyslexic half-Jew from Catholic school, and his best friend is this black guy called Travis. So he was the only half-Jewish kid, and Travis was the only black guy at this school, and so they kind of bonded through being the outsiders.
Travis also ends up being a lawyer. But Travis has stayed on one side of town, and Ben’s kind of gone to the other. And so when Travis turns up, for Ben it’s a little bit — there’s this mixture of like excitement and pride in showing Kate where he’s from, but also, when Travis starts challenging him on daring to work his way out of where he was, then the rivalry kind of kicks in.
Ben likes — but doesn’t necessarily get — Kate.
Ryan Johnson: In the first episode… Ben turns up. I think he’s a little intrigued by this woman, a little bit excited by her. He sees her as kind of a worthy adversary because often, I get the impression, Ben’s the kind of guy that can work his way into a lady’s pants a little easier than some. But then, when he meets Kate, she shuts him down immediately. And so I think he’s interested in her, and she’s really smart and she’s a lawyer, and there’s just something about her that’s interesting and different.
Ben is a lot more cynical than Kate.
Ryan Johnson: Ben refers to [Kate] as someone who tilts at windmills, and she sort of heads off into the fields looking for problems… But then, in time, she starts kind of chipping away at that [cynical] side of him, and he learns that it’s not always about the win and that sometimes it is about the truth, to a certain degree. But if he got too much like that, he’d just be wet and boring.
There is a bit of a spark between Ben and Kate.
Ryan Johnson: I think the fact that Kate and Ben argue so much and the fact that they’re so passionate about what they do and the fact that they’re so fiery, that’s the kind of other option [to the stable Justin], and that’s what she’s playing up
Thus, Ben and Justin have a bit of a rivalry.
Ryan Johnson: When [Ben] finds out that the ex is an ADA and their paths cross, there’s a lot of tail-sniffing. And that’s fun for Ben because then it’s a lot of, kind of, chest-puffing and bobbing and kind of trying to, it’s just trying to get a rise out of this guy as much as he can.
And because [Justin]’s so by the book and so stuff, Ben has a field day with it.
But they don’t always compete.
Ryan Johnson: I think he learns to admire Justin, and I think within the battle there’s a mutual respect that kind of comes along. And there’s a really fun storyline where they get paired up with a cougar judge. Who takes a fancy to both of them… But within that, they learn a lot about each other, and so yeah, a mutual respect develops.
Ben has a respectful, but tricky, relationship with Lauren.
Ryan Johnson: [Lauren]’s got a lot of the old clients, and Ben just keeps bringing in these weird and wonderful randoms that, you know, no one really knows what to do with.
She brings so much discipline to the firm, because she’s all about the reputation. But in many ways, she kind of appeals to — from Ben’s perspective, I think — it’s a little bit more old-school in that, you know, she’s probably part of a riding club, and she goes to those clubs where you have to wear a jacket.
Whereas Ben would probably find some fun burger joint that does cool martinis, and he’d host a meeting there. It’s also, with Kate and Ben, it’s like the kids are loose, and she’s constantly trying to rein them in.
Fairly Legal season 2 will premiere on Friday, March 16 at 9pm on USA.
(Image and video courtesy of USA)
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
Laurel grew up in Mamaroneck, NY, Grosse Pointe, MI and Bellevue WA. She then went on to live in places like Boston, Tucson, Houston, Wales, Tanzania, Prince Edward Island and New York City before heading back to Seattle. Ever since early childhood, when she became addicted to The Muppet Show, Laurel has watched far too much TV. Current favorites include Chuck, Modern Family, Supernatural, Mad Men and Community. Laurel received a BA in Astrophysics (yes, that is possible) from Colgate University and a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies and History of Science from Columbia University before she realized that television is much better than studying.