Interview: Paul Ben-Victor ‘Should’ve Been Romeo’
He’s been approached by producers at Hollywood restaurants who start pitching him potential franchise projects, thinking he’s the man who green-lit Aquaman (from his role on Entourage) and he’s had connected goodfellas buy him a glass of chianti at nightclubs out of respect, thinking he’s the Greek who controls the Port (his role on The Wire).
Over the last six years, Ben-Victor found himself cast in important roles on HBO shows The Wire, Entourage and John from Cincinnati (simultaneously) as well as making appearances on a slew of other shows like My Name is Earl and Everybody Hates Chris.
Most recently Ben-Victor has done 5 seasons on USA’s In Plain Sight and soon you’ll be seeing him in a leading role in the new movie Should’ve Been Romeo, which he co-wrote, produced and is a labor of love for him.
I recently took Ben-Victor to small claims court over a frivolous dispute I made up (he’s so busy it was the only way I could get him to sit down for an interview with me, or rather to sit across from me in front of a clerk and judge). When the judge ordered all claimants and defendants to try and mediate, I got to go toe-to-toe with the chameleon character actor himself.
Ben-Victor’s got a deep, low baritone voice with great resonance that is soothing. I’ll let his answers speak for themselves.
Meoli: Should’ve Been Romeo is an indy film you describe as Little Miss Sunshine meets Tootsie. Tell me where you got the idea for this film and the characters?
Meoli: The judge said this is the time where we should answer each others questions…
Paul Ben-Victor: Do you know how many court scenes I’ve done in episodics? Didn’t need another.
Meoli: So Michael Goldberg wrote Should’ve Been Romeo with you?
Paul Ben-Victor: We wrote the story together, he’s a brilliant story guy, he wrote Snow Dogs and Cool Runnings.
Meoli: There was another writer as well, right?
Paul Ben-Victor: My Mother.
Meoli: Don’t kid we’ve only got a few minutes before we have to go back in there.
Paul Ben-Victor: Not kidding, my mom is a brilliant writer and we wrote the movie together and then I asked my childhood friend Marc Bennett to direct it.
Paul Ben-Victor: I checked the claim why you’re suing me. You actually accused me of not returning your oven?
Paul Ben-Victor: Your stove oven? Who does that…?
Meoli: This cast you got for your Romeo short is truly diverse.
Paul Ben-Victor: It’s a feature numb-nuts…
Meoli: Speaking of nuts, what gave you the cajones to offer Kelly Osborne her first film role?
Paul Ben-Victor: Know who Mary Vernieu is?
Meoli: She’s an incredible casting director…
Paul Ben-Victor: She agreed to come on board. She brought Kelly in to read. Kelly had such a fresh take – her english accent gave the character such a wonderful flavor and Kelly brought her own brand of humor to the role.
Meoli: I’m kinda over the English actors…
Paul Ben-Victor: You’re an idiot. Do we actually have to go back in there and have this case heard?
Meoli: Not if you return the oven you stole from me.
Paul Ben-Victor: OK, now you’re scaring me…
Meoli: The cast in your movie is impressive.
Paul Ben-Victor: Ed Asner, Carol Kane. Got a bunch of my good friends on-board to help me out like Michael Rapaport, Natasha Henstridge, Mary McCormack, Evan Handler and others…
Meoli: I was available too, you know…
Paul Ben-Victor: You’re in the movie.
Meoli: Thank you by the way for that …
Paul Ben-Victor: You see the iphone in my hand? I’m unfriending you as we speak.
Meoli: You know what I say about you to most people. Great work ethic. Paul Ben-Victor will perform on any stage, even one for the county Superior court of Los Angeles.
Paul Ben-Victor: This interview’s over…
Meoli: What goals have changed for you over the years? How has your path changed the way you view the business and your role as an actor?
Paul Ben-Victor: I’ve always taken it one job at a time – I take what comes next. Perhaps I should’ve been more picky with some earlier jobs but a man’s got to eat. I have dreams as much as the next guy but I didn’t really set out to get to a certain place. I look back and I see a path– how it all connected somehow, but I didn’t really have a plan. I just worked really hard and dove into each job head first and I hoped for the best. I just keep going and I don’t really look back.
Meoli: I’m dropping the charges. You’re cool. As in, you have that thing that attracts people to you, makes them want to know more about you.
Paul Ben-Victor: No let’s do this. Need to fine tune my lawyer moves, (ala Pacino from And Justice for All ) “You’re out of order! You’re out of order! The whole trial is out of order! They’re out of order!”
Meoli: You never stop working do you?
Paul Ben-Victor: Never.
Meoli: I could see if we can get an extension and move this to The Peoples Court. I think it’s scale + 10!
Paul Ben-Victor: Not a chance.
Paul Ben-Victor stars in the upcoming Should’ve Been Romeo. Find out more at .
Christian Meoli is a freelance journalist as well as actor/producer. Follow him on Twitter @christianmeoli.