“Suits” has always loved bringing back old characters in new situations — and on Wednesday night’s (Feb. 8) episode, “Teeth, Nose, Teeth,” we got to see a whole new side of the firm’s IT guy, Benjamin.
Portrayed by actor David Reale, Benjamin has been working for
Pearson Specter Litt since Season 1, and there’s a lot more to the seemingly socially awkward computer genius that meets the eye. With Donna (Sarah Rafferty) as his muse, Benjamin is passionately pursuing his own side project: He wants to create a next-level version of Siri called… The Donna.
We got to speak with the 31-year-old actor about whether Benjamin’s flirtations and admiration toward Donna will lead to something more romantic, and what it’s been like working on the hit USA series for the past six years. Reale initially booked the show as a day player, and scheduling issues almost caused him to miss out on returning as a major guest star this season. However, Reale is grateful things worked out.
Not only does the Canadian actor humbly discuss how he gets recognized more from his blink-and-you-might-miss-it, now infamous role as Glen Coco from the film “Mean Girls,” he explains the very special relationship Ben has with Donna, and what viewers can expect to see from his character moving forward.
How much notice do you get when your character is going to return?
It’s always different. Usually, Ben’s only involved in one scene. Those are a bit shorter notice. This was a bit more involved and when they were coming up with the idea in the writer’s room, and they reached out to see if I was available, I almost wasn’t able to do it. After six years, [finally getting this call] was very exciting — and almost tragic! I was in Montreal doing a play! But it was very serendipitous, and ended up just working out. So, I had about month to prepare — but it was all up in the air finalizing as to what it would be.
Did you know Ben would become recurring character?
It was a total surprise. I was in one episode in Season 1. And I wasn’t in Season 2. I just assumed that was it. That’s kinda how it is when you’re a day player. But in Season 3, I was in two episodes, and all of a sudden it became recurring. It’s like a family thing. Once he was there, and showed his loyalty [to the firm] — and this show is all about loyalty — I was like, Okay. He’s a part of this world now.
Ben flirts a lot with Donna…
Ben’s been admiring Donna from afar for quite some time. He adores this brilliant woman and sees how good she is at her job, and how good she is with her friends — and recognizing that, [he thinks], “I bet the whole world would benefit from having a Donna!”
Will things turn romantic?
I don’t know if he’s that delusional. It’s that kinda thing where you have a friend who’s untouchable, so out of your league, that you would never even entertain the dream of it — so in that way, you’re free to adore them more. Donna teases and flirts, and Ben’s like, I get it. You’re teasing me because you’re this gorgeous and incredible woman.
But they are just enjoying that dynamic. The love that could never be, but it’s fun to play with.
At first, Donna’s treatment towards you feels borderline sexual harassment…
That’s so funny. I never thought of it that way. And Ben recording everything she says for two years? The two of them have this intimacy where they take liberties, and they have a trust there already that’s been brewing behind the scenes. We all have those friends that you meet and you hit it off right away, and you all of a sudden have this relationship like you don’t have with anyone else. That’s Ben and Donna.
Harvey might have an issue with this, right?
Well, he barely knows my name! But I’d be willing to have that argument. I’d love a great fight scene in which they fight over time with Donna. [But] Ben doesn’t have the litigation skills to go up against Harvey.
Well, there’s more to come. Ben is taking on the challenge to try and make The Donna more empathic, to get it to have some her compassion and humanity. We’ll see him struggle with that — is that even possible? Can Siri do that? Can Alexa do that? Can Ben crack that technological challenge? That’s the next step.
Do you get recognized more as Ben, or Glen Coco?
There’s three things I get recognized as: Benjamin from “Suits,” Glen Coco from “Mean Girls,” or mistaken for B.J. Novak. A woman jogged past me the other day and yelled, “You go Glen Coco!” It happened so quickly I don’t know how [she knew it was me], but it’s all in the ether. It’s weird being an internet meme. You barely see me in the movie!
“Suits” airs on Wednesday nights at 1o p.m. ET/PT on USA.