Published On: Fri, Jan 11th, 2019

Benjamin Wadsworth aims to be ‘virtuous’ in first lead role as Marcus on new TV series Deadly Class

Benjamin Wadsworth is only 19, but he already has firm ideas about what he doesn’t want to do as an actor.

“I really just dislike playing the boy-next-door character,” he says in a phone interview. “I find it mundane and boring.”

Lucky for him the character he plays in the new TV series Deadly Class is anything but. Debuting Wednesday at 10 p.m. on Space, the show is based on the comic-book series of the same name, about a teenager recruited into a private school in which the students are training to be assassins.

Teen angst takes on a whole new meaning when the bullies specialize in mortal combat.

The part of Marcus Lopez, a homeless orphan until he joins King’s Dominion, sees Wadsworth in a new position for him: the lead.

“This is my biggest role,” says the Houston, Texas-born actor, who played Iggy in the comedy web series Dad vs. Lad and appeared in Teen Wolf.

The pressure of being the star was “a bit overwhelming” at first but also very exciting, and “when we got to it I could handle it, and the excitement stayed.”

When Wadsworth first auditioned for Deadly Class he tried out for the role of Billy, a fellow outcast at the school with a green Mohawk, “but I didn’t think that role was very fitting for me.” When the producers learned Wadsworth is Hispanic they let him try out for Marcus.

“I guess they liked me, because I got the part,” he says.

He began reading the comics, created by Rick Remender, Wesley Craig and Lee Loughridge, before the second audition and “I loved it. Yep, I’m ready to do this. I’m ready to be this kid. I’m ready to go to Vegas” — although in reality he went to Vancouver, where the series was shot.

Marcus is described in the comics as a troubled youth, having lost both his parents after moving to the U.S. from Nicaragua and then ended up in a home where he was abused.

“He’s this teen who wants so badly to be in the family and have friends, but he’s put in this place where it’s testing his moral compass, and it’s really hard to be virtuous in a place where everyone’s learning how to become assassins,” Wadsworth says.

“I describe him as this damaged puppy, this cute little thing; whenever you try to go down and pet him he may bite you,” he adds.

The series can be quite dark (blood is spilled in the first episode), but Wadsworth says being on set is “so much fun.”

“The cast and I, we’re all one big family.”

He acknowledges just about every actor says that about their co-workers, but “it’s just true. We all love getting together and going out. Every Sunday, the guys and I play Dungeons & Dragons in my apartment.”

The guys are Michel Duval (Queen of the South), Sean Depner (Biff Cosmos), Canadian Liam James (The Killing) and Luke Tennie (Shock and Awe). The cast also includes veteran actor Benedict Wong (Avengers: Infinity War), Lana Condor (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before) and Venezuelan actress Maria Gabriela de Faria.

Speaking of Dungeons & Dragons, Deadly Class is set — like Netflix hit Stranger Things, in whose first season that game figured — in the 1980s: 1987, to be precise.

Wadsworth, the youngest cast member, already liked John Hughes movies and some ’80s music, especially Electric Light Orchestra, but he’s been learning more, particularly from the comic’s writer, Remender, who’s also a co-creator of the series.

“I feel like the comics give a nice vibe to the ’80s, deep in the punk culture,” Wadsworth says.

Asked if he drew on any of his own experiences to play Marcus, Wadsworth says they share “a feeling of isolation” since he was home-schooled for high school.

“Marcus inspired me to start journaling, which I find to be very helpful,” he adds.

“I want to be a virtuous guy like Marcus … He’s not right all the time; he’s a very flawed individual. But whenever it comes to topics about mental health or social cues, wearing masks, I think he has a lot of important things to say.”

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TORONTO STAR

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Benjamin Wadsworth aims to be ‘virtuous’ in first lead role as Marcus on new TV series Deadly Class