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Interview with Tom Bennett

050813-pete-stupples

HBO

Pete and Tom are so different -- what do you think keeps them friends?

Tom Bennett

They became friends at such an early stage of their lives, so there's a sense that there's no escaping each other. There's a love and mutual admiration for one another. Though Tom's been away in Ireland for many years, they're intrinsically linked, an unbreakable bond -- due to a formative story about wetting themselves.

HBO

Do you think Pete might still wet himself on purpose -- just for the sensation?

Bennett

[Laughs] There was one ad-lib where we said upon meeting each other ten years down the line we went out and the very same thing happened. And yes, Pete does still enjoy doing it for the sensation.

HBO

Why does Pete take such an interest in Tom's love life?

Bennett

Pete's a bit of a player - a self-confessed and self-promoted lover man, and whether it's founded in reality is neither here nor there. He wants Tom to have some kind of connection with a female so he sets him up on dates. And with all fairness to Pete, he thinks they're going to be marvelous, 'cause he thinks these girls are fit. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

HBO

Where does he find these women?

Bennett

A few of them come through the zoo. Pete is very good at picking up women at zoos. He'll spot the single, vulnerable women, and make a beeline for them. If they're not his cup of tea, he'll pass them on to Tom. It's not quite sloppy seconds.

HBO

As a Zoological Cage Management Associate, Pete's role in aiding alpaca reproduction must be a big deal for him.

Bennett

Pete is essentially playing God -- he wants to create life where there once was none. Taurus was a lovely, long-haired, brown alpaca, with deep, deep brown eyes. We shared a moment or two on set.

HBO

He helped Taurus out with a saucy alpaca magazine, correct?

Bennett

That's right -- I think it was Alpaca Monthly -- the older edition, but the centerfold still had quite an impact. Pete was showing Taurus the female centerfold. He hoped that would have done it, but it took more coercing and a very sore arm.

HBO

He really had his work cut out for him that day.

Bennett

Pete had to swap arms. It was a lot of work if you know what I mean.

HBO

You say Pete wants to play God -- that's a deeper side of him than we normally get to see.

Bennett

[Laughs] It seems odd mentioning Pete in terms of any deeper thought process, or deeper spirituality. He has no overarching journey -- he's just along for the ride. But we learn that Pete has a yearning for family, because he doesn't know who his dad is. He very much looks forward to becoming a father himself, so helping alpacas reproduce triggers something in his little brain. Pete thinks he would make a good dad, which I think he would to a degree -- he has that childlike enthusiasm that good dads need. You'd just hope the mother was more responsible. And then it would be a very similar balance to what I have with my wife and our four-week-old baby.

HBO

So you see a little bit of Pete in you?

Bennett

Because the show is so heavily improvised, I think the character has to come from some place of reality. I'm not saying I am Pete, but that there's an element of him in me -- a slightly more toned-down, respectable version. You wouldn't want to walk around as Pete every day -- just the outfits alone would get you into all sorts of trouble.

HBO

Speaking of outfits, what was it like to learn that you were going to be one half of a pantomime horse?

Bennett

Great! It's every classically-trained actor's dream to be one half of a pantomime horse. Us Brits -- we're huge fans of pantomime, so it's always been a dream of mine to be the front-end of a pantomime horse.

HBO

Chris O'Dowd said that you're both method actors, so afterwards you went home and spooned.

Bennett

Chris and I spooned most evenings - it had very little to do with the pantomime horse. [Laughs] And cried ourselves to sleep: "Did we do a good job? Were we funny today? Did Chris Guest like it?"

04: Country Life

Season 1

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