In One Year, Ben Rappaport Goes From Kay Jeweler Guy to 'Outsourced' Star
By Nicki Gostin Posted Feb 3rd 2011 11:30AM
The 24-year-old actor talked to PopEater about his pre-'Outsourced' job selling water during Broadway shows, his misspelled ID badge/good luck charm and his hopes to get his singer-actress girlfriend a job on 'Glee.'
You were at Juilliard two years ago, and now you have the lead in a sitcom. Your classmates must be consumed with jealousy.
Nah, in terms of the business, we have a very strong class. A lot of my classmates are doing very well. A buddy of mine is just wrapping up a long stint on 'All My Children.' Another classmate, Monica Raymond, is on 'Lie to Me.' It's a nice support group.
Just a year ago you were probably best known for a Kay Jewelers commercial. Do tell.
In the ad, my girlfriend was deaf and we'd just started dating and my character was bad at sign language. I did two versions. In one I gave her a watch, and in another some earrings. And yes, I sucked at signing.
What other jobs did you have?
I walked up and down the aisles at 'Mamma Mia' selling bottles of water and candy. One time I was working and this older drunk guy turned to me and said, "So are you working your way through college?" And I said, "No, actually I just got out of college," and he said, "Oh, was this your major?" Total jerk. I said, "Yeah, my major was concession management."
Don't you wish you had his number to call him?
I hope some day he turns on the TV and goes, "Hey, that guy looks familiar."
Have you had friends asking to be extras?
Every once in a while, but really it's my family. Like my uncle tells me,''I'll be your gardener," and I'm like, "I don't need a gardener in my one bedroom apartment." But random people from high school have contacted me on Facebook, [saying], "Hey remember me from science class?" It's kind of like, why didn't you e-mail me last year, what's the difference now?
Can you believe you're on a lineup with Tina Fey and Steve Carrell?
It's crazy. I'm not just saying this because I'm on the lineup, but before all of this, the main TV I watched was the Thursday night lineup. So when I got this show and it got picked up and put in that lineup with '30 Rock' and 'The Office,' it was a crazy full circle kind of thing.
Is there an NBC rep standing next to you with a gun to your head right now?
(Laughs) No, I'm in my dressing room at lunchtime.
The first day you started work, did you show your ID a lot to prove you worked at NBC?
Yeah. The funny thing is, they printed my ID badge a couple of days before I started work, and it was misspelled as Ben Pappaport instead of Rappaport. So I went up to this security guard to get it changed and it was this wise old man who had been on the lot for many years. He starts doing it and in the middle he stops and says, "Are you sure you want me to change this back?" I said, "Yeah, why?" He told me that I might be cursing the show if I do that. A lot of people consider it a good luck charm if they have a typo on their badge. So I said, "You know what? Don't do it." So I'm Ben Pappaport of 'Outsourced.'
Hope your checks aren't made out to Ben Pappaport.
(Laughs) No, no, no, it's just the ID badge.
Have you learned about Indian culture doing the show?
Yeah, the whole show is basically my character learning about Indian culture. I've learned, for instance, that personal space is something we Americans take for granted, and I've learned about different holidays and stuff like that.
Do you like Indian food?
I love Indian food. I love spicy food. If I can sweat and eat at the same time I feel like I'm killing two birds with one stone.
So, Mr. Ben Pappaport, are you single or taken?
I actually have a girlfriend. She's in New York, but we go back and forth. She's a musical theater actress. She's trying to get into Broadway and musicals -- not a lot of that out here in LA.
You should be talking to Ryan Murphy ('Glee') to get her a job.
That would be amazing. Hey, Ryan Murphy!
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