Move over fall, the holidays are upon us and Cake Wars: Christmas is coming to a TV near you! The über-talented Jonathan Bennett hosts this epic seasonal competition which, lucky for us, premieres tonight, Nov. 9 at 9|8c on the Food Network. In addition to tasting yummy cakes (some full of bacon) and spearheading this sweet six-week competition, Bennett, who STILL looks sexy with his hair pushed back, (yeah, I couldn’t resist) has so much more in store for longtime fans. The 34-year-old actor, best known for his role as highschool hottie Aaron Samuel’s on Mean Girls, has made quite the name for himself as one of Hollywood’s hottest (and hilarious) TV personalities.
While keeping up with his hectic schedule, Bennett was an absolute pleasure and spoke with me about all of the amazing projects he has coming down the pike. Ranging from a Christmas themed show and movie, to a teen drama on MTV, even an action-packed thriller that will blow your mind after you’ve stuffed your face with Turkey (or Tofurkey) this Thanksgiving. He even gushed about his time on Dancing with the Stars and told me which Mean Girls co-star he thought would make the perfect contestant on the ABC celebrity dance competition.
There’s nothing this guy can’t do, seriously, he takes the term ‘host’ to a whole new level, and even offered up his home for the filming of his new film Modern Love, which also stars Anthony Rapp, Alyson Hannigan and Thomas Dekker. The dude was a trooper and totally entertained me and my (I’m sure repetitive) questions regarding the cultural icon that is Aaron Samuels.
How grool of him…
MCKENZIE MORRELL: To kind of get started, let’s talk about your upcoming hosting gig on “Cake Wars: Christmas” and “Christmas Cookie Challenge” (Nov. 9 & 28). What made you say yes when you got asked to do this show?
JONATHAN BENNETT: When I got asked to do Cake Wars, I was just excited to be able to go and do something and be myself instead of having to be a character. I thought that was fun, something different.
MM: Yeah, that must be fun to just be able to be yourself. And now, if you had to pick one flavor cake to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
JB: That’s a hard question! I think it would be one of the crazy cakes that they put bacon in on our show because even though people wouldn’t think that’s good, bacon in a cake is delicious.
MM: Bacon in anything is delicious.
JB: Yeah, absolutely! Absolutely.
MM: [laughs] That’s awesome. And now, can you tell us anything about your upcoming arc on MTV’s Awkward, like who you’re playing and anything like that?
JB: Yeah, I play Jenna’s [Ashley Rickards] new boss on the show. She goes off to an internship and I play her boss at her new job. And I play a really wacky, over-the-top, elaborate character, so it’s really fun to get to go on there and play something that no one’s seen me play before.
MM: We’re looking forward to that! Now, do we have any air dates on when that’s going to happen or should we just keep tuning in and you’ll pop up?
JB: I know I’m in the second half of the season. I have like eight episodes.
MM: That’s exciting!
JB: Yeah, so I think it’ll be at the beginning of the year.
MM: We can’t wait for that! And now, obviously, in addition to acting, you also produce. How is that transition and do you prefer one over the other?
JB: I definitely like to act over produce, I think. I love producing, it’s a lot of fun, but the reason I act is because I like entertaining people and I like getting a reaction out of people. And producing doesn’t really fit that as well as acting does. You know, you don’t get the immediate gratification of that.
MM: No, definitely not. And now, I’m sure you’re often asked about your time spent on Mean Girls and life after Aaron Samuels. Are you ever like, “Hmm, today I’d rather not get told my hair looks sexy pushed back”? [laughs]
JB: There’s been a couple times where I maybe felt that. But for the most part, the fact that people still care about our little movie that we did over 10 years ago and that people still quote it and it’s become part of pop culture conversation — it’s become part of pop culture language, you know, people use Mean Girls quotes in their everyday speaking — it’s so flattering and awesome that we get to do all of that.
MM: And now, do any of your friends in real life quote Mean Girls just to kind of stick it to you?
JB: No, they don’t. That’s the funny part. Everyone else does, but none of my immediate friends do, which I think is really interesting. And either that’s because [laughs] they A.) Maybe don’t like the movie or B.) Maybe they haven’t seen it. [laughs]
MM: [laughs] What’s the strangest fan encounter you’ve ever had? I mean, it can be in person or on social media.
JB: There’s a person on Twitter, and I don’t know what their handle is, but there’s a person on Twitter that always wants to know if I’m ticklish and I think that is so bizarre because I am very ticklish, but that’s weird that you’d want to know that. [laughs]
MM: Right? It’s like they’re saving it for later so if they meet you, they’re just going to tickle you. [laughs]
JB: Yeah, like am I going to get kidnapped and tickled or something?
MM: [laughs] And now, we obviously have to chat about Dancing With The Stars. What was the most important thing that you took away from that and would you ever do it again?
JB: Dancing With The Stars was such a great experience and I’m so happy I did it. I don’t know if I would do it again; I think once is enough for anyone. I mean, the girl on this season [Kim Zolciak] had a stroke for God’s sake. So I mean, that just goes to show that it’s definitely an intense experience and really, really, really hard. But I’m really happy that I did it because I made such great friends with Allison Holker and Peta [Murgatroyd] and Val [Chmerkovskiy] and the whole gang. I got to meet some really great people.
MM: That’s so great to hear! If there were any celebrities that you’d want to see on Dancing With The Stars, who would it be?
JB: Oh wow, who would it be? I’m trying to think. I mean, I think [Lindsay] Lohan should do Dancing With The Stars.
MM: Oh, that would be really interesting!
JB: Yeah, because I think she has somewhat of a dance background and so I think she would be really good on Dancing With The Stars.
MM: Well, we’ll put it out there and maybe someone will take note. [laughs]
JB: Yeah! Maybe they’ll hear my call.
MM: Right. And now, what are some shows you’re currently watching that you’re really loving?
JB: Gosh, there’s so many good ones. I mean, I’m obsessed with Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer. You know, I think that’s one of the funniest shows on television. I also think the new Netflix series Narcos is so intense and really, really something fresh and new that we haven’t seen in a long time.
MM: That’s great, yeah. And are you like a binge watcher or do you like…?
JB: I binge watch. I’m a total binge watcher. Here’s the thing: I have such ADD and I’m so hyper and I have such a short attention span that if I am into a show, I will sit there and watch all of them at the same time. But if I’m not into it, I can’t watch more than maybe half an episode. So the fact that I’ve watched almost all of Narcos already because it’s so suspenseful really shows that that show is really good and grabs my attention.
MM: I’ll have to put that on my list. I haven’t gotten a chance to take a look at it yet.
JB: You haven’t seen it yet? It’s so good!
MM: No, I need to see it.
JB: One of my favorite parts of Narcos is that they use the old footage, the real footage from the 70s and early 80s, and they use that footage in the show combined with the acting.
MM: Oh, wow!
JB: Yeah, so it’s really interesting.
MM: It seems like it’s going to be awesome, so I will definitely put that on my list. Now, kind of like a random question: Growing up, did you ever have a job that you just really hated or was so awful?
JB: Yes, I was a golf caddy for one day.
MM: For one day?
JB: Yes, my mom bugged me to get a job being a caddy at the local country club, and I’m so hyper and obnoxious, so picture me at like 14 years old on a golf course carrying someone else’s bag. Not a good combination.
MM: No. [laughs]
JB: So after about three or four holes of playing and carrying this guy’s bag, he asked me to go get him a water and that’s when I was like, “Nope” and just set the bag down right there, walked off the course and quit. So I worked for not even a full day, just like one hour.
MM: Oh my gosh, that must be a record!
MM: Halloween just happened and I saw that you were fiending for the songs from Hocus Pocus. Did you ever get your hands on them?
JB: No! The song from Hocus Pocus is impossible to find on anything.
MM: Oh no, we need it! I don’t know why they didn’t release it.
JB: I know.
MM: And now, are there any shows that have ended that you wish would have gotten a second life? Perhaps on another network or a reboot?
JB: I mean, The Comeback. I could never get enough of The Comeback. The Comeback is my all-time favorite comedy because I’ve worked with so many of those actresses that Lisa Kudrow played in that it’s just so smart and so brilliant and so real, and actually is how some of these actresses are that I’ve worked with in Hollywood.
MM: Oh wow.
JB: It’s real, yeah. All of her mannerisms.
MM: And now, I heard that you recently shot a movie in your house called Modern Love?
JB: Yeah, Modern Love is a movie about two guys that are engaged and it’s about their wedding night. What’s so great about it is that it’s me and Anthony Rapp and Alyson Hannigan, and what’s so awesome about it is that we shot the gay marriage scene on the day marriage was legalized. It just so happened to happen that way and so it’s such a beautiful story. And it’s not a movie about gay marriage or a gay movie; it’s a movie about marriage and love. It just so happens that it’s two men, which is what I think is so interesting about the movie.
MM: Oh, that’s great! When can we expect that? Is there any date?
JB: That will be coming out, I have no idea. But Submerged (Nov. 27th) is going to be the big one. That comes out the day after Thanksgiving from IFC Films and it’s the story about five people in the back of a limousine that crashes into the ocean and water starts coming in and they have to get out of the limo.
MM: I saw the trailer. It looks super action-packed.
JB: Oh, it’s so awesome. So that’s coming out the day after Thanksgiving, which is going to be great.
MM: That’s awesome, the day after my birthday.
JB: Oh yeah? And then in November, on UPtv and On Demand, A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale (Nov. 15th), comes out, which is a romantic comedy about me as a dogwalker trying to find love around the holidays. It’s hysterical and it’s funny because the dogs are so cute. Yeah, it’s really cute and really adorable.
MM: Well, we’re looking forward to it! You seem like you have a lot coming up and I wanted to thank you, because I know you’re rushing around, for chatting with me!
JB: No problem!
Ask him if he’s ticklish on Twitter @j_benntt