If you didn’t love Kristoffer Polaha as Baze on “Life Unexpected,” you are probably either a robot or a sociopath, and we recommend you get that checked out. Now, after a season on “Ringer” as troubled writer Henry, Polaha is taking a decidedly more comedic turn with a guest arc on MTV’s underrated gem “Awkward.” Given our “Life Unexpected” obsession, Zap2it jumped at the chance to visit Polaha and the “Awkward” set on location at a country club while they shot wedding scenes from tonight’s jaw-dropping episode.
Yes — Aunt Ally is getting married tonight, and if you thought that particular wedding was going to go off without a hitch, you obviously need to re-watch Season 1. Lacey (Nikki Deloach) is disappointed to learn that her estranged husband, Kevin, won’t be attending the wedding… but her bummer mood takes a major turn when Ally tells her that her other high school sweetheart, Ben, will be at the wedding.
It becomes quickly apparent that Ben was Lacey’s version of Matty McKibben — a tall, handsome dreamboat who let her go… right into the arms of Kevin. It’s a reunion for the characters and the actors, as Polaha and Deloach worked together on FOX’s short-lived “North Shore.”
“Nikki DeLoach is the sole reason, initially, why I came back,” Polaha says. “And then I got a hold of Season 1 of ‘Awkward’ — and it’s a really great show! It’s one of those cool things to have on your resume. It’s like when I did ‘Mad Men,’ I didn’t do a lot, but just being a part of the show was fun.”
Polaha was easily swayed to join the show when creator Lauren Iungerich approached him at an agency party and told him that she had a theory that Baze was the best-written male character on television. “And I agree with it. So she was a huge fan of Baze, and was like ‘You have to come on my show.’ Cut to four months later, she brought me in. It’s like a little milestone in the career.”
“We were bombarding
him and his agency,” Deloach interrupts, laughing. “We pretty much held him hostage. He’s been so
lovely, and he’s been such a valuable and amazing asset to the entire
cast and crew. We’ve had so much fun.”
In Thursday’s episode, Jenna sees the emotional effect that Ben’s return has on Lacey, and she begins to fear that her parents’ marriage might not be salvageable. Let’s just say that Ben doesn’t exactly do much to ease her worries, either. He’s definitely looking to win Lacey’s affection. “There’s a moment where Ben has a window of opportunity, so he strikes,” Polaha confirms. “Ben’s lurking. Ben’s this lurker.”
By the way, fans, Ben is definitely more of a Baze than a Henry, if you know what we’re saying. “He’s Baze rebooted. Although, I’m in a suit the whole time, and Baze — I had to wear a suit once on ‘Life Unexpected,’ and I was so uncomfortable,” he recalls. “So this guy, he has to be a little more groomed. He’s sort of like a hybrid of JFK Jr. and Baze.”
Sounds hot, right? Lacey thinks so, too. “He throws a wrench into all the relationship for the episodes that he’s here,” Deloach says. “Ben is basically a blast from Lacey’s past that comes into an episode that stirs up a lot of emotions, not just for Lacey, but for Jenna and for everyone involved.”
As Ben makes his move, Kevin is nowhere to be found. “I hogtied him. I physically hogtied him. In a meatlocker,” Polaha teases.
“This is our version of Season 2 of ‘Friday Night Lights’,” Deloach jokes. “There was only one moment in that entire series where the train just went off the tracks, and that was it. That’s gonna be this for ‘Awkward’.”
In all seriousness, though, Ben’s reappearance is part of a powerful storyline for Jenna and Lacey this season as we delve into Lacey’s past and discover just why she’s as damaged and flawed as she is. “You will actually get to see a little hint into why Lacey is the way that she is, and how her past and her relationship with her mother has spun this cycle that Lacey’s hoping to break. She’s going to try really hard,” Deloach says. “Can Lacey break that cycle and become the mother that she always wanted to be? Can Jenna forgive her mother for all of her missteps, and realize that her mother loves her really for exactly who she is? I think that every single teenage girl, or even a girl in her 30’s — I’m still dealing with it — that’s something that everyone can relate to. It’s a very, very special storyline for ‘Awkward.'”
Tune in tonight, Thursday August 9, at 10:30 p.m. EST for Polaha’s first episode.