NEW YORK — It wasn’t hard for Benjamin Stockham to figure out his role as Marcus, the title character of NBC’s new sitcom “About a Boy.”
“It was pretty obvious from the script that he was kind of a nerd,” said Ben during a recent chat. “Well, not a nerd. Sorry. Kind of an oddity.”
And an interesting oddity, Ben hastened to add: “Part of what makes it so easy to play Marcus is that, as a kid, you might have his same problems: being bullied, being an outsider. But you always have someone there who cares about you.”
On “About a Boy,” airing Tuesday at 9 p.m. Eastern, Marcus is cared about, to excess, by his high-strung, overprotective single mom (Minnie Driver).
Meanwhile, he enlists as surrogate dad his new next-door neighbor, Will (David Walton), a footloose, freewheeling bachelor who is alternately charmed by Marcus’ pluck and annoyed by his frequent, often ill-timed intrusions.
Will knows he must establish some boundaries for Marcus. But Marcus can’t help asking, “Why is hanging out with me any less exciting than hanging out with those women with bathing suits that are wayyyy too small?”
This burgeoning bromance between boy and man is at the series’ heart, raising the question: How does Ben like working with a co-star two decades his senior?
“It’s great!” he replied. “David’s really fun. He has this pen and he flips it around his thumb with one finger. I have no idea how he does that. He also boxes. But not professionally. He’s probably the world’s most interesting guy.”
How does Ben see himself? What’s different about him from the character he plays?
“Other than the devilishly handsome good looks, the charm and the humbleness,” he cracked, “everything!”
Including his advanced years. Ben is baby-faced with a china-doll complexion, and a bit small for 13 and one-half.
“I look maybe 11 or 12,” he readily acknowledged.
This served him well in landing the role of 11-year-old Marcus. But does being a late bloomer ever bug him in his personal life?
“My friends don’t care,” he said. “And if my friends don’t care, I don’t care.”