This Is Us’ Sam Trammell (Bandleader Ben): I ‘Completely Understand’ Why People Think I’m the New Villain

Miguel, who? The February 7 episode of This Is Us introduced a new villain to the Pearson family: bandleader Ben, played by Sam Trammell.

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While fans are certainly still not happy with Miguel (Jon Huertas), who announced his divorce on the most recent episode, Trammell’s character will be absorbing some of the disdain typically directed at Rebecca Pearson’s (Mandy Moore) second husband. At the end of last week’s installment, Ben encouraged Rebecca to join him on tour and inadvertently criticized her husband, Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), in the process, claiming that if he really loved her, he’d allow her to tour.

Mandy Moore as Rebecca and Milo Ventimiglia as Jack in This Is Us.
Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia ‘This Is Us.’ Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

“I completely understand, people!” Trammell exclusively tells Us Weekly. “I figured maybe I would take a little heat off Miguel. I totally would get if people are unsure about my character because Jack is such an incredible husband and dad, the bar is so high, that yeah, anybody messing with that, I figure, is going to possibly get the ire of a lot of the audience.”

In fact, Trammell has already ignited criticism during daddy drop-off with his 5-year-old son twins, Gus and Winston.

“At school one of the parents came up to me and said, ‘You know, I don’t know what’s going on with your character, Sam, but this could ruin our relationship,’” he laughs. “One of the dads told me that! I had no idea he was watching the show.”

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The 48-year-old actor, who admits he is still getting to know his character on the NBC drama, does think he means no harm.

“This guy is putting his foot in his mouth. He just says the wrong things, it seems like. I don’t think he meant that as a dig at all, but obviously it was not the right thing to say,” he says of Sam’s quip about Jack. “He wants the band to do well and he doesn’t have a family, I don’t think, so he doesn’t understand. He doesn’t get how important those two are, how important their presence to each other is, and they have the kids and the audience sees all these details and falls in love with the family — and rightly so, and they should — but yeah, this guy, he just doesn’t know what their life is. He’s just a guy who is about the band.”

Sam Trammell attends the Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2017 opening night at Barker Hangar on January 26, 2017 in Santa Monica, California.
Sam Trammell at the Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2017 opening night at Barker Hangar on Jan. 26, 2017, in Santa Monica. Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for ALAC

And being about the band has been a fun learning experience for Trammell. While he played music before the show, he didn’t sing, which almost kept him from the role. Fortunately, executive producer Ken Olin encouraged Trammell to give the role a shot and he quickly signed up for singing lessons.

The day Trammell recorded his vocals, however, ended up being more nerve-racking than expected, given that he followed Moore in the studio.

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“I just watched her sing and she just destroyed it, she was so good,” the actor says. “And I thought, Oh, my gosh, what have I gotten myself into? And she came out and I was like, ‘You can go, Mandy. You don’t have to wait for me.’ And she was like, ‘No, no, I’ve got time. I’m just going to watch you for a little bit.’ And I was like, Oh, my God. But then I went in and thankfully these lessons paid off and I was able to do it. It was just so fun and really cool to sing with Mandy, who is a legitimate successful music artist.”

This Is Us airs on NBC Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET.

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