'1600 Penn' Star Benjamin Stockham Talks Playing Bill Pullman's Son (Q&A)

The 12-year-old actor tells THR about his love of "Independence Day" and getting comedy advice from co-star Jenna Elfman.
Kenneth Dolin

Benjamin Stockham is headed to the White House when NBC’s 1600 Penn slides into its regular Thursday lineup spot next week. The 12-year-old actor plays Xander Gilchrist, one of the four children of the U.S. president, played by Bill Pullman.

The show, which also stars Josh Gad (The Book of Mormonand Jenna Elfman, bowed in a sneak peak last month and will air its second episode Jan. 10. The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Goodman gave the show's first episodes a strong review, writing its second and third outings are even funnier than the series premiere.

TV REVIEW: 1600 Penn

Stockham spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about his budding career, his love of Pullman’s Independence Day and getting comedy tips from Elfman.

The Hollywood Reporter: How did you get your roll in 1600 Penn?

Benjamin Stockham: I was walking into an audition room with people towering over me. I was the shortest one there and I thought, “This isn’t going to work out,” but I got a call back.

THR: What do your friends and family think of you being on the show?

Stockham: They are all really excited for me. We were at Universal Studios, and they were like, “Ben you’re on a poster!”

THR: How do you balance working with being a kid and doing normal stuff?

PHOTOS: '1600 Penn' Set Visit: Hollywood's Version of the White House

Stockham: Usually after I’m done with working, I just come home and play a little game and go to bed. After work, I have a lot time to do a lot of stuff. I think I’ve got a good balance of work and play.

THR: What do you like to do in your downtime?

Stockham: Sometimes I like to draw. Sometimes I ride my scooter.

THR: What is your favorite subject in school?

Stockham: Probably math. I know a lot of people wouldn’t say that -- they’d say art. But art is definitely a close second.

THR: Had you seen any projects from your 1600 Penn co-stars before you started working with them?

Stockham: For Bill Pullman, – obviously Independence Day. Aliens, man. And he played the president, too. I actually just watched it pretty recently, and it was awesome.

PHOTOS: 22 of Hollywood's Best Presidents in Movies and TV

THR: Have your co-stars given you any acting advice?

Stockham: Jenna gives me helpful advice about comedic timing, and I just learn from Josh by watching.

THR: When did you figure out you had a talent for acting?

Stockham: I don’t really think that I’m that amazing, but everyone says, “Man, you’re so good.” I guess other people’s compliments motivate you.

THR: How did you end up moving to Los Angeles?

Stockham: I started out in San Diego and then got a TV series called Sons of Tucson [on Fox], and we thought it was ridiculous to drive.

THR: Is being the youngest castmember intimidating?

Stockham: Me and Amara [Miller] are the same age. They're all really nice. It’s not intimidating. It’s exciting.

1600 Penn airs Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on NBC beginning Jan. 10.