Snowpiercer star Iddo Goldberg spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about Bennett ‘Ben’ Knox’s cold war with Mr. Wilford, his relationship with Melanie Cavill, Javi, and had a warm message for his Israeli fans!
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT [NIR REGEV]: In Season 2 Episode 6 (“Miles from Snowpiercer”), Ben is the one that convinces Melanie to pull that lever and go against Mr. Wilford. In a way, he’s really the antagonist and trigger to the whole war. I’m curious on your thoughts about that?
IDDO GOLDBERG: (laughs) I think this was a decision that had to be made. Ultimately Ben is trying to convince her to make the right decision. We just saw what happened to people who tried to board the train.
They were scientists, people that were vital to the journey… And they were gunned down in cold blood.
So they needed to just go. The idea of taking off is about seeing if we can save what’s left of humanity. It was getting impossible to be waiting around.
This was our chance to take the train from the beast that is Wilford. I agree, Ben was a big catalyst… But, you know, Melanie could have said no.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: That is true! On that note, I was still surprised Ben managed to convince Melanie to let go of her daughter Alex for the perceived greater good.
IDDO GOLDBERG: These are scientists but it was a really, really tough scene. I’m really glad that they showed it because I think people needed to see how a mother could ever do that. I think it’s a scenario in which literally it was so many lives against one. And that’s the only thing that could have made sense.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Do you believe Javi was really locked away in a bathroom oblivious to what was going on? Or that he heard the commotion and wanted to avoid being part of it & actively making a decision?
IDDO GOLDBERG: I could see that maybe he could have had a heads-up from Bennett. But you know, maybe not. I think it’s more interesting if Javi didn’t know.
It would explain a lot of his coming to terms with that over the years of them being on the track. It certainly explains Javi’s frustrations in Season 1.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Do you understand Hebrew? I saw you were born in Haifa, so I had to ask as a fellow Israeli!
IDDO GOLDBERG: I thought you were going to open with that! (laughs) Yeah, I was born in Haifa, I lived there until I was 10. But my Hebrew is pretty bad, and I have an accent when I speak it.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I didn’t notice an accent. I’m originally from Kiryat Motzkin, so it’s practically a requirement to ask.
IDDO GOLDBERG: (laughs) Ah, Vitkin St. here!
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: What do you have to say to all the Israeli Snowpiercer fans out there?
IDDO GOLDBERG: Shalom! Thank you so much for watching! It’s incredible that I’m able to do this and to say Toda Raba. Thank you, please keep watching.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I’ve already seen the next two episodes courtesy of TNT. I won’t spoil them of course. I will say that you take a lot of hits. What type of physical combat training did you do for these final Snowpiercer Season 2 episodes and in general?
IDDO GOLDBERG: Typically, Bennett isn’t in the middle of all that stuff. I’m usually at the front looking out for obstacles and things on the track. It was exciting to be able to get physical.
It is from my experience of doing other stuff where you’d need to be physical. It’s just you need to take at least the week before to prepare… At least for me anyway! (smiles) I mean, I try and exercise anyway, cause I feel like we live in a world now where people just exercise, you know?
I always found exercise helped me get out of my head for an hour. So, it was almost like a form of meditation. I’ve always done a bit of exercise but I can go from like a monk to like a terrible specimen kind of thing.
So I have my ups and downs when it comes to kind of keeping healthy. But, with regards to this, I know that I need to at least for a week or as much as I can, stretch as the days leading up to that.
I’m not a spring chicken, I’m 45 now. I don’t bounce as well as I used to! (laughs) But it’s because the first couple of times you do something you’re so excited that you pulled something off and you hit yourself and you’re like, ‘I’m fine. I’m fine.’
And then like an hour later, you’re just walking around going,’ I don’t know how I can continue to do this.’ Cause it’s just, the pain is just insane or you really feel it the next day.
So it’s from experience and you just have to stretch and make sure that you’re ready that day to just keep going. Because there’s people holding heavy cameras, there’s people running around to get this stuff. It’s not just about you. You just have to be ready to bounce back and to go again.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Mr. Wilford has mocked Ben all season about his relationship with Melanie. Would you like a flashback episode similar to the origins of Snowpiercer and Big Alice to show how their whole relationship started?
IDDO GOLDBERG: I think that firstly, Mr Wilford is a psychopath. But he’s incredibly smart and charming. He could be thinking that Bennett was responsible.
Mr. Wilford knows that we stole the train from him. So, he knows that I must be privy to so much of what Melanie says that he isn’t. And I think that eats him up.
But would I like a scene with Sean Bean where we explain this hell? Yeah! So Graham [Manson], if you’re watching, I’d love that!
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: As Mr. Wilford goes, do you think revolutions eventually spiral & crash because people want a return back to ‘regular’ life? That they just tire of the unknown and want to get back to their creature comforts?
IDDO GOLDBERG: Well, they haven’t really known that comfort under Wilford really. Maybe, they’ve known it for a short amount of time. He is so unpredictable and crazy.
The first season was all about a revolution… I think what Melanie realized is towards the end of Season 1 is that there’s a cost to that order.
It’s very similar to our world, there’s so many people suffering for it. I don’t think she deals with that very well. I think any order that we see is always going to be at the cost of suffering for the greater majority.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Did you also get World War II vibes when Mr. Wilford gives the decision to exterminate the scientists? I also got that sense in a certain scene that airs tonight with gas masks.
IDDO GOLDBERG: Yeah… It’s so cold blooded and I think the idea that there’s snow there as well… It’s very reminiscent of those images. But I feel like if anything, it’s a window into who that man is and how unpredictable he is. And what a violent, cold blooded streak he has in him. I mean, he’s a master manipulator.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Ben propagates a lie not once but twice. First with the whole idea of having Melanie impersonate Mr. Wilford in Season 1… Then again in Season 2, asking Ruth Wardell to tell Snowpiercer’s passengers Melanie is okay when they’ve gotten no confirmation that she’s still alive. So obviously Ben does believe in lying for the greater good. I was wondering what you thought about that?
IDDO GOLDBERG: It’s so touch and go because our aim is to go and find Melanie and what we need to do is get to a certain point in time where we have arranged to meet her. The fact that Ben and Javi have lost contact with her… If that gets out, it’s too predictable how people will react.
That lie is also so much about keeping hope alive. Once that hope goes, maybe it’s harder to stand up to the other powers that be.
Especially, Mr.Wilford, he’s probably not going to want to stop for her (Melanie Cavill). I think this is a special circumstance for Alison [Wright] as Ruth. I don’t think it’s an easy decision for anyone.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I find it curious that Mr. Wilford even hired Ben because he seems to hold so much resentment for him in every single scene. Did the hiring come as pure necessity because Ben was one of the world’s top engineers?
IDDO GOLDBERG: That’s the only I can make sense of it. Also don’t forget, when he hired him, Ben and Melanie might have had some knowledge of each other through the science world.
But through out the process of building this thing and realizing this idea, they would have created some form of a relationship where, whether it was friendly or whether it was any kind of romance to it… I feel like there is real community in being in the trenches building stuff and creating things and going over problems and trying to find out why things aren’t working.
I always assumed that would have been very bonding. Like I mentioned before, I think for me, it’s more Mr. Wilford imagining that he’s just not privy to the stuff that we talk about or how open Melanie can be with him.
That’s probably what fuels his mind now. He’s made up his mind of what that is, you know? I think going back to your question about why Mr. Wilford hired him, I have to assume that Ben is just a great engineer and a great scientist who knew what he was doing,
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Going back to the idea of justice for the greater good… Ben overlooks in a way, what happens with Josie Wellstead in that interrogation room. He kind of gives Melanie a pass on it and if it needed to be done, isn’t that similar to Mr. Wilford in a way?
IDDO GOLDBERG: I think that, Ben can’t even begin to imagine what Melanie has had to do during the day before she gets to the engine. In the very first Snowpiercer episode we see Melanie having this crazy day, and then at the end of the day, she walks into the engine and takes over.
I don’t think he would ever pretend to know how hard her job is and how hard it is to balance her moral compass during the day. So, I think there’s probably stuff that he just wouldn’t run interference with, regardless of how he feels about it. Cause I think that there would be too much.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Where would you like to see the character of Ben evolve going forward? I mean, you never really see what Ben truly wants.
He’s essentially on the same wavelength as Melanie but he should have so much leverage because he’s one of the top engineers on the train. Though he does takes situations under his control quite often. You never really see his desires or what he would like to mold Snowpiercer or the world into.
IDDO GOLDBERG: I think that’s a great question. I think that there’s so many cast members on the show. I don’t envy the writers job on a show of this magnitude, with such a large cast size.
I would love to have all of that stuff. But I think going forward on Ben’s character, his own desires & motives, all that you mentioned are the things I would love to know too.
I think we find out a bit more about him in Season 3, from what I’m seeing so far. But yeah, I think that getting hints or his history and hints of, like you said, his desires and what his personal journey or what his own mission is. I would love a window to that stuff. It feels like I’m going to see more of that, but yeah, that’s obviously stuff that I want as an actor.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I interviewed your fellow Snowpiercer co-star Tom Lipinski the other day, and I asked him if he knew that he would be returning to the series. Tom said he didn’t know originally which surprised me. Does the cast take the scripts one day at a time then?
IDDO GOLDBERG: I think that comes from like a contract situation, where you are contracted ahead of time or you’re contracted for all episodes produced or whether you are contracted to have a recurring character on a show. And I think that, when you’re a recurring character, as a performer, you get the freedom to also go and be on other other shows and do other stuff.
But you’re not necessarily as privy to the episodes and the continuation of what you’re doing on the show. And when you are contracted to do all the shows, you don’t have the luxury of going to do something else when you’re not on an episode, cause you have to be there. But you do get to understand, a bit more of how many episodes or I guess the security of knowledge that you’ll be taking part in all the episodes.
So, I think it has more to do with the contracts that you signed.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: What do you think Ben feels about Miss Audrey’s apparent defection?
IDDO GOLDBERG: I think he’s pissed (laughs)! I also don’t think he’s surprised. I think Wilford is a master of manipulation. He’s almost like a Ted Bundy kind of charming character that is so just so evil… What he does to Tom Lipinski’s character (Kevin), the way he treats him…
He is exactly the person that Bennett and Melanie knew couldn’t be in charge of what was left of humanity when Snowpiercer departed the platform. So I don’t think he’s surprised, but yeah, I think he’s pissed.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Why do you think Ben allowed the Tail to exist? He seems like the type that would be completely against the idea of people being kept there.
IDDO GOLDBERG: That’s a good question. I think that it’s probably something that he thinks about. I think maybe order becomes something that’s very attractive to live in.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Like Mr. Wilford?
Well no, Mr. Wilford is very violent with people and he punches people. But it’s very hard for me to make sense of why a character like Ben would want other characters like that to live in those conditions. I don’t even know if I have an answer for you, but I think the only way I can make sense of it is the most important thing is to keep the train moving.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: There was something that stuck with me that Mr Wilford said to Andre Layton about, how he ‘doesn’t even know how to run the train.’ How Layton is not an engineer. I thought about the practicality of that. Is that really the center of the whole struggle?
That at the end of the day, there’s just a practicality to who has the knowledge and who doesn’t to run the train? I mean, that’s why Ben is at the front of the train to begin with instead of the Tail or otherwise.
IDDO GOLDBERG: I like that you picked up on that because there is obviously a value on this journey of technical abilities. The knowledge of science and the engineering skills of these guys who are able to drive the train.
But you know, I don’t think Layton ever wanted to be a politician. I don’t think he ever wanted to be the leader. I know that he just wanted to create Democracy. So, he’s just as valuable if you think about it.
Because without different skillsets, it would just be a train of like three people at the end of it. So we need people like Layton. He’s so, so valuable. That’s what Wilford doesn’t see, perhaps.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I’m curious, how are you recording now with the whole pandemic? Do you have to get tested before shooting? How does it work?
IDDO GOLDBERG:: Oh yeah, there is testing three times a day. So I have a test at 12 o’clock, where they basically will come here. When you’re on set, you get tested on set, but you basically get tested three times a week.
Then there’s zones. So actors that will get beyond stage will be kind of like in a red zone and you’re just wearing masks up until the time where you’re working with each other.
There is safety in taking off the mask and working because everyone’s been tested. But still these are very tricky, working conditions and everyone is dealing with it in their own ways.
Productions have success with it and productions to have to learn lessons with it. So I think everyone’s just getting used to it. But everyone just wants to be safe and everyone wants to work. So we’re doing what we have to do to get it done.
This is Part 1 of of our interview series with Snowpiercer star Iddo Goldberg (Bennett Knox), Part 2 will be published later this week following the broadcast of the Season 2 Finale.
Looking for more Snowpiercer interviews, news, recaps and reviews?
Full Interview Series with Snowpiercer’s Lena Hall:
– Read an in-depth interview with Tom Lipinski on Snowpiercer’s Kevin McMahon!
– Check out our interview with Katie McGuinness on Snowpiercer’s Josie Wellstead!
– Be sure to read our Snowpiercer Season 2 Episode 6 review! Discover the origins of Mr. Wilford and Melanie Cavill’s split leading to Big Alice (and Alex Cavill being onboard). Wilford Industries always has a backup plan… Mr. Wilford never settles for the Tail section, always a first class passenger.
– Watch our NYCC 2019 interview with Jennifer Connelly about the importance taking on every acting challenge with a blank slate. The source material as the ultimate guide in the journey, rather than replicating success in past works. You don’t break box office records without innovation.
– All Snowpiercer recaps, news, interviews, and reviews can be found in the Snowpiercer articles section! Season 3 of the sci-fi TNT series is already confirmed.
– Visit the TV series articles section for more coverage of your favorite TV shows. Science Fiction, Action, Drama, Comedy alike. The works!