Ben Milliken on producing, reincarnation and ‘Mighty Oak’

Photo credit: Chris Patey

Ben Milliken plays the delightful Darby, the drummer for Army of Love in Mighty Oak. He also stepped in an executive producer role for the film. Oh! and fun fact, every hat Darby wears is awesome and Ben actually added that in himself- all of the hats he wears were his own.

“I read the script, and it was a pretty special script and the character (Darby) resonated with me at that stage in my life. I had just come off doing the show Bosch where I played the bad guy. And I really wanted to explore a character that was fun and means well and has a really good heart. That’s what I wanted to explore right now with this character and this project. I read the role of Darby and was like ‘that’s him. Let’s go.’ Plus it has so much hope. And it’s about family, and connecting with people and bringing people together and I feel like the world needs some of that. Especially now.”

Mighty Oak is about music manager Gina Jackson (Janel Parrish), whose life is shattered when her brother and Army of Love lead vocalist, Vaughn (Levi Dylan), is killed in a tragic accident. Ten years later, a young guitar prodigy Oak Scoggins (Tommy Ragen) enters her orbit and she becomes convinced that he is the reincarnation of Vaughn, but is he?

Photo credit: Chris Patey

Mighty Oak definitely poses the question- do you believe in reincarnation?

“I think it leaves the question open which I like about it because no matter what your beliefs on that is, it just asked the question. It doesn’t give you an answer. It just invites you to explore the possibility and I appreciate that. To tell you the truth, I don’t know [if I believe in reincarnation]. Because I definitely know for a fact that there is far more out there than we can ever see or perceive. There’s a world and the universe that is way bigger than us and I think that we’ll never really know the answer to that.”

Does Darby believe in it?

“I had made the choice throughout shooting the movie that Darby was kind of the only one who was open minded enough to say ‘hey, this could be real.’ I guess that comes from my own personal philosophy. It’s not an experience or I’ve had so how do I actually know? You can’t be so close minded, to a point, to judge someone else’s experience. So, how do I know? It could be real and if it’s not, it’s a huge coincidence. So I think that Darby is open to the possibility that it could be real. And I also think that he was just having way too much fun with having the band back together. Because at the end of the day, all Darby wanted to do was play music with this group of people. And if that meant having a 10-year-old as your front man to be able to play their old songs again, then he was in.”

That vibe definitely came through on screen. Ben said the chemistry seen in the movie was real. They all got along so well. But out of all of the musicians, Tommy Ragen’s skills were by far superior.  

“The only one who really knew what they were doing was Tommy, who plays Oak. That’s really him playing. This boy’s a genius. He is a prodigy and he made us all feel worthless. Like what have I been doing with my life. You know in the 30s and there’s this guy’s releasing albums and he’s what, 12? He’s an extremely talented kid. He’s got a very bright future,” Ben joked. “But seriously, they’re all such great people. We all really got along so well. We just instantly vibed all of us and we knew from the moment we first sat down, we knew it was just gonna be a good time. So, all of the chemistry seen between the cast, that was all real. We were all just there hanging out. It was constant laughter.”

Photo credit: Chris Patey

Ben plays a convincing drummer on screen, but he’s got a talent for the guitar. He got his first guitar when he was about eight or nine. 

“I dabbled in drums. I’m actually a guitarist, but I can hold a beat. The music was pre recorded so I guess I can kind of maybe pull off a movie screen drummer. But if you had to listen to me, you wouldn’t really be ‘oh, he’s a drummer.’ I can hold a beat if it doesn’t get too complicated. I would say I play guitar, but I’m not a musician, if that makes sense.”

In addition to acting in this film, Ben put on another awesome but metaphorical hat and stepped into an executive producer role.

“I didn’t get into that position until after we had finished filming. So, I was lucky in the sense that I didn’t have to wear two hats at once. But after we had finished shooting, I had become close with the producers and staff and we were at a point where we had finished the film, and we were talking and I said I believe I can be of some help here in the back end of it. So, I was brought on as executive producer on the project and it was great.”

“I love the idea of creating material and taking a project from an idea to a finished film. But acting is my first love, that’s always what I’m going to put first. But to be in a position where I’m able to produce my own projects and tell great stories, is, I mean that’s why I’m in this industry, that’s why I’m in this business. And I’ll be doing both, I’ll be producing and acting as much as I possibly can.”

Ben’s next project is still under wraps but hopefully we’ll hear word of it soon.

“I do have something in the works that I’m so excited about. I can’t talk too much about it at this point but you know what I can say that it’s a role that I have been so excited to play and dig into. I’m really excited about this project, super passionate about it. Hopefully we’re gonna get cleared to shoot it early next year.”

You can follow Ben Milliken on social media with his handle @benmillitweets on Twitter or ben.milliken on Instagram.

Mighty Oak is available now on Amazon.