When young Tariq (Benjamin Charles Watson) was first introduced in The L.A. Complex, it seemed like this town of Los Angeles might eat the innocent Canadian boy alive. After he sent his beat off to Drake– with another man’s name stamped on the track– he may have managed to keep his internship, but he certainly didn’t have anyone acknowledging, let alone congratulating him on, his talent. But then Kaldrick King (Andra Fuller) entered the picture and things really heated up for Tariq– both professionally and personally. We caught up with Watson just before he began filming the next batch of The L.A. Complex episodes to have him weigh in on Tariq’s relationship and ability to make it in the music industry.
LA TV Insider Examiner: Take us back to when you first read the pilot for The L.A. Complex. How much did you know about where Tariq’s storyline was going to go and what about it grabbed your interest as an actor vying for the role?
Benjamin Charles Watson: [Tariq]’s having success in his life, but he’s missing that one element that they all need– no matter how much they may say they don’t, they all need it– and that’s love. And once he fell in love with Kal and he wanted that love so much, I was like ‘Holy snap, this would be so interesting to play, and it’s so vital to the story.’ That completely sold me for Tariq.
I knew what happened in the second script for the second episode. I knew what happened at the end of the show, and I was like ‘Holy snap, this is going to be pretty interesting! Especially if we cross over to the U.S.’ My mouth actually dropped, and…that’s another reason I fell in love with Tariq. I just knew we had to tell this story, and I was like ‘I hope to God I can tell this story properly.’
It is such a unique relationship and not one we’ve really ever seen on television before. You mentioned that Tariq really did fall in love with Kal, but how much do you think Tariq really understands where Kal is coming from with some of his bad behavior and wanting to keep everything so secret?
B.C.W.: Tariq sees that Kal puts on this tough persona, and Tariq understands that he has to [do so] for the outside world, but realistically he’s not this tough guy. He’s a really sweet, down-to-Earth guy who’s never really loved anyone or never had the experience to be himself in front of anyone, and Tariq finds that in Kal, and it’s just an epic moment.
Do you feel they are one hundred percent real with each other when they are alone together, or do you foresee some things to still come out about both of them?
B.C.W.: I think after spending a lot of time alone with Kal, Tariq feels like he knows him entirely, to be honest. You know, at the end of episode six, it gets ridiculous and controversial in the sense that it shouldn’t have happened. They talk about ‘Nothing in the work place, yada yada yada’ so the only option was for that to happen in episode six.
Obviously we don’t want to spoil what happens at the end of episode six for the fans who have yet to see it, but it could, and probably should, be a relationship-changer for Tariq and Kal. What do you hope is Tariq’s next step, in the next thirteen episodes?
B.C.W.: I want to say I hope Tariq doesn’t go back to him, but like I said before, it’s a very, very tough call. I want to see some sort of resolution between these two. I don’t think they can get back together…I don’t think Tariq is that kind of person to go back to that.
And switching gears to talk about the Hollywood angle of the show, you guys really hit a lot of nerves for those who are struggling to make it in this town and this industry, and the events and experiences depicted are extremely relatable. Was there one moment that really stuck out for you as something you went through firsthand?
B.C.W.: Yeah, there was a time in the pilot where Tariq was just begging for a chance to just help Dynasty out with his music, for a chance, for an opportunity, and this was the way I always went into auditions– going in there and pleading for a job. I’ve done that, and I’ve been like ‘Oh crap, that’s not going to work.’ You can’t go in there and beg for a job; you need to go into that audition and be super confident, as much as you possibly can, and if they give you the job, great, if not, oh well, onto the next one. But there’s also another thing in that Tariq goes behind Dynasty’s back and sends one of his beats over to Drake and amazing things happen. I’ve done that sort of thing also– not necessarily going behind somebody’s back, but I’ve done things to further, to get to where I need to be.
Do you see that moment– when he puts Dynasty’s name on his own work– as something that come back to bite him because ultimately he gave somebody else his music? People still don’t really know what he can do.
B.C.W.: I think it’s a huge possibility it could come back to bite him in the ass! I mean, he broke off and created his own path, and there [are] great things that can happen when you create your own path, but if you don’t live up to everything, Dynasty could literally destroy his career.
All of the characters on The L.A. Complex really seem like they’re on the edge of something great, but there are a ton of people in L.A. who are really talented and deserve to break and do amazing things, and then there are a lot of people who are dreamers but they may not be that good, and that may be why they haven’t hit yet. Which category do you think Tariq falls into at this point in the story?
B.C.W.: I kind of think Tariq still has some growing to do. I want to say he has some talent, and he’s on the road to where he needs to go, but he has to grow up just a little bit more, for sure.
The L.A. Complex airs on The CW on Tuesday nights at 9pm.
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