Ben Feldman on 'Superstore,' working with America Ferrera and his 'Mad Men' exit

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Why Actor Ben Feldman Thinks Drama And Comedy Are Equally Challenging

BY: GIBSON JOHNS

Chances are, you've seen Ben Feldman's work; between "Mad Men," "Cloverfield," "The Perfect Man" and, now, "Superstore," he's one of those actors that isn't instantly recognized for one specific role because he can -- and has -- done it all.

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Whether it's comedy or drama, TV or film, Feldman has shown a knack for being a standout character on each and every project he chooses to appear in. The 35-year-old actor says that he's more comfortable being "the sort of funny guy on a drama" than the lead in a comedy, but after watching the first few episodes of his new NBC sitcom "Superstore," it's clear that Feldman can be the frontman.

In an exclusive sit-down interview with AOL, Feldman talked about his new gig, bringing "Mad Men" to an end and why America Ferrera "should" be obnoxious (but totally isn't!).

Check out our full conversation with Ben Feldman below:

What attracted you to "Superstore?"

Nothing. [Laughs] Kind of in a way, nothing, actually: I didn't want to be on a sitcom. And certainly not on NBC -- nothing against them but I had just been down that road months before this [Feldman's previous sitcom, "A to Z," was cancelled by NBC after 13 episodes in 2015.]. I also don't see myself as 'the funny one' -- I'm usually the least funny one in a cast of funny people. I'm better at being the sort of funny guy on a drama. But my agent called and said, "There's a comedy you should do, and you're going to like it." And she was right.

It seems as though the show has garnered some really positive reception. Are you happy with how "Superstore" has been received?

I am! In today's television climate, where you're lucky even if your family watches it -- and watches it live -- it's crazy that people have been digging it and watching it. People have come up to me so much on the street and told me that they've loved "Superstore," which means a lot.

See photos of Ben Feldman through the years:

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Ben Feldman on 'Superstore,' working with America Ferrera and his 'Mad Men' exit
Ben Feldman during Teen Vogue Young Hollywood Party - Arrivals at Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by J. Vespa/WireImage for Teen Vogue)
Ben Feldman ath the iRiver gift station during Lucky/Cargo Club - Day 1 at Ritz Carlton in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jemal Countess/WireImage for Fingerprint Communications)
HOLLYWOOD - JUNE 13: Actress Heather Locklear and actor Ben Feldman arrive at the premiere of 'The Perfect Man' at Universal Studios Cinema on June 13, 2005 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JUNE 13: Actors Ben Feldman (L) and Hilary Duff talk at the afterparty for the premiere of Universal Picture's 'The Perfect Man' at the Hard Rock Cafe on June 13, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Ben Feldman during Teen People Celebrates 2nd Annual Young Hollywood Issue Sponsored by EA Games and Baby Phat - Arrivals at Cabana Club in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 20: Actress Fran Drescher (L) and actor Ben Feldman attend Rosie O'Donnell's opening night performance of 'Fiddler on the Roof' at Minskoff Theater on September 20, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
Ben Feldman during Rasher Exhibit in Hollywood - March 16, 2006 at Penthouse @ Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, CA. (Photo by Jesse Grant/WireImage for PMK/HBH)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 01: Actor Ben Feldman arrives at the premiere of 'When Do We Eat?' at the Writers Guild of America on April 1, 2006 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - MAY 15: Actor Ben Feldman attends the Artists in Support of 'A Climb Against The Odds' to raise money for the Breast Cancer Fund at the V Lounge May 15, 2008 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by John M. Heller/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 07: Actor Ben Feldman arrives at the 'Drop Dead Diva: Season One Finale held at the Paley Center for Media on October 7, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Actor Ben Feldman attends a screening of 'Drop Dead Diva' at the 29th annual Gay & Lesbian Film Festival at Directors Guild Of America on July 17, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 19: Ben Feldman attends the 'Clybourne Park' Broadway opening night at Walter Kerr Theatre on April 19, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 09: Actor Ben Feldman attends the 11th Annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball on June 9, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - AUGUST 20: Actor Ben Feldman attends The Academy Of Television Arts & Sciences' performers peer group cocktail reception held at the Sheraton Hotel on August 20, 2012 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: Ben Feldman (L) and guest attend the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards Performers Nominee reception held at Spectra by Wolfgang Puck at the Pacific Design Center on September 21, 2012 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Ben Feldman (R) attends the BAFTA LA TV Tea 2012 presented by BBC America at The London Hotel on September 22, 2012 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/BAFTA Tea 2012/Getty Images for BAFTA)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 23: Actor Ben Feldman arrives at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on September 23, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 13: Actor Ben Feldman (L) and guest arrive at the GQ Men of the Year Party at Chateau Marmont on November 13, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Vespa/Getty Images For GQ)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 27: Actor Ben Feldman arrives at the19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at The Shrine Auditorium on January 27, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Vespa/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - APRIL 30: Actor Ben Feldman poses on the red carpet at Scleroderma Research Foundation's Cool Comedy - Hot Cuisine at Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel on April 30, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Bezjian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JULY 25: Actor Ben Feldman attends the AMC's New Series 'Low Winter Sun' Los Angeles premiere held at ArcLight Hollywood on July 25, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Actor Ben Feldman attends Vanity Fair and Maybelline toast to 'Mad Men' at Chateau Marmont on September 20, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Vespa/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Actor Ben Feldman (L) and Michelle Mulitz arrive at the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on September 22, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Vespa/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 07: Actor Ben Feldman attends the after party for the Ermenegildo Zegna Eminences Grises unveiling hosted by Gildo Zegna and Stefano Pilati at JF Chen on November 7, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images for Ermenegildo Zegna)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 02: Actor Ben Feldman attends the AMC celebration of the 'Mad Men' season 7 premiere at ArcLight Cinemas on April 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
NBCUNIVERSAL EVENTS -- 2014 NBC Upfront Presentation -- Red Carpet -- Pictured: Ben Feldman 'A to Z' -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 07: Actor Ben Feldman attends the 13th Annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball at a private Mandeville Canyon Estate on June 7, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JULY 13: (L-R) NBC's 'A to Z' actors Ben Feldman and Cristin Milioti pose for a portrait during the NBCUniversal Press Tour at the Beverly Hilton on July 13, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.(Photo by Christopher Polk/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images) NUP_164677_0433.JPG
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 23: Ben Feldman and Michelle Mulitz attend the 2014 Entertainment Weekly Pre-Emmy Party at Fig & Olive Melrose Place on August 23, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by C Flanigan/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: 66th ANNUAL PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS -- Pictured: (l-r) Actors Ben Feldman and Michelle Mulitz arrive to the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Nokia Theater on August 25, 2014. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/NBC/NBC via Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Actor Ben Feldman attends the NBC & Vanity Fair 2014 - 2015 TV season event at HYDE Sunset: Kitchen + Cocktails on September 16, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: Actor Ben Feldman visits SiriusXM Studios on November 10, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images)
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 124 -- Pictured: Actor Ben Feldman during an interview on November 10, 2014 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 04: Actor Ben Feldman attends the 2014 GQ Men Of The Year party at Chateau Marmont on December 4, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for GQ)
SUPERSTORE -- 'Pilot' -- Pictured: Ben Feldman as Jonah -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SUPERSTORE -- 'Pilot' -- Pictured: (l-r) Colton Dunn as Garrett, Ben Feldman as Jonah, America Ferrera as Amy, Nichole Bloom as Cheyenne -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NBCUNIVERSAL EVENTS -- 2015 NBC Upfront Presentation -- Red Carpet Arrivals -- Pictured: (l-r) American Ferrera, Ben Feldman 'Superstore' -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JUNE 05: Ben Feldman arrives for the 'Cool Comedy - Hot Cuisine' benefit for the Scleroderma Research Foundation at Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel on June 5, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 06: Actor Ben Feldman attends the 14th annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball sponsored by Audi, Kayne Anderson, Lauren B. Beauty and Z Gallerie on June 6, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Barry King/Getty Images)
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - NOVEMBER 18: Actor Ben Feldman attends the NBC Comedy Press Junket for 'Telenovela' and 'Superstore' at Universal Studios Hollywood on November 18, 2015 in Universal City, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 10: Actor Ben Feldman attends InStyle and Warner Bros. 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards Post-Party at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 01: Actor Ben Feldman leaves the 'HuffPost Live' taping at the Huffington Post Studios on February 1, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/GC Images)
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What has it been like working with such a pro in America Ferrera?

She's great -- she's a great leader, and she's also really humble and one of the cast members. She's not obnoxious -- and she very well should be. She's also a very talented actress -- when you act opposite her, it's like she isn't really doing anything. But when you watch it back, you're like, "Oh she was brilliant!" and she makes others around her great, too.

Do you see any of yourself in your character, Jonah? If so, what?

Tons. When you do a sitcom, the writers really start writing to you as an actor -- really, writing you. It's almost like if all of your funniest friends sat in a room without you and made fun of you and wrote down the best jokes and sent them to you once a week. That's what it's like being on a sitcom, for me. There's a certain level of snobbery in him, but also bumbling idiot, and I think they nailed that balance.

It's funny because even though Michael Ginsberg, your character on "Mad Men," and Jonah inhabit two totally different worlds, they're both sort of these fish out of water -- people that come into these worlds that they don't totally gel with right away.

That's interesting -- I've never heard anyone say that before, but, yeah, I guess my experience on "Mad Men" was a parallel because if "Mad Men" began with Season 5 ... it begins with Michael Ginsberg's view of the company.

That's funny. I'm taking that with me. I guess I like being the new guy because in some ways it's easier work as an actor -- I don't have to create a back story for myself in that place, and I get to experience everything for the first time the way Jonah is -- I've never worked in a store like this before, and neither has Jonah. There's very much a parallel.

Speaking of Jonah's job, have you ever worked a job in retail?

Every job that I've ever had has involved consumables. The first first job I had was at Baskin Robbins, and that was the only job I've ever had that everyone would recognize. And I got fired from that swiftly for giving free ice-cream to my 14-year-old friends.

Maybe that was as good as it gets? #EndOfAnEra

A photo posted by ben feldman (@benmfeldman) on

Let's switch gears a bit and talk about your experience on "Mad Men," which was obviously such a universally beloved and lauded series.

It was absolutely surreal. It was, in real-time from the very first episode, my favorite show on television. The beginning of my relationship with my wife is defined by watching "Mad Men" together, so the show was already very important to me. Thus, entering it was a giant mindf**k. To walk into something that you love so much kind of makes you this awkward weirdo -- which is fine, because that's what I was playing -- but that's also how it felt walking in there as myself.

Jon Hamm directed my first episode and to talk to him as Jon Hamm is one thing, but to go into the trailer and get hair and makeup done and watch them put gel in his hair and slick it back ... you're literally watch Don Draper materialize out of nowhere. That was wild.

Not only that, but Michael Ginsberg's relationship with Don Draper was also quite contentious, no?

To walk onto your favorite show is already crazy. To walk on and have everyone look at you and be like, "Who the hell is this guy?" and then have to go up against the iconic star of the show is both exhilarating and the scariest thing I've ever done.

What did you make of Michael's exit from the show?

I was thrilled about it. As a "Mad Men" fan, I was always a fan of those big, water cooler moments. Matt Weiner [the show's creator] brought me into his office a couple of weeks before we read the script for that episode and was like, "A lot of people are going to be leaving ... but you're first." [Laughs] It was almost as though he cared if I was going to be bummed out or excited. And I was excited.

As a fan, what did you think of the finale?

It took a really long time for me to decide that I really loved it. With some distance, I thought it was one of the all-time greatest endings to one of the all-time greatest shows.

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