Tony Hale says being on actual sets helped him transform into the two characters he plays in Disney+’s ‘The Mysterious Benedict Society’

Tony Hale sitting on a stump in the forest
Tony Hale in ‘The Mysterious Benedict Society.’ Disney+
  • Hale plays twin brothers in “The Mysterious Benedict Society.”
  • He told Insider the show’s sets got him into the right mood to play the roles.
  • Benedict’s office makes you feel “cared for,” while Curtain’s makes you “self-aware,” Hale said.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In an era where audiences are dazzled by CGI-fueled landscapes in movies and TV shows, Tony Hale can’t say enough about the level of detail that was put into the real-world sets he acted on for the new Disney+ series “The Mysterious Benedict Society.”

“We, the actors, are just a small piece of this pie,” Hale told Insider.

Based on the acclaimed young adult book series by Trenton Lee Stewart, the show, which is available now on the streamer, delivers a dazzling display of sets that feature a retro 1970s vibe that feels like what Wes Anderson must dream about at night.

And for Hale – who plays not just the title character, Nicholas Benedict, but also his shady twin brother, Ledroptha Curtain – being able to walk into that physical environment, rather than filming in a studio surrounded by green screen (where he’d have to imagine the setting he was in), really elevated his performance.

“Benedict’s office, when you walk in and you see everything is Earth tones and the fire place, it’s somewhere you would want to sit back and have a great conversation and feel cared for,” Hale said. “And then cut to later, Curtain’s office, his is cold blues, modern, and when you walk in you feel you have to check your posture. The furniture is not very comfortable. I become very self-aware.”

The story delves into the formation of a team of four orphans all with gifted talents who are tasked by Benedict to stop Curtain’s plan to brainwash the world. For the Benedict character, Hale sports bushy hair, a thick beard, and corduroy suits. Curtain, meanwhile, has shorter hair and a trimmed beard, and wears power suits.

Tony Hale as different characters in 'The Mysterious Benedict Society'
Hale as Benedict (left) and Hale as Curtain in ‘The Mysterious Benedict Society.’ Disney+

Like pretty much anything made today, there were certainly computer-generated elements used in the creation of “Benedict Society,” but Hale said that, as an actor, when you mix actual sets with great costumes, hair, and makeup (all three a top notch on this show), it helps a performance immensely.Along with the tools the show provided, the Emmy winner also looked within himself to find inspiration for his dual performances.

“Benedict is so full of joy and so full of empathy and care, I looked at him and hope that those qualities are also in me,” Hale said. “But with Curtain, I see him as being misunderstood. He’s manipulative, but it comes from trauma, so I guess what I’m saying is instead of looking at him as the evil one I can look at myself and say, ‘Hey, there’s times in my life where I’ve felt misunderstood.'”

Of course, as much fun as it was to play two parts, Hale will admit that it got a little confusing sometimes.

“It was a little tricky when I had to shoot both characters on the same day,” he said. “That messed with my mind a little bit.”

“The Mysterious Benedict Society” premiered Friday on Disney+.