Ariana Grande altered the flow of space and time this week when she released her “thank u, next” music video, paying homage to pop culture’s most iconic romantic comedies. One of those was Mean Girls, and Grande enlisted the perfect actor to play the Aaron Samuels to her Regina George: the actual Aaron Samuels, Jonathan Bennett. We caught up with Bennett hours after the video’s release to hear all about how he got involved. (Spoiler alert, Ariana’s team slid into his DMs.)
Rose Dommu: How did you get involved in the video?
Jonathan Bennett: They literally messaged me on Instagram and I thought it was a joke. I passed it along to my team and said, “Someone is pretending to be Ariana Grande’s manager saying they want me to be in the music video.” They checked it out and called me back an hour later and said, “No, it’s real, do you want to do it?” And I said, Absolutely!
RD: Did her team explain the concept of the video to you?
JB: They didn’t give us much, they asked if I wanted to be in the video and my first reaction was, doesn’t she want a 21-year-old kid with abs? Don’t you want some hot young guy? And they told me I was going to be Aaron Samuels and that’s when i realized how genius it was, that they were combining nostalgic movies with the pop icon herself, what a great combination. And I said sure.
RD: Was being on set a total flashback moment?
JB: When you get your hair done like Aaron Samuels for the first time in 15 years and walk into the hallway with all the blue lockers and the girls dressed as Plastics, it really brought me back. It gave me chills. Honestly, when I looked in the mirror and was with all the Plastics, it felt like I was seeing an old friend who’s been such a part of my life for 15 years.
RD: Were you an Ariana Grande fan before you shot the video?
JB: Of course, everyone in the world is an Ariana Grande fan, she’s the queen.
RD: Mean Girls has become this indelible part of pop culture, what is it like to be part of that?
JB: I released The Burn Cookbook this past Mean Girls Day, October 3, the ultimate cooking guide for Mean Girls fans — the perfect holiday gift, cough cough — and if you would’ve told me when we were shooting that famous scene in Mean Girls where we walk down the hallway in slow motion, that one day we’d release a cookbook based on that moment, or that we’d be in the biggest pop star in the world’s music video because of it, I wouldn’t have believed you. But the best part of being in something like this is how much joy it brings to people. Mean Girls makes a lot of people happy and that’s why I wanted to do this video.
RD: What was it like to hang out with Ariana?
JB: Ariana Grande is literally one of the best humans I’ve ever met. There is a special kindness and caring for others that she has that is very rare in the world and especially in Hollywood, and she has an overwhelming abundance of love and kindness she emits that is undeniable.
RD: So she’s not a mean girl, she just plays one in her music videos.
JB: She’s the opposite of a mean girl...it was so fun. Did you love it?
RD: I loved it.
JB: I threw my wig across the room when I saw it.
RD: So your hair doesn’t just look sexy pushed back, it came right off?
JB: Now it’s across the room.