Good Trouble's Ken Kirby On That Cliffhanger, Diversity, & What Makes The Fosters Spinoff a Hit!

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Good Trouble, The Fosters spinoff, has already been hailed as one of the hottest new shows of the year.

It merges the familiar with the unknown as fans follow Callie and Mariana Adams - Foster into their next stage of life as 20-something-year-olds just trying to navigate the world and figure life out. As a result, their journeys have resonated with a broad audience right out of the gate.

A significant portion of Callie's storyline plays out like a legal drama as she enters the cutthroat and competitive world of law clerkship with colleagues and a judge whom she doesn't always agree.

Ben  - Good Trouble Season 1 Episode 4

One of her competitive fellow clerks is Ben, who on Good Trouble Season 1 Episode 4, discovered Callie's secret connection to Malika and may very well hold Callie's future as a clerk and a lawyer in the palm of his hand.

TV Fanatic was fortunate enough to speak to Ken Kirby who plays the opportunistic, competitive, and constantly scheming Ben.

Related: Good Trouble Season 1 Episode 4 Review: Playing the Game

Ken delves into what makes Ben tick, what it was like working with Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu, the importance of diversity, that shocking cliffhanger, and more!

Check out our discussion below!

Callie and Mariana by the Pool - Good Trouble Season 1 Episode 1

So, how did you get involved with Good Trouble?

Good Trouble. It just came along after pilot season because it wasn't a traditional network pilot season show. It was the spin-off, and things kind of came into play and had to be done pretty quickly.

Were you familiar with the Fosters before that?

Yeah, I was a little bit familiar with the show. I didn't have too much time because it was kind of a quick turnaround, so I watched the last episode of The Fosters just to get a sense of the tone, and then I wanted to come into it fresh.

I was doing more research on shows within the law world like Suits. I was already a fan of that show. It's a very professional world, especially on the judicial side -- working with a government judge. I tried to draw from that and not draw too much from the previous show and just come in and present that world honestly.

There was some definite intimidation legal business stuff. And you can see that Ben is the kind of character who is willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead.

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Yeah, I noticed that.

Yeah. It's it's fun to play, not the villain, per se, but I think we've created this kind of triangle between Rebecca, Callie, and Ben that you don't quite know. You know Callie is good, but you don't know between Rebecca and Ben what angles are being played.

As the season gets further along, you'll start to see where allegiances lie and like how far people are willing to go to get the judge's approval and, so those things are actually in this episode. We're pitted against each other by the judge himself to play this game. I think Roger's character gets a get a kick out of this kind of fight for the limelight.

Playing Games - Good Trouble Season 1 Episode 4

Wilson seems like he lives for the competition. He loves seeing them at each other's throats a little bit.

Yeah. One hundred percent. And I think he likes to give me a hard time because he knows how badly I want it. Not to say that the girls don't want it badly, but it's very much evident with Ben.

I mentioned in my review that Ben must come from very humble beginnings and that he's doing whatever it takes to not end up back there. He's really motivated to get ahead like someone who just doesn't want to end up in a bad place.

Yeah. I think as the show continues, there will be more you're going to find out about Ben and what makes him tick, and the pressures that come with being, you know, an Asian-American male and having to do everything perfectly and by the book.

He's someone who went to Harvard and carries these aspirations, underneath that there's something that you're either chasing or you don't want to go back to. So that's going to be interesting to see how that plays out.

Something Fishy - Edited - Good Trouble Season 1 Episode 3

Absolutely. He has an interesting kinship with Callie. What do you think that's about? He does respect her and maybe relates to her having to fight like he did to get to that position more than Rebecca. Of course, he may be attracted to her too. He did try to go up for a nightcap.

[Laughs] I mean things are uh, you never know what's on the docket with Ben because he's always got angles, but there is a relatability to Callie. I think, Rebecca in his mind, she's had things handed to her with her family relationships that she's been able to leverage.

I think he does see that even if his ideology isn't eye-to-eye with Callie, there is that kind of hustle that he probably can relate to and respect, and then also, you know, Callie is Callie, so it wouldn't surprise me if there was an attraction there.

But we'll have to see how the show plays out. At some point at some point, everyone's relationships will kind of be exposed and grow and so we'll see how that plays out.

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[Laughs] The huge cliffhanger is that Ben knows about Callie and Malika, and now we don't know what he's going to do about it. I know you can't say much, but what can you give us?

You'll see how far he's willing to go to further himself, or is he leaning towards being a team player and taking that route? I think it's set up really nicely over the last couple episodes leading up to this episode. You know the audience is left to decide what Ben's going to do, and only time will tell.

I can't give that away, but the audience will find out in good time what he's what he's willing to do. But I think that he's not wrong in what he has been doing.

He's pursuing something that he thinks Callie may be doing that's inappropriate and maybe she is doing something-- maybe she's biting off more than she can chew, and she's kind of burning the candle at both ends.

Related: Good Trouble Promo: Screw the Patriarchy!

We'll see who the audience sides with and roots for. I can't be upset if they choose to root for Callie.

Legal Advice - Good Trouble

Ben doesn't seem like a bad person. He let Rebecca write the memo when she wanted. He helped Callie out. He does stir the pot between the women, but I don't know. He does seem like a team player, but I can't always tell if it's genuine or not.

I think that's the fun thing about Ben. He's a really fun character to play because he does have so much motivation, but I think underneath that, there is a heart; you just have to dig deep to find it.{laughs}

I think he is someone that cares, and so there is that thing when you're trying to establish a name for yourself, especially in your first few years out of school.

These are the years where you hustle and put yourself in a position to get the dream job, and I think you do have to ask yourself what would you be willing to do? Would you be willing to do what Ben does in order to get that corner office job with the with the window view?

I do get a bit of like a Harvey Specter vibe from him sometimes that kind of makes me chuckle.

I mean I love Harvey Specter. I'll take that as a huge compliment.

Ken Kirby - Good Trouble

How much did you geek out getting to work with Crazy Rich Asian director Jon Chu for the pilot?

It was awesome! I am a big fan of Jon's, and then also to have Crazy Rich just about to come out when I worked with him (I think it was probably about two months away from coming out when we were shooting). And he just happened to have this pocket of time where he was available.

Jon just shoots so beautifully, and he has such a great eye to tell this kind of storyline. I remember there's one of the opening shots in the pilot of Callie coming in and entering the shark tank, and she's spinning around, and we're coming in interrogating her, and she's asking questions ...

We shot that several times just to make sure we got it perfect, and when you when you see the end result, you're like okay, it was worth it making sure we nailed that one shot because it created that beautiful look he was going for. Obviously, the movie's doing well, and the movement started, and It's only the beginning.

Related: Good Trouble Season 1 Episode 3 Review: Allies

It really is amazing. I saw a special screening the day before it came out and being in the theater, that experience/energy was out of this world. We always say diversity is improving, and it is, but I do feel like we're headed in a much better direction than before. I think CRA helped usher that in, and it was huge.

It was in the same way with Black Panther. It is very similar in that regard, what it did for the Asian community.

Jon M. Chu Twitter

So diversity was also part of this episode with Mariana, Raj and Casey's issues at Speckulate. I love how authentically diverse the show and the experiences are. You're also a writer, and you like telling diverse and underrepresented stories, right?

Yeah. I've been working with my writing partner Nathan Ramos who I met at a CAPE event; we've been working on this feature script that we're looking to get out there this year, and we're working on our second one now, and they're Asian-American influenced. And it's just cool because you can see these movies and they inspire you.

Crazy Rich just as a standalone, Asian cast aside, was a great rom-com. It's great to have these stories happen. "Oh I'm watching this great rom-com, oh it just happens to be more than one or two Asian people on screen at the same time. Let alone the entire movie. So it's great. You know that's more of those stories need to happen.

I grew up part of my life in Hong Kong and I've always been part of kind of a mixed family where I've been submerged into that world and there's a lot of comedy there's a lot of Asian-American perspective that hasn't been told.

I love comedy myself, so our plan is to push out and tell some of these stories through the Asian-American comedic lens. There's an infinite amount of stories that haven't been told yet.

Premiere Day - tall - Good Trouble

I completely agree I love that your focus is on comedy because for so long with Asian and Asian-Americans, they were the punch line but never the one making them, and there's so much talent out there. Sherry Cola, she's in comedy too, right?

Sherry Cola is great. I typically do more sketch and improv, and Sherry does a lot of standup, and she's very funny. She's just her own energy, and she's really fun to be around, and she's hustling. She does stand up, and she's doing the show, and she writes. She's a triple threat.

Critics love Good Trouble. The fans love it. It's one of the hottest new shows of the year. What does it resonate so well with viewers?

I think it's just got a bit everything and carries the Fosters audience over well into the next generation. Millennial and Gen Z who are the target, and I think they enjoy the show because it's not over their heads.

It tackles a lot of the hard-hitting issues that the Fosters did. We go straight into tackling racially biased workplaces and Black Lives Matter, and they're not taking time to ease into these issues; it's the first episode.

There's there's some relatability to those issues that people love and then on top of that, we've got a great, diverse cast with a lot of fun characters all across the board.

It's three shows in one because you've got the law side, Speckulate side, which has its own Silicon Valley kind of comedic tone, and then The Coterie, which is sexy, relationship-based.

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When you merge all those three it's a very unique show. And I think a lot of people can just relate to it. It's chock full of all these very unique and interesting storylines and characters, and you watch them grow.

I think it's only going to gain popularity as the show goes on because you're able to get to know these kids a little bit more and dive into these storylines. It's not a simple show to make by any means, but it's a very interesting one to watch I'm sure.

Good Trouble Cast Photo

What makes it so complex.

I think just that just weaving in the three different worlds and also you're picking up where these girls left off from The Fosters world and we're taking you into their new world. It can be scary growing up in your 20 somethings, and you're living on your own for the first time.

The jobs that they've chosen can eat people up and spit them out quickly. But you know the two girls are so strong that they're able to kind of fight off the initial onslaught and persevere. I think that's that's the main tricky thing: tying together the three worlds in a way that doesn't confuse the audience, and I think they do a good job of it.

I think so too. Like I said it it's one of. I was pleasantly surprised by the pilot, and I've loved it ever since. I love all of the cast, you guys are super talented, and just I adore the show.

Thank you.

CAPE Screening  - Good Trouble

What else can we expect from Ben and from you? I know have some upcoming projects right?

I can't really give away too much because Ben's storyline is very tied in right now Callie's well-being at work. It's interesting to see his character evolve and what side he chooses, and how far he's willing to go to further himself versus being a team player with the girls.

As far as myself, there are some fun projects coming up. I recorded on a show on Grand Hotel the Eva Longoria ABC show. So that's going to be coming out. I think it premieres June 17 after The Bachelorette.

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Nice timeslot!

Great Timeslot. Really fun character.

I play Byron who's this very rich Chinese billionaire property mogul, and his family's been looking for a stake in the Miami hotel scene. That show is very fun. It's very sexy, and it's got a lot of those passionate telenovela themes that are taken from the original Gran Hotel, which is a very popular show.

It weaves those in well, and it's set on this very beautiful Miami backdrop. I think people are going to really enjoy that it's a nice intriguing, sexy, dangerous kind of summer watch.

You can catch Ken Kirby as Ben if you watch Good Trouble online right here via TV Fanatic!

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Good Trouble Quotes

I thought the free toilet paper would be a nice perk. I had no idea how much people would overwipe. You wouldn't believe it. I hope you guys are eco-friendly.


Mariana: We're so lit.
Callie: We're pretty lit.
Both: We're straight up fire!