- Melvin Gregg plays lottery winner Ben Chandler on Hulu’s limited series, “Nine Perfect Strangers.”
- The actor told Insider that the character’s original wardrobe looked too inexpensive.
- So, Gregg requested a makeover for Ben that would make him look like “new money.”
When Melvin Gregg joined the “Nine Perfect Strangers” cast as Ben Chandler, he was prepared to portray the young lottery winner in all of his “new money” grandeur.
He envisioned the former catering truck driver (and newly minted multi-millionaire) decked out in designer labels, flashy logos, and cutting-edge trends.
“I think my interpretation was a little different than what they had initially expected,” the 32-year-old told Insider.
He added: “I realized that when I looked at the wardrobe.”
Gregg arrived on set in Byron Bay, Australia, in 2020 to begin shooting David E. Kelley’s adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s 2018 novel of the same name.
As he geared up to play Ben, who attends a luxe wellness retreat called Tranquillum House with his wife Jessica Chandler (Samara Weaving), he found that his on-screen attire was “really played down.”
“It looked like he shopped at Target,” the actor said.
The juxtaposition between Ben’s ostentatious yellow Lamborghini, for example, and his run-of-the-mill clothes didn’t make sense to Gregg, who viewed the two details as a direct contradiction. He also reasoned that image-obsessed Jessica would never allow her husband to dress in such nondescript garments.
So, the actor decided to have an upfront conversation with the crew about his vision for Ben.
“I gave them my perspective of who Ben was and where his mind was heading, who he would be in this relationship and how he would be affected by never having money and then getting money and being with someone like Jessica, who’s so much into the social scene,” he said.
Winning the lottery after scraping by financially for years took a toll on the couple, hence their trip to Tranquillum House to heal their struggling marriage. Many of Ben and Jessica’s issues, in Gregg’s opinion, result from feeling a need to prove their wealth and status to the outside world, whether it be through social-media likes for aspiring influencer Jessica or high-speed sports cars for Ben.
“It’s new money. New money is different from old money,” Gregg said, adding, “Once you’re Bill Gates, you can walk around in Target clothes, but it’s new money.”
After reading the “Nine Perfect Strangers” script, Gregg delved into Moriarty’s novel to get more background on Jessica and Ben’s relationship. The book only reaffirmed his belief that Ben would use material possessions to hide lingering feelings of inadequacy.
“When you see him, he seems like someone with success, some notoriety. But then when you get to know him, you realize that it’s all a mask to hide his insecurities,” Gregg said.
After considering Gregg’s take on Ben, the crew went back to the drawing board for his wardrobe. Even though Gregg was successful in pushing for pricier clothing throughout the eight-episode limited series, the actor said his on-screen wardrobe bears no resemblance to his personal style.
“The clothes were a little too flashy for me. I’m not into branded designer stuff,” Gregg said.
“I’m more of the Target guy.”
“Nine Perfect Strangers” is currently available to stream on Hulu, with new episodes released on a weekly basis.