First and foremost, Firefly Lane is a story about friendship. The new Netflix series, based on the bestselling 2008 novel by Kristin Hannah, tracks the bond between Tully Hart and Kate Mularkey over more than three decades, with Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke, respectively, playing the leads for most of their adult years. Tully and Kate become fast friends in middle school, then spend the ensuing decades navigating their own changing life plans and how they fit into one another's lives—if at all—amid these changes.
But beyond all of this, vying for second place in both women's hearts is one Johnny Ryan, who meets Tully and Kate in college, then goes on to work with them, flirt with them, and even marry one of them. Despite the major role Johnny plays in the series (and in that huge cliffhanger at the end of season one!), it's understandable if you spent much of his time onscreen scouring Google and IMDb to figure out where, exactly, you've seen him before—because you've definitely seen him before. Here's everything you need to know about Ben Lawson, the man behind the camera.
That Australian accent is real.
Lawson was born and raised in Brisbane. After getting "kicked out" of the University of Southern Queensland, per a recent Sydney Morning Herald profile, graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Kensington, New South Wales. Like many of his fellow actors from the land down under, Lawson's breakthrough role arrived via the soap opera Neighbours, on which he starred as Frazer Yeats for nearly 200 episodes from 2006 to 2008. Prior to this, he'd starred in several other Aussie productions, including sci-fi series Time Trax and a spinoff of the extremely Australian-sounding Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.
Firefly Lane showrunner Maggie Friedman recently explained why she tweaked the character of Johnny to include Lawson's natural accent (can you blame her?). "Ben was cool with doing either an American or his Australian accent. I sort of felt like, man, that Australian accent just gives him another layer of mystery and coolness that I felt just really fit with the character. I love the accent," she told Entertainment Weekly.
You might recognize him as the fourth Hemsworth brother.
The (sadly) fictional fourth Hemsworth brother, that is. Shortly after leaving Neighbours, Lawson moved to L.A. in 2008 and quickly landed recurring roles on The Deep End and Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23, and a part in 2011's No Strings Attached. More recently, he's had main roles on Doubt, alongside Firefly Lane costar Heigl, as well as Designated Survivor, 13 Reasons Why, and, of course, as Larry Hemsworth on The Good Place.
He also recently appeared in Bombshell as Lachlan Murdoch, son of Rupert, with his real-life brother Josh playing Lachlan's brother James. Next up, Lawson will star as Longfellow in the film adaptation of the play Everything I Ever Wanted to Tell My Daughter About Men.
He's a published poet.
In January 2020, Lawson took to Instagram to recite a long-form poem he'd written about the devastation of the ongoing Australian wildfires. After the poem went viral, it was published as an illustrated book, To My Country, in January of this year, with the proceeds going to The Koala Hospital, an Australian organization focused on preservation and conservation.
A photo posted by on
"I wrote the poem To My Country as I watched the Black Summer bushfires burn," he told the Sydney Morning Herald after the book was published. "I refer to Australia as 'she,' as she provides for us the same way a mother would. It would be nice if we respected her in that same way."
He has a lot of thoughts on that season one cliffhanger.
In a new interview with Glamour, while Lawson kept his lips zipped on whether Johnny survives the terrible accident that happens in the final minutes of season one of Firefly Lane, he did open up about what he's hoping comes next for Johnny. "I don't know exactly what the producers of the show are going to do, but I'd like to think Johnny is going to stick around a bit for a little while longer," he said.
And if his wish comes true, Lawson's hoping for a reunion between Johnny and Kate. "I definitely think Johnny needs Kate. He needs that real, good, kindhearted, honest person to ground him. Without Kate, Johnny would sort of burn out. He probably would have never had this huge second career on Tully's show. He would have drunk himself into a depressing stupor. With those two women, they change the course of his life," he said. "Everyone wants a Kate Mularkey. That's the person you marry and build a life with, but he has this other thing that he feels he was born to do and has never truly got to do. Still, I would like to see them together."
And yes, he's single.
In contrast to his complicated relationship status on the show, Lawson confirmed to Glamour that he is currently unattached and described his ideal partner: "I am looking for someone to hang out with and watch Netflix shows and not argue too much. That would be fun."
Elsewhere in his love life, he's singlehandedly overturning the idea that exes can't be friends. In his Sydney Morning Herald profile, Lawson mentioned multiple past girlfriends who he's still close with. Of his "first serious girlfriend," he said, "Weirdly, I still email her on her birthday each year. She has a couple of little kids now. Melissa is great."
As for his most recent relationship, with a woman from Hawaii who he met while filming Grimm in Oregon, Lawson said, "Maile is one of the smartest and kindest people I know. We talk all the time. She'll always be the 'mother' to my dog, Mochi. I've hung out with her and her new boyfriend." So take that, When Harry Met Sally!
Andrea Park is a Chicago-based writer and reporter with a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the extended Kardashian-Jenner kingdom, early 2000s rom-coms and celebrity book club selections. She graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism in 2017 and has also written for W, Brides, Glamour, Women's Health, People and more.
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