Field Of Dreams

Rugby Champ Ben Cohen Pursues His Hollywood Dreams

By Sean Larkin

Ben Cohen, the Rugby champion and longtime ally of LGBTQ+ rights, is making his acting debut this summer in Patterns, a new LGBTQ+ series acquired by TLA Releasing, streaming now on Dekkoo.

“When I first read the script for Patterns, I knew I needed to be a part of the series as it spoke to my life-long allyship with the LGBTQ+ community,” says Cohen, who in 2011, launched the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation to combat bullying of children who might be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.  “Also, I have always been a bit curious about appearing in front of the camera as an actor.  The first scene I filmed for Patterns was even more nerve-wracking than when I played for England the first time!”

The British camp comedy incorporates mini narratives to explore several unique themes that make up the lives of LGBTQ+ people and its allies, including family dynamics, coming out, dating, therapy and surviving an existential crisis.   Each episode tells its own distinct story, but all episodes take place in the same universe so that a minor character in one episode may reappear as the lead in another and vice-versa.

“Patterns was created to be a reflection of everyday queer life and how we navigate different social circles at work, with friends and family, behaving differently within each circle we frequent,” the director, Rex Glensy, explains.  “The beauty of the series is that it explores this dynamic with humor and heart.” 

Ben Cohen plays himself, starring opposite Rufus Gleave, a kid actor and dead ringer for Kit Connor, who masterfully plays a young gay boy who idealizes the rugby champion. Ben Cohen helps to lead him out of his inner turmoil.

Other episodes in the series tell a range of stories.  There is the tale of Lionel, played by hunky newcomer Jack Armstrong, who loves the company of other men and becomes obsessed with his pizza delivery man and the saga of narcissistic Foster, played by Rufus Shaljean, whose love of self leads to unexpected consequences.

The fun of Patterns is seeing lead characters in previous episodes reappearing in the periphery of later episodes and watching as minor characters take the lead in their own stories.

The season ends with a surprise eighth episode that neither Glensy nor Cohen wishes to reveal.  “It’s a special gift for viewers who make it to the end,” the director laughs.   He also hints at more Patterns ahead.  “We have developed the narratives for all the characters in Patterns and how they link together and there are still quite a few stories to be told.”