Best known for portraying Elz in FX’s hit series Dave, Travis Bennett has started to distance himself from his previous role as the hypeman for Odd Future and establish himself as an actor who’s fully capable of mastering a supporting part — and likely much more.
Recently having shared the screen with Jonah Hill, Eddie Murphy and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Netflix’s You People as well as Mel Brooks in The History of the World Part 2, Bennett has looked good as Elz, as his passion for vintage clothes and scouring the marketplace for them has led to him wearing many of his own pieces while FX’s cameras are rolling.
“It started in season one with them putting outfits on me and me making a joke or two about how they just weren’t my style. Then I told them to just come to my closet to take things,” Bennett, who recently teamed with Jameson and Dickies to help release the “Crafted Together” collection, tells InsideHook. “That’s what we did for the first season, but for seasons two and three I just brought a lot of stuff. After I wear something on the show, I don’t like it anymore. If you saw me in it real life wearing something I’d worn on TV, I’d feel crazy. I’d look like I stole clothes or it would feel like a reality show.”
A hardcore Lakers fan, the LA native actually has a Boston Celtics shirt in his closet along with the unwearable items that have been returned from the Dave set. “It says ‘Fuck the Celtics,’ bro. I had to buy it,” he says.
To find out more about Bennett’s passion for fashion and what he believes his Hollywood future holds, we caught up with the 29-year-old on the phone while he was on a mission to find a nail salon in his hometown.
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InsideHook: How did you discover your passion for vintage fashion and style?
Travis Bennett: I played basketball growing up so I was used to wearing baggy clothes and baggy shorts. Then when I started skating I was wearing baggy shorts with white Vans. You follow trends when you’re a kid and then you start to find your own style and yourself as you get older. I feel I found my style at 20 years old and have not stopped since. I’ve been wearing vintage for the past nine years of my life and it takes up a lot of my time. I’m waking up early to go to Rose Bowl Flea Market. I fly places to go shop. I went to Utah and found some good workwear stuff, especially some Dickies. But, it’s a problem honestly. I think I have an addiction.
Have you developed a network of places where you consistently go to buy vintage?
I was in Utah shooting a movie for five weeks and started looking around out of boredom. I found all these vintage stores and fell in love with a few of them. I stayed connected with those guys and that opened up another group of people to deal with and they showed me a bunch of new stuff and have a great community. Vintage is a great community in general and really work together to help each other out. It’s not as if somebody’s climbing to get to the top. There’s no top of vintage. I also do an aggressive amount of eBay shopping. My buyer rating is 150% I think. There’s no way you can challenge that. Who am I?
Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve purchased and can’t stop wearing?
It always comes in waves. I usually find an outfit with something in it. I have this hoodie I bought years ago that’s some random basketball team that just has a slit down the middle. It’s cut up and I’m loving that right now. The majority of the stuff I wear is all ripped up and torn to shreds and I didn’t do half of it. My all-time favorite is probably just a Lakers T-shirt. I also have a good pair of painted Vans that are insane. You never know what you’re looking for, but you always end up finding something. I just find just random shit. It’s a problem. I get to the flea market and get scared if I don’t have anything. I have to still look because there’s something there I don’t know I love yet, you know? No shirt left behind.
Do you have to feel comfortable with what you’re wearing in order to get into character?
For the character of Elz specifically, I can’t just step in wearing some bullshit. Sometimes they try to give me things to wear that make it look like I’m in a Target commercial. It’s like, let me get something cool. Watching Fresh Prince or Martin, you saw the outfits they were wearing and they were realistic outfits. Then you watch a Nickelodeon show and everybody has on a red, blue or green shirt. No one wears just green T-shirts, you know? I feel sometimes it’s a little bit too TV. I try to make it seem like I want Vogue to one day write an article about how I dressed on the show. The vintage pieces I pull out, there’s some heat on there. I do my best to represent. I think characters who have a distinctive style are important to a show’s character. I hope in the future everybody is as collaborative as they’ve been with me on Dave.
What do you think your next big project will be?
Dude, if I knew what was next I’d probably be bored. The way my life’s been working lately, I’m very thankful to be in the position I’m in and to work with the people I get to work with. I’m trying to stay as present as possible in life right now. I feel that’s something we don’t do enough in my generation. When I was a kid, it was more about what I was doing in the next minute and not about the next 10 or 20 years. Everybody’s so focused on what their legacy is going to be. I can’t even think about that. I want to just think about tomorrow.
For your legacy, would you rather win an acting award or be known as Hollywood’s best-dressed man?
Oof. That’s a good question. Geez, Louise. Awards come and go and I think the best-dressed man is tight, but, I’m not looking for any awards for either. There are days I put on an outfit and I’m like, “God damnit Travis, today you’re one of the baddest to ever walk the Earth.” There are other days I can’t figure out what to wear to save my life. It all depends, but I guess I’ll go with best-dressed because I don’t think there are too many comedy awards to win. I haven’t gotten into dramas enough to really go for gold, you know?
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