Ben Mehl didn’t know much about the TV series “You” before he auditioned for the third season.
With twin daughters, he doesn’t have much time to watch TV.
“I don’t get to watch everything I want to watch,” he says with a laugh. “Once I found out about the audition, I became a huge fan and really wanted to get the part. I was at home running their bath when I found out about getting the part.”
“You” is based on Caroline Kepnes’ bestselling novel of the same name.
It follows a brilliant bookstore manager who crosses paths with an aspiring writer and falls hard for her.
He uses the internet and social media to gather the most intimate of details and get close to her, and a charming and awkward crush quickly becomes an obsession as he quietly and strategically removes every obstacle – and person – in his way.
In the third season, Joe and Love, played by Penn Badgley and Victoria Pedretti, now married and raising their baby, have moved to the Northern California enclave of Madre Linda, where they’re surrounded by privileged tech entrepreneurs, judgmental mommy bloggers and bio-hackers.
Joe is committed to his new role as a husband and dad but fears Love’s lethal impulsiveness. The new season begins streaming Friday, Oct. 15.
In the new season of the Netflix series, Mehl plays Dante, a confident, independent but fallible veteran who has found extraordinary ways to adapt and continues to be a librarian even after losing his sight. Dante is a dedicated family man with a husband and two stepchildren who longs to expand his family and delights in helping his friends with their children.
“Dante is a family man, and he’s married to his husband, who has brought two children into the relationship,” Mehl says. “He wants to have another or more children. One of the things that is most interesting is Dante is blind. I feel honored to play Dante and be involved in the production.”
Mehl feels a bond with Dante because they both have vision impairments.
“I am legally blind, and I have low vision,” he says. “I had to train myself how to be totally blind. I don’t use a cane, and I trained with a mobility specialist to learn the proper technique. I spent many hours working on getting Dante represented correctly.”
Mehl was diagnosed with a rare genetic form of macular degeneration called Stargardt’s disease, which causes loss of central vision. He was told the condition was progressive and there was no treatment or cure, and eventually his vision deteriorated to the point that he could no longer read normal-size text or recognize faces.
To prepare for role as Dante, Mehl trained with an orientation and mobility specialist to learn the proper techniques for using a white cane. At times, he felt like he was preparing for what his future may hold for him. He spent hours observing and taking notes outside a building for blind residents in New York and gained a deep appreciation for the skill it takes to navigate the world without sight.
This led him to rethink his career, but he decided not to let his disease define him.
“I have so much respect for the show, from writers to directors,” he says. “Coming into this series, it was already successful before I got here. Seeing this incredible machine with so many talented people all working towards the same goal. I came in and did my job and tried to represent Dante as accurately as I could. That was the challenge I set for myself.”