Skip to main contentSkip to footer
Jaren Lewison© Getty

Never Have I Ever's Jaren Lewison breaks down the surprising love triangle conclusion - and shares his favorite scene from season four

 "I always tried, throughout the entire series, to predict what I thought would happen," the actor tells HELLO!

Rebecca Lewis
Rebecca Lewis - Los Angeles
Los Angeles correspondentLos Angeles
June 8, 2023
Share this:

After four seasons, Mindy Kaling's hit high school series Never Have I Ever draws to a close when it drops on Netflix on June 8 - and the love triangle between Devi Vishwakumar, Paxton Yoshida-Hall and Ben Gross finally comes to the only logical conclusion. 

"I did not have any of this in my bingo book for Ben!" Jaren Lewison, who plays Ben, quips to HELLO! for our Spotlight cover. 


Jaren Lewison

Never Have I Ever followed Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) a 16-year-old sophomore in season one who was desperate to lose her virginity, all the way through to graduation and the big move to college at the end of season four. At the end of season three, and their junior year, we saw Devi cash in the 'one free boink' coupon her frenemy-turned-boyfriend-turned friend Ben had given her as a joke, and the credits rolled as they kissed. 

Season four opens with the pair in bed together - but in typical Devi and Ben fashion, it all goes downhill very quickly. "With Ben and Devi nothing's ever easy, right? So it couldn't just be this wonderfully romantic moment," says 22-year-old Jaren. 

But no. Instead, Ben's misplaced words lead to Devi leaving without a conversation, and her later text – sent while trying to channel Kristen Stewart's cool devil-may-care attitude – sees their relationship spiral further south. What follows are some of the best episodes of this series, as Devi, Ben, Paxton (Darren Barnet) and their friends apply for college, make up, break up, and realize what it means to grow up. 

Whether you were Team Ben or Team Paxton, or even Team Devi, the series finale was a satisfying conclusion, and as Jaren – who got his first big break on the children's show Barney And Friends at the age of five – shares, one that "makes sense" when you look back across all four seasons. 

Devi and Ben in bed in Never Have I Ever© Netflix
Season four opens where season three left off...

Here, he discusses his own reactions to the finale, his favorite scene working with Maitreyi, and why he lives his life with "kindness, positivity, enthusiasm and high energy". 

This interview contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Never Have I Ever season four. 

Season four opens with the incredibly awkward scene of Devi and Ben in bed together and then it all just goes downhill. Was that a scenario you were expecting? 

Jaren: I always tried, throughout the entire series, to predict what I thought would happen in various seasons from various characters and I was never once correct. So even though I was theorizing, I did not think that we would start immediately there, and that Ben would go on to get some very poor advice from a very famous superstar (Dwight Howard)! I did not have any of this in my bingo book for Ben! 

With Ben and Devi though, nothing's ever easy, right? So it couldn't just be this wonderfully romantic moment. But as we go throughout the series, we kind of see what the aftermath of that entails and they have to go through some ups and downs to finally figure stuff out. 

Dwight Howard as himself in episode 401 of Never Have I Ever. Cr. Lara Solanki/Netflix © 2023
© Netflix
Dwight Howard as himself in episode 401 of Never Have I Ever. Cr. Lara Solanki/Netflix © 2023

You and Maitreyi always talk about the scripts together when they first come in, what was your response to the opening scene? 

Jaren: We were both just like, "No that was so goofy. What are we doing?!" Ben is just so awkward. Neither of them know how to approach that situation, and Maitreyi and I were like, "Just speak, say what's in your head!" 

Throughout season 4 was there a Ben and Devi moment you were surprised by? 

Jaren: Yes, my favorite scene of the entire series is from episode 10 and it's Ben's "I love you". That, to me, was surprising – it makes so much sense, but at the same time it's this really interesting juxtaposition, because Ben's personality, as a whole, is holistically not someone that wants to be vulnerable. 

But to fly all the way from New York, and to show up at this wedding where everyone in Devi's family, her friends, and even people she doesn't even know, are going to be there and for him to profess his love for her? That's a little surprising and such a big step for him, for their relationship, and for Devi to hear those words coming from him. 

However when you look at this series, and go back through each and every Ben and Devi moment, it [was all leading to that] scene. It's one of my favorite scenes that I've ever done in my entire career, and I think that Lang Fisher [the writer and executive producer] did such an incredible job of writing that episode and directing it. I texted Mindy Kaling and Lang both after I read that episode and said, "This one of the most beautiful pieces of art that I have ever read. Thank you so much." 

Jaren Lewison as Ben Gross, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Devi in episode 410 of Never Have I Ever. Cr. Lara Solanki/Netflix © 2023
© Netflix
'We are such good friends in real life'

I was word-vomiting words of appreciation and gratitude in regards to what they have done for me and the belief in me that they had throughout the series. I'm so proud of that scene and it was awesome to be able to do it with one of my really good friends, Maitreyi, and it was a blast.

Do you and Maitreyi work together on how to approach scenes, or do you have very different processes?

Jaren: We are such good friends in real life and we've done so many scenes together that it's almost an unspoken dance now, we just step together in motion. We don't have to really say anything, and there will be times where we'll look at each other after a take and we'll just say, "Oh yeah." 

It's hard to describe in words but it's sometimes a feeling where you're like, "That was it." Whatever we were looking for, however it was supposed to feel, that was it, we hit that feeling of authenticity or an honesty that we were looking for. 

Throughout the seasons we've also recognized when we hit it because the crew will sometimes have their mouths open or they'll be laughing behind the scenes or afterwards, some crew members who are like our family – they grew up with us as well – and tell us that they got emotional as well. 

Jaren Lewison, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan and Darren Barnet attend Netflix's "Never Have I Ever" season 4 premiere at Westwood Village on June 01, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images for Netflix)© Rodin Eckenroth
Jaren, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan and Darren Barnet attend Netflix's "Never Have I Ever" season 4 premiere

When you think back to four years ago, what was it about Ben that you loved? 

Jaren: It was the complexity and the depth of emotion that was written into him. For an actor, when you get an audition you read the sides and you try to come up with this idea of what the character is. But then when you get a job, that world just vastly expands, and Ben was such an incredible expansion. 

It felt like an infinite amount of layers and nuances that I could find in Ben, who starts out as being very obnoxious and crude and brash, and and someone unlikable, but then you realize, Oh he's really just projecting all of his insecurities because he's so lonely and sad, and the way that he's trying to get love and attention is through name-dropping because otherwise he doesn't feel seen, but he is really smart and caring, and he is a good kid underneath everything but he doesn't know how to express that because he never has before, and he doesn't have a lot of friends. 

There are so many layers to him, and I knew him immediately. My screen test sides actually contained pretty much verbatim this scene from season one episode six where Ben is crying in Dr. Vishwakumar's office and he says, "I haven't done dinner with anyone in a long time." That broke my heart and I was like, Oh my God, there's so much to this kid, please, please let me get this chance. 

Jaren Lewison attends Netflix's "Never Have I Ever" season 4 premiere at Westwood Village on June 01, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Netflix)© Charley Gallay
'I loved the depth of emotion and complexity in Ben'

How have you felt about the development of Ben over these four seasons? 

Jaren: The first thing to note is that every season there's been a specific theme for Ben as a character, and I really love that; in season one it's insecurity and vulnerability. You get to season two and it's a lot about relationships and adapting and working through pain and heartbreak and adversity, then season three is about stress and pressure, and then season four is about growth and identity, and maturation, all of which is the high school experience personified, and Lang always said to all of us, "If there's anything that doesn't feel true to you, talk to us, pitch suggestions.'"

I would always get the chance to chat about it, even before we went into shooting, which I think is very rare and that says a lot about the collaborative environment that they created on set. Mindy and Lang cared a lot about creativity, about the environment that you're working in and making sure that it's pleasant and collaborative and creative, and that is not something that happens on every set. 

Jaren Lewison as Ben Gross in episode 408 of Never Have I Ever. Cr. Courtesy Of Netflix © 2023© Netflix
'It was like a perfect puzzle where we all fit together, which is really, really cool'

But for the most part there really weren't those instances where it didn't feel right. They also got to know me as much as I got to know them, and so they would see my mannerisms and they could predict how I would start playing these scenes. It was like a perfect puzzle where we all fit together, which is really, really cool, and I think that I got better as an actor because I got more comfortable with the writing. 

Are there any elements to Ben that you struggled to get into the headspace for because you're so different? 

Jaren: Like any character there are similarities and differences, and the thing that I understood the most was his pursuit of academic perfection. I was also a very huge nerd throughout my whole life, I loved class. I love learning. I went to USC and shot the show at the same time because I wanted a degree, which is like a very Ben Grosse thing to do. 

But the things that were difficult to understand were playing some of those moments where Ben would come off as obnoxious or a little abrasive, because I live and lead my life with kindness, positivity, enthusiasm and high energy. I always want people to work with me and say, "Oh my God, that was a fantastic experience.'"

Hopefully they think I'm a good actor too! 

But above all, I care more that people enjoy working with me as a person and making sure that I'm always respectful to others. Ben, oftentimes, does not lean that way so I had to find a way to make him still likable even when he did some really terrible things like calling Devi 'Part of the UN' which is very mean thing to say, or when his jabs can sometimes be really frustrating. 

There was a line where it couldn't feel too pointed or intense because then it does come across unlikable, but it was a line we towed and found together as a team.

Jaren Lewison as Ben Gross, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Devi in episode 409 of Never Have I Ever. Cr. Courtesy Of Netflix © 2023© Netflix
'I thought she was gonna be Team Devi'

Were you surprised that Devi ended up with Ben? 

Jaren: Yes and no. In terms of trying to predict the story lines, I'm always wrong. I thought she was gonna be Team Devi, that there would be no winner of the love triangle, and when Lang told me that there would be one I was hopeful that it would be Ben because yes I'm biased. 

But if you look back at the series it makes sense. I think that if you look throughout from season one all the way to season four, in times of internal or external strife, in moments of great triumph, and in moments of despair, they find each other. They have this magnetism to them where they just find each other. Something – fate or destiny, I don't know what – brings them together day in and day out and they always work through their issues and come back stronger. 

It's really precious and the foundation that they have is really powerful. 

When you think 10 years it's the future, do you think Devi and Ben are still together?

Jaren: Thinking in a positive frame, sure. They'll go through so much growth and meet people that expand their worldly perspective and maybe they do that together, or maybe they do that separately and find each other. If anything, that's what Ben and Devi do, right? They go through stuff separately and then they come back together.

But I also know that long distance romances are hard, even if they're only an hour away. There are so many different things that could happen at their respective colleges. But like John McEnroe said, "For now." 

If we ever reprise the roles in 10 or 15 years and we do a film I guess we'll find out what happened to them! 

Would you reprise the role of Ben at some point? 

Jaren: I would like to have it sit for now, but I think that it would be really cool if in 10 or 15 years, we could revisit that idea but not anytime soon. Hopefully we're all working as actors and wildly successful and then we happen to talk to Lang and Mindy and they're like, 'You guys want to do this?' Then we all come back and we see where everyone left off, if Trent and Eleanor married with seven kids or if she made it big and she's a huge Hollywood star and maybe Fabiola's a Nobel Prize winner.

Darrens always says he's hoping that Paxton ends up in Hawaii teaching surf lessons! 

Jaren Lewison attends Netflix's "Never Have I Ever" season 4 premiere at Westwood Village on June 01, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images for Netflix)© Rodin Eckenroth
'Being on this show changed my life'

Were you aware when you were cast that Andy Samberg would be doing your solo episodes? 

Jaren: It actually was somebody different – I don't think that I'm allowed to say who it was, but originally it was not going to be Andy. When he agreed to do this, I was beyond over the moon. I never got to meet him but hopefully I'll get the chance to work with him one day and obviously I am very grateful that he lent his vocal talents and his comedic genius to narrate Ben's inner thoughts. 

How has Ben changed you as an actor? 

Jaren: It's hard to even put into words. Being on the show changed my entire life because I have been acting for 13 years and there were times where I was like, "I don't think I can do this anymore." It's a really hard business and there's a lot of rejection and you give a piece of your heart away every audition that you do.

But being trusted with character and being given such incredible writing and an unbelievable cast that help make my job so much easier is all a dream come true for an actor. I always like to think about that little five-year-old boy who started on Barney, looking up to who I am now. It makes me feel so proud, that I know that he would be so proud of me. 

I know that there is a lot to continue to be accomplished: like Ben I am always striving and working towards some really lofty aspirations. Yes, I would like to win an Oscar one day and Emmy's and work with super incredible directors. But more than that, I want to learn and I want to grow and I want to create and I want to be a part of that artistic process helping writers and directors achieve their vision because that's what an actor is. 

You're a brush they're using to paint and it's really exciting when you get to be a different brush in every role.

View post on Instagram

You have your 'Jaren Bakes' posts on Instagram, how did you fall in love with baking? 

Jaren: I've loved to bake my entire life. I have a massive sweet tooth: I love cakes and cookies; chocolate is my favorite. I don't like any of those gummy snacks, but if it is a baked pastry or some kind of a cookie or cake or ice cream I will eat it.

My grandmother on my dad's side, my Grammy, I remember very fondly baking with her as a child and then getting to eat it afterwards and we are very close so it was always such a special time and it has really bonded us. I call her at least once a week and not only for baking questions, but just in general we are close. 

She is one of my biggest fans even though she had no idea what Netflix was when I first told her I got this job! But now I am expanding my repertoire a little bit, and some actors and athletes and artists have alcohol brands or beauty brands, and I would love one day to maybe find a way to have Jaren's Bake Shop. 

Would you ever go on like a celebrity version of Bake Off? 

Jaren: I'm a home baker, I have no training! I have my grandmother's recipes and recipes that I found from really talented people online that I can tinker with a little bit - maybe I add some salted butter with some sea salt to kick in the flavors a little bit more or I adjust the ratios but I can't come up with something from scratch!

Don't want to miss a story? Sign up to our What to Watch newsletter and get the heads-up on the shows and films everyone’s talking about.

Sign up to HELLO Daily! for the best royal, celebrity and lifestyle coverage

By entering your details, you are agreeing to HELLO! Magazine User Data Protection Policy. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more information, please click here.