Interviews / TV

Ryan Buggle Discusses Noah Coming Out as Bisexual on “SVU” and Being Mariska Hartigay’s TV Son

Many young (and old!) actors would dream of having Mariska Hartigay as their TV mom. For Ryan Buggle, it’s a reality. As such, he’s never had to go far to receive acting wisdom. “I will always remember the best acting advice I’ve received from Mariska. I still use it today,” Ryan says. “She said, ‘Act from your heart, and let everything come from a real place.’ It really resonated with me and I keep that in my back pocket at all times.” In addition to being an actor, Ryan is also a trained ballet dancer. “I just love everything about it, but the credit goes to my amazing dance teachers. Out of all of the styles I take, ballet has to be the hardest I’ve done. It’s so athletic, but It makes me a better dancer and gymnast.” He views dance as another avenue through which to convey compelling narratives. “I love the storytelling. I get to become a different character in every dance and it’s challenging. I’m really passionate about gymnastics as well. I want to be an actor who does all of my own stunts!”

Ryan plays Noah Benson on SVU. Like any preteen, Noah is starting to navigate complex identity issues. “Noah Benson is the son of Captain Olivia Benson and really he’s just a normal kid trying to figure out who he is. Now that Noah is older, the fans are really going to love how he deals with the pressure of having his mom as a police captain and everything that comes along with being a middle schooler. Noah was also adopted by Olivia and I think he really wants to know where he comes from, but I’m not sure Olivia is ready to tell him.” Ryan’s bond with Mariska runs deep and transcends the screen. “She’s honestly more than my TV mom. She’s like my second mom. It’s so easy to act with her because it doesn’t feel like acting at all. She is so funny, probably one of the funniest people I know on the planet. We are always laughing. She is the best!” When she approached him with the possibility of Noah coming out as bisexual, Ryan did not hesitate. “Mariska called me as soon as the writers were first talking about the idea. She asked me if I would be comfortable performing this material, especially because Noah is also bullied in the episode. I instantly knew I wanted to do it. I love telling stories that people at home can connect with. This was such a great challenge and I was up for it! A lot of people asked me if I was nervous to film the scene and honestly, I wasn’t at all.” He feels honored to be able to represent the LGBTQ+ community. “I received so many messages from people all around the world who were so supportive. I was amazed. I think Olivia and Noah represent how the world should be.”

In another story beat, Ryan was thrilled to incorporate his love of dance into the show, although camouflaging his natural skill turned out to be more difficult. “It was so amazing! Even more so because they cast my actual friends from my real life dance class! We had so much fun on set that day learning the dance. The director did have to keep shouting, ‘Ryan, act like it’s your first dance recital and you have no idea what you are doing!’ So that was funny.” He stayed cryptic about what’s ahead for Noah. “I wish I could say more, but Noah has some amazing storylines coming up. This season, he really wants to discover who he is and we get to see so much more of him.” We will just have to watch and see!

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Ryan Buggle Discusses Noah Coming Out as Bisexual on “SVU” and Being Mariska Hartigay’s TV Son. Photo Credit: Elizabeth Pettey Photography.