Kapil Talwalkar

Kapil Talwalkar Talks Tobin and ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist airs its final episode tomorrow, but for Kapil Talwalkar, who plays wannabe bro Tobin, that’s only the beginning. Or at least, we hope it is.

Fangirlish had a chance to talk to Kapil, and the first thing we did (and the last, too) was manifest a season 2 into the universe. We desperately want it, and this show absolutely deserves it, just as it deserves some awards and much more recognition than it currently gets.

Then, of course, we had to ask the requisite quarantine question. We’re all stuck inside, and we’re all looking for new (or old) stuff to binge. So what is Kapil watching? The answer is “Community and Atlanta,” two very good shows to dive into in these weird times.

We all need a laugh, after all. And we all need, well, and escape. Which is why a lot of us have been turning to, well, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.

“We are home, and we need some kind of hope, and some sort of sense of entertainment, and sometimes just some place to check out and be in some other person’s world,” Kapil explained, when questioned on why so many more people were checking out the show during quarantine. “People are seeking entertainment as some sort of escapism.”

ZOEY’S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST — “Zoey’s Extraordinary Confession” Episode 107 — Pictured: Kapil Talwalkar as Tobin — (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC)

There are worse places to escape to than the world of Zoey, where everyone is singing ALL. THE. TIME. Especially because, thanks to that part of the show, Kapil shared, they get the joy of working with world-renowned choreographer Mandy Moore.

“Mandy is one of the biggest joys of working on this show, easily. When I get my schedule and I see that I’m working with Mandy, I just wake up ten times happier that day. She’s such a ray of light and positivity and wonderful energy, and I always leave every rehearsal refreshed, happy and creatively fulfilled.”

We have absolutely no problem believing this.

As for what song Kapil would, personally like to bring to this musical world, after perusing through his Spotify (as you do when you want to quickly remember what it is you like), he finally settled on Norah Jones’ “Don’t Know Why” and explained that he wants “to see Tobin fall in love at some point in time and sing a love song.”

To which we say: sign us up for more Tobin content.

Especially considering how much she’s grown from the character we first met. Though, for Kapil, it isn’t much growth as understanding.

“I’ve always thought that, at the beginning, Tobin was a very misunderstood character,” he told us. “I think deep down inside his likeability came from the fact that once you get to know him he’s just like a goofball, dying for validation from everybody, and so once you see that you begin to emphasize with him more, and you sort of go aww he’s harmless. He’s not actually the douche he came across as in the beginning of the show, and you get to see his heart and his sensitivity.”

Picture me just nodding along, because this was the perfect way to explain Tobin, and as much as actors get to spend so much time in the head of their characters, they’re not always as good as expressing in words what that means as Talwalkar is.

ZOEY’S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST — “Zoey’s Extraordinary Outburst” Episode 110 — Pictured: (l-r) Michael Thomas Grant as Leif, Kapil Talwalkar as Tobin — (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC)

“I think that Tobin is in love with the idea of being a bro,” he added. “That’s what’s endearing about it, he wants to be a bro, but in reality he’s just a funny nerd who’s a goofball.”

This is a departure, not just from the stereotype, but even from our expectations of the character in the first place. And Talwalkar went a step forward when he shared that, “To play a character like that, with that sort of duality, is delicious as an actor, especially as an Indian American actor, because until recently, with the sort of awareness of the lack of diversity, Indian-American actors were pigeonholed into stereotypical roles.”

“Before he would have stayed the character he was, or he would have been just a one dimensional coder or a one-dimensional nerd.”

And now …we get Tobin, with all his layers.

Kapil was quick to credit showrunner Austin Winsberg for the character. “I want to give credit to Austin here, he’s really put a lot of thought into Tobin and how he’s using Tobin to tell a story. I’m very honored to play a character that he’s put so much thought to, and a character who has layers, who’s not what meets the eye.”

Take his relationship with Leif, for example, and the depth of caring the show displayed, which is rare when it comes to relationships between two men. To that, Kapil said “Tobin and Leif have known each other for years and there’s definitely a deep love and a sense of a brotherhood there and …Leif is his best friend.”

We all need a best friend. And sometimes, well …sometimes, our best friends can become more. Take Zoey and Max, for example, a possible relationship Tobin would certainly have an opinion about.

ZOEY’S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST — “Zoey’s Extraordinary Glitch” Episode 108 — Pictured: (l-r) Jane Levy as Zoey Clarke, Kapil Talwalkar as Tobin — (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC)

So, is Tobin Team Max or Team Simon?

“It’s not a straightforward answer because Tobin would not know the depth of relationship that Zoey has with Simon, that’s something that she’s sort of kept personal. And know Tobin knows that Max and Zoey are friends, so not knowing any of the Simon stuff I think he would want what’s best for Zoey,” which would be Max. Probably, “because I think Tobin secretly loves to gossip, and I think he would love talking dirt about Zoey and Max speculating at lunch or something.”

To be fair, Leif did say everyone knew, so I bet this conversation has already happened. More than once.

But Kapil also had an answer, separate from his character’s “I think it’s a long game and I think that right now in Zoey’s life – with what’s going on with her dad – what she needs is someone who understands who that man is, so right now she needs someone like Max. But that could change.”

“Simon needs to heal and kind of go through his own stuff, and Zoey also needs to figure herself out too,” before there’s a definite answer.

More reason for that season 2 that we desperately need, right? Right?

Finally, Kapil was very candid about what he’d like to see from Tobin going forward: “I would love to see Tobin fall in love, see what that would be like. I would (also) like to deep dig into Tobin’s sense of masculinity and challenge it, challenge what he thinks being a strong man is, and I want to see him grow in that direction.”

Are the writers taking notes?

Plus, “I would love to learn about his background, it seems like he comes from a troubled family, and I would like to see him deepen the relationships between the people that are around him, maybe Max a little bit more, obviously Zoey. I want him to develop a sense of connection with the people around him,” other than Leif.

For us here at Fangirlish, we’ll take that season two and a lot more Tobin. We were already fans of the character, but after this interview with Kapil Talwalkar you can count us as fans of him, as well.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist airs Sundays at 9/8c on NBC.

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