We at Fangirlish are huge fans of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. So when we got a chance to interview the cast of the upcoming new movie, Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas, to say we were “excited” is an understatement. I sat down with Skylar Astin to talk about Max’s future, Clarkeman, and the making of the film.
Max had a lot of personal growth in the second season, between dealing with MaxiMo’s and the strained relationship with his father. Can you tell us where his head is at in the movie?
Well, at the end of season 2, we find Max at a bit of a crossroads personally, and also having this new ability. But also, you know, obtaining the love of his life, Zoey Clarke. So things are coming up Max right now. Actually, Max is feeling himself, as opposed to the start of Season 2 when he was kinda freshly fired and figuring out his life and what is he gonna do. So yeah. There’s nowhere to go but down, I’d say.
Oh no! That’s foreboding!
I mean, not necessarily, but…we’ve watched him for years struggle with the inequities or the inequalities of Zoey having the power and him not, and we’ve also seen him kind of be a little directionless in his career. So both of those things seem to be working for him.
How did it feel to portray Max on the opposite side of the power dynamic?
It was fun! I mean, it was really fun as an actor to, you know, do my very best Jane Levy impression and react to the music. And it’s honestly a really fortunate thing. I have been on the other side where I’m singing. I’ve also been in the frozen position when other people are singing and I’m supposed to be in reality while someone else is in what we like to call “Zoality” internally. And now we’ve coined the term “Maxality,” so when Max is hearing people sing that’s the -ality that we’re in. And it’s really great. I got to watch some really fun numbers, a really emotional number that I’m so happy that I got to have a front row seat for. So it was a really – it was a really fun experience as an actor.
I will say, as a fan, I’ve always been impressed by all of the cast’s ability to keep a straight face during the antics going on during songs. Are you able to tell us a little bit about what your favorite scene is or song is in the movie? Or hint?
Hmmmm. I can hint at the fact that there is a bit of a Hannukah element with my character. And there’s a bit of a Hannukah ditty that I get to kinda go through. But really all of it. I mean, I had a really good time. There’s also – we got to return back to our old park bench that Zoey and Max have had a lot of very pivotal, moving scenes at, so we were able to revisit that location. It was a bit warmer when we were filming it this time, so I wasn’t freezing as I always am. But, yeah, it was really great to revisit a lot of our favorite places.
Can’t wait! So fans have been hoping for more and David bonding ever since the morning after breakfast scene last season.
Can you tell us a little bit about Max’s interactions with the Clarke family? Outside of – we will get to the romance! Don’t worry.
Sure! No, I won’t get in the way of the romance. Any time I’m able to have scenes with Mary [Steenburgen], Alice [Lee], and Andrew [Leeds], it’s such a blast. I mean, they’re such great people. They’re such good friends of mine off-camera, and so, you know, we’ve had a couple scenes in passing, but this – since it’s a holiday family movie, and Max is an extension of the family now, being Zoey’s boyfriend, I got to have a lot of scenes in the kitchen, lots of scenes at the dining table, and really be a part of the family. There’s even a scene at the very end where we all enter together. It was just a really fun thing to be waiting on our cue. And there’s even the baby Miles in there. And I really felt like one of the Clarkes. And I know that’s something Max has wanted. And, selfishly, that’s something Skylar has wanted, too. So I got to do a lot of fun stuff with that group this time.
And fans have been wanting it too because Clarkeman, which is the romantic relationship between Zoey and Max, has a huge fan following. And we at Fangirlish are definitely at the top of that list. So our minds were blown in the finale when Max did get her powers. How does that development impact the relationship between the two of them?
Well, now he gets to kinda see what she’s been seeing, and what will be interesting to see in this movie is whether or not things come more naturally, more easily to him, or if he has the same struggles or even more struggles than Zoey does. And so it’s kinda – we get to kind of relearn a little bit about the powers and kind of – there’s really some funny callbacks and parallels that we also have too with Max now having the power.
Is there a chance that the dynamic between the two of you has kinda flipped on its head, where now it’s Zoey feeling maybe a little self-conscious about not knowing what she’s singing to Max?
Yeah! Or even the frustrations of battles that she’s already won. And now she has to kind of relive them through Max’s eyes, and maybe doing things a little differently or, in her opinion, wrong. So there’s definitely opportunity for growth and conflict and humor, for sure.
Excellent! So what would you like to see from another movie or another season of the show, for your character?
For my character?
Or in general.
In general, I think that we can go anywhere now. I really believe in filming this movie, and even seeing bits and pieces of it now, that we have like minted these characters. And so we can take them on vacation, we can take them to any holiday, put them in any scenario, and we know them, love them, we understand the rules. We understand the dynamics. And so if it’s “Zoey’s Extraordinary Vacation,” “Zoey’s Extraordinary Valentine’s Day,” Labor Day, whatever holiday you wanna do, I think it will not only work but actually be quite successful.
Possibly “Zoey’s Extraordinary Fiancé?”
I’m down! Well, Labor Day isn’t just a holiday, if you know what I mean.
That’s true. Max, as I hope you know, is so loved, he actually has his own group of fans called the Max Richman Protection Squad. I hope that’s not news to you.
I – That is news to me! That’s so sweet!
So on behalf of the Squad, what does it feel like to be part of a show (Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist) that has had such a profound impact on so many people?
Well, not only do I feel well-protected, I am also very flattered and honored! I mean, as an actor, you always want to be a part of something that has a passionate fanbase. And, truly, I mean this. This movie wouldn’t even be happening if it wasn’t for Roku picking up the pieces, but really the fans drumming up the support to keep these characters on their screen and in their hearts, and telling stories.
Can you tell me a little bit about how preparing for the movie was maybe different than preparing for the TV show?
Well, we did have the luxury of not being married to like a specific set of time, like on TV you have to – it has to be I guess for like, for an hour-long [episode], it has to be like 44 minutes, no more. You know, so we had the freedom to kinda let scenes run naturally. Sometimes we’d kill our darlings and have to let some of the funniest jokes or the meatiest scenes get trimmed. And we didn’t have to deal with that this time. And also, just structuring a movie. I mean, basically, like, the length of a double episode special. But really, other than that, it was kind of business as usual. We know what it takes to learn the choreography, lay down the vocals, and marry the performances. And, you know, that’s something we’ve been doing now for two seasons, so we’ve created this big factory up there in Vancouver. And we knew exactly where to pick up.
It has always been impressive to see how much you guys can learn the choreography and the singing. Did the movie format give you maybe a little bit more time to breathe in doing that? Or was it still kind of – it always seemed like a fast-paced process?
It was as fast and furious as any episode has been, if not even more. Because I think there was like thirteen numbers in this, and we were filming it in…fifteen days of filming. So I mean, we were cruising. As we always do. No, this show has never been easy, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. I think that the challenge is always rewarded when we get to watch it, and we know that. So there were no complaints going into this.
We did talk a little about how Max is kind of interacting a little bit more with the Clarkes. Can fans hope for perhaps some flashback scenes with Mitch? I don’t know if that’s a spoiler!
Um…you know, Mitch is very much a part of this movie in spirit, of course. And whether or not we see him in the flesh or in a picture or in a snow globe…you’ll just have to wait until December 1st to find out.
And other than…you said a Hannukah ditty, do we find out maybe more about any of your family traditions that maybe you’re carrying over now into your new dynamic with the Clarke family?
Yeah, we do! And we also get to see a little bit of Max learning traditions on the Christmas side. And more specifically the Clarke Christmas side. So, you know, it’s fun. I get to play a little bit of a fish out of water at times, which I really appreciate. And some really fun, good-spirited Jewish jokes are had.
We talked a little bit about the partnership with Mo and how that grew last season. Do we get to see any more of that dynamic in the movie?
We get to see a little bit of it! There’s a really lovely scene at the end especially. I mean, MaxiMo has become a set piece now, so anyone can exist there. And so there’s scenes that take place that Mo is in with Perry, that I’m not involved in. And then, you know, there’s scenes where I happen to be getting tea there and run into Mary’s character. I mean, that’s the greatest part about MaxiMo as like a storytelling device. It’s just, it’s a new location. It’s not SPRQ Point, it’s not the Clarke house, it’s not Zoey’s apartment. So, you know, we definitely get to see that set, and more specifically, we do get to see Max and Mo interact quite a bit.
Is there anybody that you’ve been wanting to do more scenes with that you get to explore a little bit more in the movie?
Yeah! Bernadette Peters. I got to actually do scenes with Bernadette Peters this time around. I’ve run into her on set a little bit, you know, off-camera. And, of course, her and I are like Instafriends, which I love. But we were able to actually do some scenes together. Some group scenes. Nothing just her and I. But…just to be on camera with her, having the next line as Bernadette Peters is very exciting. Also Alice and Andrew – David and Emily – I got to have a little more banter with them.
I hope this isn’t a surprise to you, but fans also affectionately refer to you as Spoiler Astin because you teased them so much last season on Twitter with made up and real spoilers. Are there any spoilers that you would like to drop now to get your fans—
On their toes? Hmmm…what’s something I can tell or maybe not tell? What an opportunity, to lie or not lie? I may or may not sing a Will Smith song.
Are you looking forward to Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas? Check out the trailer below, and don’t forget to leave a comment about what you’re looking forward to the most!