Four unusual 30-somethings forge an unlikely friendship when their lives collide in their shared Queens, N.Y., townhouse. High-strung dental assistant Caryn (Becki Newton), her naive toll-collector neighbor Eric (Nate Torrence), his womanizing cousin Stosh (Zachary Knighton) and free-spirited artist Zara (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) have nothing in common, but they rely on each other as they work to improve their lives despite their charming character flaws.
Newton is best known for her role as Amanda, the vapid and snarky assistant on Ugly Betty. I asked Newton what she found similar between Amanda and Caryn, two seemingly different characters, and the actress revealed, “They’re both really messy on the inside. After playing Amanda, I would look for parts that were very different, I would look for parts that were more together, and less snarky and less vulnerable. Amanda was so extreme in so many ways, but I missed playing someone who said outright what she was feeling and I read Caryn and I said, ‘This is a messy person who’s not afraid to say, “This is what I want.”‘ There is an enthusiasm that is similar in both of those characters.”
It’s not very often that a death turns out comical, but in the pilot of Weird Loners, Eric’s father dies in an early scene, and while not sacrilegiously hilarious, it’s bitter sweet and gives a glimpse of the show’s heart. Baby-faced Nate Torrence is charming as Caryn’s simple-minded neighbor and his trusting nature brings out Caryn’s best. “She looks at him like a little brother; She’s a mother figure to him and she sees him as moldable,” explains Newton.
Zachary Knighton played Dave Rose on the well-liked ABC comedy, Happy Endings where he played a self-appointed “cool guy” who ended up couch surfing when his life fell apart. In Weird Loners, Knighton is Stosh, a self-appointed “cool, successful guy” who moves into his cousin’s house when his life falls into the crapper. So he’s really stretching his acting muscles, but at least he’s very easy on Caryn’s eyes. Newton says her character “Always falls for guys like Stash: hot, exciting and then they break her heart.” Much of the show’s pilot revolves around Caryn and Stosh’s in-your-face innuendo.
Meera Rohit Kumbhani is the show’s relative unknown; her loony free-spirited Zara is the actress’s first major role. I asked Newton her if she’d given her green co-star any advice, and she she admitted to being in awe of Kumbhani. “Merra showed up as though she’d done 20 series. She has such poise, she has such grace, she has such confidence,” Newton says. “She has a confidence, even through the audition process, I marveled at her self- possession. It’s one of the most attractive qualities that an actress can have and it usually takes a little while to gain it — either through success on a TV show or experience. Meera just knows who she is, knows what she brings to the table, and I thought she was fantastic, I was very inspired by her.”
Loner doesn’t necessarily mean “alone,” according to Newton. “Loner is a state of mind. These people get in their own way.” But since everyone is prone to bouts of insecurity, Newton believes there’s a weird loner inside of everyone, and the actress embraces her own quirks and those of her misguided character. “Yeah, I’m weird,” she proudly proclaims. “And I’m awesome.”
Weird Loners > FOX > Tuesdays at 9:30pm ET beginning March 31