Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist star Felix Mallard teases Aiden and Zoey's 'connection'
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Zoey's got a new (old) neighbor on Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, and he's most definitely going to be worth all the noise he's been making in the garage with his band.
When Zoey (Jane Levy) learned that her childhood friend moved back home to his parents' house next door at the end of last week's episode, she was not expecting to see him... well, all grown up. She remembered him as a "little Australian chunk-a-munk" and "little butterball," but when she went over to his house to ask him to keep the noise down during his band practice, she couldn't seem to remember why she wanted to complain in the first place when faced with the tall, hot, '90s grunge rocker standing in front of her, inviting her inside to hang out.
Meet Aiden (Felix Mallard), the newest guy in Zoey's life who came back home at the perfect time. "Fans are really going to resonate with Aiden because he's just so much fun," Mallard tells EW of his new character. "He's one of those people that just brighten up a room whenever you're around him because he brings people into that energy, he brings you into his fun, no limits kind of world. He's a blast from the moment he comes onscreen to the moment he leaves."
Below, EW got Mallard to tease the "connection" that Aiden and Zoey share, what fans can expect from him after that electric "Sex and Candy" performance, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You had quite the entrance at the end of last week's episode. What was it like getting to debut Aiden with such a legendary song like "Sex and Candy"?
FELIX MALLARD: That was awesome. I was so, so thrilled that that was the first one. I'm not a typically musical theater-trained guy so to have the opportunity to do something that was a little bit more rocked up and more grungy was awesome because that's the music I play and the music I love to play. And it's an awesome song. It's got such an iconic riff so I was stoked that they gave that one to me. I like that Aiden plays in a band because it gives the show an opportunity to sort of explore some new kinds of songs.
What's your musical background prior to coming onto the show?
Music has been with me forever, basically. My dad played guitar and he still plays guitar so he was always singing and playing for me when I was growing up. I picked up a guitar when I was about seven or eight, I think, and I've just been trying my hardest since then. [Laughs] I also started playing piano when I was about 10, and then picked up the drums with my band when I was about 12 or 13, and singing sort of came along with that.
What kind of music are you into?
I love the classics. Jimi Hendrix is my No. 1 guy. But I had a thorough education in Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, all the earlier blues stuff like Muddy Waters, B.B. King. All of the old school guitar stuff is really my bread and butter. And then more recently, I've just been hip-hop 24/7.
What other songs are you getting to sing on the show moving forward?
It's not what you expect in a really good way. In a really, really fun way we set up Aiden and we show who he is with "Sex and Candy," that is very much in the vein of who he is. And the songs to come are kind of an exploration and a deviation into his psyche rather than who he is as a person.
So who is Aiden and why is he going to be so important in Zoey's life?
Aiden was Zoey's next door neighbor growing up. He's recently graduated from college, he's just returned from backpacking around Thailand, and he moved back in with his parents. He works in an ice cream shop, and he's trying to launch his garage band in the meantime. The big thing about Aiden is he lives one day at a time, he just takes things as they come, and he lives with this sort of — it's not reckless abandon, it is, "I'm here, I'm living, and whatever happens is going to be great because we're going to tackle it head on." He's this very free-spirited, fun, funky kind of guy. And then when Zoey comes back into his life, he becomes the antithesis to everything that she's been struggling with. She's lost her father, she's having a really tough time, we're exploring a lot of that within this season and meeting Aiden gives her a bit of reprieve from that and allows her to explore herself again and explore what she really wants. He provides this freedom for her to experiment a little bit, if you know what I mean.
What are we going to see from Aiden and Zoey in this week's episode now that they've reconnected?
The biggest thing about Aiden and Zoey's connection is he really inspires her to live a little bit more rebelliously. So if you can imagine the sorts of things that that could mean, I reckon you'd be on the right track. [Laughs] He really just wants her to have fun, wants her to have a good time, and wants to reconnect with her at the same time during that.
It looked like some sparks were flying between Aiden and Zoey, even just in that one scene that we've seen so far when she breaks up his band practice. Is that something we should keep our eyes on?
Yeah, look, I think you're going to have to watch to find out with that one. They definitely do have a connection from that start, but where it goes has yet to be seen. Because Aiden really is aiding her — aiding her story — he is helping her come out of herself, it has been great. We've just been able to chat about the levity that he can bring and what Zoey then means to him in turn.
What are you getting to do with Aiden that you've never gotten to do before with a role?
My experience on this show is that I feel challenged but I don't feel out of my depth, which is an amazing place to be. I have never done singing or dancing on TV before and I've gotten to work with the amazing Emmy Award-winning Mandy Moore so I'm in incredible, incredible hands on the dancing and I'm working with [musical consultant] Charlie Alterman with the music and the voice side. I have these incredible people to guide me in unfamiliar territory. But it's been so much fun. Being able to explore the music and the singing and the dancing is something that I've never personally felt too comfortable with and I've pushed myself into that arena with Zoey's Playlist. It's been an incredibly humbling and beautiful experience.
You also have a role in Netflix's upcoming series Ginny & Georgia that's coming out in just a few weeks. That's incredible timing.
It's funny, these things, you shoot them so long ago, and then it's been like a year of just waiting and hoping that people like it. It's just going to blow people away. I can't wait. When it rains, it pours. I am so, so incredibly lucky to even have a job right now after this year. To be working is just an insane privilege for an actor right now so that's certainly not lost on me. And the fact that it's all coming out right now is incredibly exciting. I just hope people watch. Both of these shows provide a comfort, but more an escape, a reality with which you can live and you can dream in for a little bit and take your mind off what has been going on at the moment.
Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist season 2 airs Tuesdays on NBC.
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