“I wept so hard,” admits Skylar Astin about filming an emotional seven-minute sequence in the season finale of NBC’s musical comedy “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” in which the cast sings “American Pie” while mourning the loss of Mitch, played by Peter Gallagher.
“I love how the show is born out of almost a coping mechanism for our show’s creator Austin Winsberg, whose father tragically died from PSP, the disease that Mitch on our show, has and so I think it’s really lovely that it comes from a real place.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Astin above.
In “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,” after a freak accident Zoey Clarke (Jane Levy) can see and hear strangers, friends and family unknowingly sing about their intimate feelings to her through pop music. It’s an emotional roller coaster of a show that has become a hit with audiences. It wears its heart on its sleeve, especially when characters break out into the emotional song and dance numbers that punctuate each episode. Astin plays Max Richman, Zoey’s co-worker and closest friend, who harbors secret feelings for her that unconsciously bubble up to the surface every so often in song.
As noted by Astin, Gallagher’s character was inspired by Winsberg’s late father, who suffered from progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a rare and degenerative condition that paralyzes him. “The director’s note that Austin wrote before ‘American Pie,’ was how this is really a piece on life, acceptance and moving on,” he says. “I felt so emotional and so proud to be a part of something that was saying something and honoring this man and this rare disease.”
Regarding the finale sequence, Astin explains, “It’s a seven minute sequence that felt like two minutes each time there was a take. Take three or four was the first time we got through it and we did two more as insurance and I think that second to last take was the one we used and we all had time to gather in the kitchen after we all watched playback and,” he sighs. “I get emotional just talking about it because we always knew it was important but when we also knew we were going to reach people through something very artful, I just feel like that is something very rare.”
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