Ever felt like you just didn’t seem to fit in with everyone else? That there must be something slightly off about you? That’s the feeling that Fox’s new sitcom, “Weird Loners,” attempts to portray. It features four, er, weird loners, who find each other and become a sort of surrogate family for each other despite their oddness. The series stars Becki Newton (“Ugly Betty”) as Caryn Goldfarb, a perpetually relationship-challenged oddball. We talked to Newton about being weird, and getting her big break.
So what makes Caryn weird?
Caryn’s weird because every time she gets an ounce of a glimmer of hope in a relationship, she starts planning her wedding. And she can’t help herself. It happens every time. One would think she would learn. You’d think that after scaring three, four, five guys away with her enthusiasm, she’d become less enthusiastic. It makes her more enthusiastic, she tries harder, and is so optimistic and so needy and so clingy that it actually does the inverse of what she’s hoping for. It pushes everyone really far away from her.
Will she be self-reflective about that?
I don’t think so. And that’s what I love about her. In other shows I’ve read, the characters behave badly, realize they behave badly, and change. What I love about this show, is they behave badly, maybe realize they behave badly, and then do it all over again. You know they’re going to do it, but you can’t look away.
Is weird loner an unfair term?
No, it’s totally accurate. I think it actually can apply to every person on earth. I don’t care what you look like, I don’t care who you are. What’s endearing about it is we all feel like total weirdos at different times in different situations. I don’t know anyone who’s totally comfortable walking into a room of people they don’t know. We’ve all felt like outsiders, we’ve all felt weird. I often act really spazzy when I’m uncomfortable. I often start laughing maniacally. There are things that we just do in moments of discomfort. And I think that looks different on all different people and the reasons we’re weird are different.
There's a suggestion that your character and Zachary Knighton's might have a bit of a romance. Will we see more of that?
We will see more of it. They are like magnets, because he’s a jerk and she’s nerdy. Like, that is an equation right there.
For a beautiful romance?
A beautiful romance. But because they’re stuck in such close proximity, he can’t do his normal thing where he kind of uses her and gets out of there and never has to hold himself accountable. They live next door. So she also able to see him in ugly moments and hold him accountable. She might even get more swagger. She’s like, "Wait, you’re not that cool. I see you in the morning when you wake up and you’re gross. And you’re not exactly what you try to present to the world."
Did you always want to go into comedy, or did you just start getting cast that way?
It really did happen. I was doing Olive Garden commercials, and I was psyched about them and then I got this part of Amanda on "Ugly Betty," and it was very different from who I am but allowed me to stretch. It allowed me to have so much fun with people who were great at what they did. So I learned and I became comfortable with over the top comedy and physical comedy. I think from here there’s a lot I want to do and try out. I didn’t know I would do well as a drunk, promiscuous receptionist until I was cast as that part and got to play around.
What were you selling for Olive Garden?
Bread sticks. It was awful. I was a hostess, and I was psyched about it. I was a great Olive Garden hostess selling bread sticks and helping a lovely blonde woman find her seat. I was really excited about it.
Well, everyone needs their big break.
That was my big break. As far as I was concerned, huge break.
Did you get any free food from Olive Garden?
Never. But it did air during "Ugly Betty," and I wanted to die. Because I was still trying to pretend that I was a legitimate actress. Like I hadn’t told anyone I’d just done commercials and then I remember being in the makeup trailer with Vanessa Williams and America Ferrera and I looked up and I saw it because they had TVs and I tried to, like, cause a commotion in the other end of the trailer.
Did it work?
No. And they ended up making an episode where Amanda had done a commercial for a restaurant called Medieval Times and basically made fun of the entire situation, which I really appreciated.