Q & A: Becki Newton and Zachary Knighton on Their First Acting Jobs, ‘Weird Loners’ and more!

'Weird Loners' starring Becki Newton and Zachary Knighton

Becki Newton (Ugly Betty) and Zachary Knighton (Happy Endings) star in FOX’s new comedy, Weird Loners. The show, about four relationship-challenged mid 30-somethings who are unexpectedly thrust into one another’s lives, also stars Nate Torrence (Hello Ladies) and newcomer Meera Rohit Kumbhani.

The two stars recently had a conference call for the show where they talked about the show and getting their parts and how much they’re like the characters they play. And don’t miss what they had to say when I asked them what their first professional acting jobs were. Great stuff!

Weird Loners airs on Tuesdays at 9:30pm on FOX.

The four of you seem like you have a lot of fun on set filming this.   Can you talk about kind of your relationship off set and also during filming, kind of just how that is?

Becki Newton: Well I think what works so well, and you can see right away from the very first episode, we all started, and there was a very easy chemistry between us as though we’ve all been working together a very long time. And I know that’s, that it made filming so much more fun and so much easier, and we were able to really play around from day one. If there wasn’t a learning curve, that I’ve had in the past where you sort of get to know each other and become more comfortable, we all arrived pretty ready to go.

Zachary Knighton: Yes, we love each other. Do you want me to expand on that? Like those guys are so funny and everybody comes from a television background. I think we’re all kind of pros. I guess Meera is like the newcomer, but it doesn’t feel like it. She feels like the coolest customer of all of us but—

Becki Newton: She feels like she’s been working for 50 years in TV and yet it was her first TV job. So you had sort of three of us who have been around the block a million times and then Meera who was just absolutely incredible. It all felt really easy from day one. Back to my bagel.

You said you had this natural sort of just feeling on the set.   Did the four of you do anything to try to bond more for the show, to try to get that sort of feeling after you started shooting?

Becki Newton: For me, I think what was so great is we didn’t need to force anything. Like I said, we showed up and from the minute we started there was an ease. We didn’t have to work any harder to create that chemistry. I think it’s one of those things that it’s either there or it’s not. I know also with Zach, our characters have a lot of chemistry and that’s something that, in my experience, it’s either there or it’s not, and it was so there with Zach.

I’ll speak for myself, I don’t want to speak for Zach, but I just thought it was this really comfortable, really easy, and therefore, very charming and believable.

Zachary Knighton: And I think it’s probably a testament to my performance ability—

Becki Newton: It is.

Zachary Knighton: Because I don’t believe I have any chemistry with Becki. Just kidding, I have great chemistry with Becki and Nate and Meera, and you know, Becki has a couple of kids at home so she’s a very good mom.   She’s always at home. Believe it or not, we actually, the rest of us would go out and have a couple of drinks every now and again. We try to get Newton to come with us, but usually [indiscernible]—

Becki Newton: I am, I do have a double life. That’s true.   But this is the first I’ve heard of these so-called drinks with the rest of the cast. Apparently, I wasn’t invited.

Zachary Knighton: You’re always invited. Can we—put us on mute. Just kidding.

You guys are both really good looking, but in the show they kind of ugly you up a little bit to like, so that you’re funny. Do they tell you these things before they do them, or are they just like okay come here, we’re going to mess up your hair or whatever?

Zachary Knighton: First of all, I think that they tried to make me better looking so now I’m a little bit confused about—

Becki Newton: I think the truth is we were very aware that these characters weren’t the typical ones you see on TV. So Michael, our creator, really wanted them to look as imperfect as their characters were. It wouldn’t make sense for these people to struggle so much in life, but have perfect hair and perfect skin and perfect clothes. So I think our creator rightfully really wanted these, the way these characters looked to reflect their situations in life.

Was it a straight offer or did you have to go through the long process of the network test and being in front of 40 people, picking and choosing at you?

Zachary Knighton: Straight offer, straight offer.

Becki Newton: Straight offer. I think we’re both very fortunate to have been chose in the past that have been really great platforms, and hopefully our work has spoken for itself enough and we have been able—

Zachary Knighton: How could a hundred—how could nine other series be wrong? Nine other canceled series be wrong?

Becki Newton: Exactly.

Well, look at it this way. With nine canceled series, at least your dollar quote goes up.

Zachary Knighton: Oh, definitely.

Becki Newton: Exactly.

Becki, is that how was the transition moving from Philadelphia or Connecticut to Los Angeles?

Becki Newton: Mostly the driving was the issue. I didn’t get behind the wheel for 3 years when I moved to LA because I was so terrified. I had gone to the university in Philadelphia then moved to New York, so for 10 years I didn’t drive and I was suddenly on the 405 and after 3 years of getting rides from my friends and my husband, I decided to get behind the wheel one day. I’m a late bloomer in many ways, and driving is another part of that. I just couldn’t do it, I was terrified.

What was the very first professional jobs that you guys had?

Becki Newton: I was paid to be Barney the dinosaur at children’s birthday parties and I got paid $25 per party, and after a summer of wearing this costume in 90 degree heat I was fired because apparently I wasn’t committed enough to the character.

Zachary Knighton: Wow.   That explains so much about you.

Becki Newton: It really does. Again optimism is the key word here. Optimism.

Zachary Knighton: My first job was this first movie called Cherry Falls about a murderer who kills virgins, and Jane Moore was the killer and Brittany Murphy was the lead in the movie. And I was cast only off my headshot because they were looking for someone to play Michael Bean in a flashback rape scene, and I was cast because I supposedly looked like young Michael Bean. There were no lines and I showed up to set to shoot my very first movie.   I was super excited, I couldn’t believe it, and when I got there, I went through makeup and hair and then this producer knocked on my door and he said, “I’m so sorry, there’s been a really big mistake. The names were switched with the headshots, we actually wanted to cast this other guy.” And the other person that they cast, the person they really casted was my roommate, and so I was fired from this job before I even did it.

I’m driving home and my roommate calls me and he says, “Oh my God, you wouldn’t believe it. Dude, I got cast in Cherry Falls, too.” And I just said, “Dude, no you got my job.” I went home, I was heartbroken.

And they called me that night at 2 a.m. when they wrapped and they said everybody feels so terrible about what happened that we actually created a character for you in this movie. And they gave me a part, which turned out to be way better where I play a guy who comes into the police station like a crazy guy. I think my character was named Mr. Rolly, and he comes into the police station claiming to be the serial killer. So I have this whole scene where I’m like improvising crazy mad, jumping on the counter of this police station claiming to be this killer.   So it actually turned out to be a much better part.

Becki Newton: This story gets way better as it goes on.

Zachary Knighton: And my buddy in the movie is black and white.

That’s the greatest story I’ve heard. Wow, nice.

Becki Newton: Yes, that’s great.

Zachary Knighton: Yes, it worked out pretty good. Not so well for my buddy, I’ll tell you that right now.

How close are the characters to you guys in real life?

Becki Newton: For me, there’s certain similarities. Like I’ve said in the past, unwavering optimism in the face of logic. When I do something, I’m in 100%. I happen to be a married mother of two, so in that respect my life is very different than Caryn’s life, but our attitudes about many things are similar. Like I said unwavering optimism.

Zachary Knighton: I would say I’m completely the opposite of my character. I probably have those kind of a*** personality traits but I’ve suppressed them for a long time and they’ve sort of disappeared but it’s fun to bring them to the surface and explore that and not have to pay the consequences, like I was saying earlier. But, yes, no I’m kind of the opposite. I feel like I’m not as concerned about running scams as Stosh is, but it’s so much fun to play that and for me it was just a great little exploration.

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