Darren Barnet plays the one and only Paxton Hall-Yoshida in Netflix’s ‘Never Have I Ever’ and spoke with HL about season 2 hopes, whether Paxton and Ben could be friends, and his role in the Marvel universe.
Never Have I Ever debuted in April on Netflix and became an instant hit. The series follows Indian-American teen Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), an overachieving sophomore trying to navigate high school after the loss of her father. Throughout the first season, Devi pines over the dreamy Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet) and goes head-to-head with her supposed archenemy Ben Gross (Jared Lewison). Slowly but surely, the beginnings of a love triangle began to form as fans decided whether or not they’re Team Paxton or Team Ben.
Darren told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY that he would love to see the tables be turned on Paxton in season 2. “What I would like to see is Paxton in a role reversal with Devi, where he maybe is pining for her,” Darren said. He doesn’t think it would be a “great message” to have it be so easy for Paxton. “I think it’d be interesting seeing Paxton who’s always had everything come so easily have a girl that he likes that he may not be able to acquire. I think that’d be interesting to watch,” he continued.
From the very beginning, Darren wanted Paxton to be more than just a stereotypical jock character. “It was really a treat Mindy [Kaling] and Lang [Fisher] both took time to let us know why they chose us,” Darren revealed. “They were like, ‘Look, you guys fit the bill, but it’s what you brought to it. We want you to bring yourself to these characters, and we want this to be an open playground for you to test things out or ask us to add things.’ It was just a very open platform, which was great. I just made it my mission when they said he’s a jock and an aloof heartthrob, but he has a heart of gold, so I really wanted to focus on the heart of gold part. Obviously, I was in the gym 6 days a week trying to get the body that they wanted and that I would be proud of for camera, but I really wanted to make him human. I’ve always been somewhat of a book judged by my cover, so I wanted to give people great things to read beyond that.”
Paxton and Ben don’t have much interaction in season 1, but that could change in season 2. Darren doesn’t see why these two couldn’t end up friends one day. “I would say I would love to have a scene where Ben tries out for the swim team, and he wants to swim so bad and I become his Mr. Miyagi in a way,” Darren said. “I think that’d be so fun. I definitely think that they could be friends. I don’t think Paxton’s closed to it. Ben has his reservations because that’s his competition. Season 2 could be interesting. You know, spoiler alert, they [Devi and Ben] end up kissing at the end, so season 2 could be a very interesting little rivalry dynamic.”
The show hasn’t been renewed for season 2 (yet), but Darren revealed that he would love to see Paxton’s “home life a little bit more” in a second season. He wants to explore the dynamic with Paxton’s little sister Rebecca, who has Down syndrome, and his parents. On top of that, Darren wants to know what Paxton’s plans are after high school. There’s so much to dive into with Paxton!
In addition to Never Have I Ever, Darren is currently guest-starring on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Freddy Malick, the father of Gideon Malick, who eventually becomes the future head of HYDRA in America. Freddy plays a major role in the final season, and Darren opened up about the complexities of the role.
“What I love about this character is that he’s on the verge of choosing his path — good or bad,” Darren told HollywoodLife. “He seems like a good-hearted individual, but he’s faced with an opportunity here in becoming a thread for HYDRA. It’s such an interesting dynamic here because without HYDRA being formed, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will never have been formed. So the question is: do we let him get murdered or kill him ourselves? But if we do that, S.H.I.E.L.D. will never form. But then again, if they kill me, HYDRA will never form and a lot of lives will be saved.”
Later this year, Darren will also star in American Pie Presents: Girls’ Rules, the next movie in the American Pie franchise. The movie has the formula of American Pie, but it’s “through the lens of a female-driven cast.” This female-centric movie “shows that women can be vulgar about sex, too. They have locker room talk amongst each other, [and] there doesn’t need to be this shameful taboo towards it.”