- “Never Have I Ever” star Darren Barnet spoke to Insider about season two’s Paxton-centric episode.
- He said that Gigi Hadid “came in very last minute and had very little time” to narrate the episode.
- “We had no idea who to expect, so it was a really nice surprise,” he said.
“Never Have I Ever” star Darren Barnet said that supermodel Gigi Hadid stepped in on short notice to narrate Paxton Hall-Yoshida’s thoughts on season two of the hit Netflix show.
“I thought she was amazing,” Barnet told Insider via
on Tuesday. “She obviously came in very last minute and had very little time. I think she had to do the entire episode in 24 hours. And she killed it. I mean, we had no idea who to expect, so it was a really nice surprise.”
Fans first met Barnet’s jock with a heart of gold on season one of “NHIE” which became a breakout hit upon its release in April 2020.
Cocreated by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, and inspired by Kaling’s own childhood in America, the coming-of-age series was applauded for its diversity and representation. “NHIE” also features tennis legend John McEnroe as an unlikely narrator, giving voice to the thoughts of protagonist Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan).
Season one featured “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” star Andy Samberg guest-starring as the narrator for Ben Gross (Jaren Lewison), Devi’s overachieving academic rival and on-again, off-again love interest.
Following Samberg’s narration, fans, as well as Barnet, expressed interest in a Paxton-centric episode that would similarly peel back the layers of Sherman Oaks High School’s 16-year-old heartthrob.
Season two delivered on an episode dedicated to Paxton, though it underwent a few changes prior to its release.
Chrissy Teigen was originally set to guest star and narrate episode three, but exited the show in June after model Courtney Stodden told The Daily Beast that Teigen cyberbullied them when they were 16. Teigen called herself “an insecure, attention-seeking troll” and apologized to Stodden in a Twitter thread.
Paxton’s episode opened with Hadid acknowledging that she might be an unexpected choice to narrate his thoughts, but she related to him because they’re “both constantly underestimated because people only see us as sex symbols.”
Barnet told Insider that he too relates to Paxton’s struggle. The actor said that he was “very academically inclined” in high school and took AP (Advanced Placement) classes, which constantly took people by surprise.
“The amount of times I would hear, ‘Oh, I didn’t know you were smart…'” Barnet recalled. “And it was meant as a compliment, but obviously it doesn’t sound like one.”
The aforementioned episode gave viewers further insight into the character’s home life and inner thoughts, and Barnet said that he most enjoyed learning about why “Paxton doubts himself academically.” Season two as a whole also explored Paxton’s Japanese ancestry and his relationship with his grandfather, Theodore Yoshida (Clyde Kusatsu), which Barnet called “pure magic on screen.”
With season three already confirmed, Barnet is curious to see if Paxton pursues swimming or decides to “do something more ambitious on the academic side.” The actor is just as interested as fans are in seeing how Paxton will navigate his relationship with Devi.
Based on the finale’s cliffhanger, there’s also much to be unpacked regarding the love triangle involving Devi, Paxton, and Ben — but Barnet insists that he’s “team Devi” after the events of season two.
“It’s going to be his first real public relationship,” Barnet said. “We’ll see how he deals with the PDA and having her around him all the time when he’s not used to that. But it’s something he ran to the dance for and chased, so maybe he’ll love it. But I’m sure Devi will find a way to make it very interesting.