Kapil Talwalkar talks meeting the real Tobin in our exclusive interview

ZOEY'S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST -- "Zoey's Extraordinary Dad" Episode 112 -- Pictured: Kapil Talwalkar as Tobin -- (Photo by: James Dittiger/NBC)
ZOEY'S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST -- "Zoey's Extraordinary Dad" Episode 112 -- Pictured: Kapil Talwalkar as Tobin -- (Photo by: James Dittiger/NBC) /

Kapil Talwalkar on Tobin’s arc in Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 2

Fans of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist know Kapil Talwalkar as Tobin, the brogrammer with all the misogynistic jokes. Remember when he assumed Zoey and Joan were “painting each other’s nails” in a business meeting? That was only Episode 1!

But then, we started to see hints that Tobin might not be whoever he pretended to be. When there was a crisis with some of his company’s technology, he feared it was all his fault. And his heart song, “Don’t Speak,” was all about feeling left out.

So, who exactly is Tobin? If our conversation with Kapil Talwalkar ahead of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 2 is any indication, we might finally find out.

Kapil Talwalkar teases getting to know Tobin in our exclusive interview

Hidden Remote: Congratulations on being bumped up to series regular.

Kapil Talwalkar: Thank you! I’m so grateful for that.

HR: Does that mean we’ll get to see more of Tobin, outside of just flitting around, making jokes?

Kapil Talwalkar: They definitely expanded my role. There’s actual storyline that happens with Tobin this season in a more meaningful way than just being the funny guy at the office. I’m really, really excited for everybody to see that.

HR: Every time Zoey gave Tobin that look in Season 1 and asked, “what’s wrong with you,” he would come up with something that you’d deliver as a joke…But the lines aren’t actually funny. Is any of that going to be addressed?

Kapil Talwalkar: I think that Tobin is very misguided. That comes from insecurity, wanting to fit in, and being in his own world. Oftentimes, he gets away with that stuff because people can interpret that as him not knowing what he’s saying or being oblivious, but Tobin’s got a lot to learn.

I’m excited to see him peel away more of those layers to his sensitivity and the actual sweet human being that we can all see and know is deep down inside but has been misunderstood and misguided along the way.

HR: Kind of along those lines, in the past, Tobin really only had one friend: Leif. Is there anyone else?

Kapil Talwalkar: Toward the end of last year, you saw his relationship with Zoey getting better. She helped him and cheered him up in Episode 8 when he had the watch meltdown. I’m excited to explore the Zoey/Tobin relationship just as much as the Leif/Tobin relationship. The Leif/Tobin relationship is familiar to him, while the Zoey/Tobin relationship is like…Zoey can hold him to be better.

How does Zoey help Tobin see stuff that he wouldn’t be able to see otherwise? How does she open him up a little bit more from his guarded…whatever that jokey self is?

HR: Would you say opening Tobin up has been your favorite part of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 2 so far, or are there some other things for viewers to look forward to?

KT: Absolutely. You really get to know Tobin as a human being, and those are the episodes that I’m looking forward to everyone getting to see. What is this guy’s purpose? What is lurking underneath the jokey facade, or even if it’s not a facade—even if it’s a part of who he is—why is he like that?

That has been super fun to explore because it has been incredibly collaborative and awesome in terms of getting my personal perspective on Tobin’s journey and where that comes from in terms of background. I felt very included in that conversation, and I’m very, very grateful that Tobin has received the care and attention that he has in Season 2.

Kapil Talwalkar as Tobin in Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist
ZOEY’S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST — “Zoey’s Extraordinary Dad” Episode 112 — Pictured: (l-r) Kapil Talwalkar as Tobin, Michael Thomas Grant as Leif — (Photo by: James Dittiger/NBC) /

HR: Would that then necessarily play into Tobin getting his own heart songs instead of just being background on the big group numbers at SPRQ Point?

Kapil Talwalkar: There could possibly be something, down the line, that is reflective of opening up to who Tobin really is as a person and that conflict. But I’m also excited for the, as you could see in the promo, there are some big brogrammer numbers.

There’s also Tobin in the group versus Tobin by himself and what he’s going through, so there’s that group mentality to explore. “Why is Tobin singing this in a group” versus “why is he singing this by himself.”

HR: Are there any upcoming musical numbers that have been the best for you?

KT: Yes. I think “Don’t Speak” was great? But this season, I’m excited for everyone to see, on a much deeper level, how the songs, and how I’ve sung the stuff this year, affect Tobin.

HR: Dance brought me to Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. What has that process been like this year with everything being…as it is?

KT: It’s been crazy.

Many people have mentioned that dance was one of the most fun aspects of Season 1. It has still been one of the most fun aspects of Season 2. And in the whole clinical mess of things, as we get to all the testing and the masks and everything, dance has consistently been the place where we feel safe and at home.

We have masks on at all times when we’re rehearsing. The only times we don’t have masks are when we’re shooting. It was weird for the first week; but then, we all got used to it. It became easier and easier to just dance.

Once we got the core group of people down with the rules and everything, everyone just knew their part and what they had to do to protect themselves and each other.

HR: That’s reassuring. I know dancing in a mask is not fun, from experience.

KT: [Laughs] Yeah.

HR: But, like you said, you get used to it.

KT: It’s also the type of mask, too. You’ve got to find the mask that works for you while dancing.

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist Kapil Talwalkar
ZOEY’S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST — “Zoey’s Extraordinary Boss” Episode 103 — Pictured: (l-r) Skylar Astin as Max, Kapil Talwalkar as Tobin, Programmer, Michael Thomas Grant as Leif — (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC) /

HR: Definitely. Moving on: As Tobin moves through the season—you’ve hinted at this a bit—is he getting that same connection with the audience that the series has always been so good about striking?

KT: Yes. There are definitely some episodes that you will get to see that. I hope that, whether in a good way or a bad way—that’s for the audience to decide—your perspective on Tobin might change a little bit.

Some people judged Tobin for who he was. They’re like, “I get who this person is. He’s a douchebag,” or “he’s a troublemaker.” I’m excited for people to be able to get to just know him more and to be like, “oh. Wait a second. This is where this all comes from.”

There’s a real sense of understanding how and why he operates the way he does.

HR: Is there anything about Tobin that you haven’t been asked but you want people to know?

KT: I’ll just say my favorite part of playing the character. Tobin is unapologetically in his own world. And to explore, for me, what that world is, what’s going on in that person’s headspace—and to create that, as an artist—is probably the most fun. Because I like to layer every joke, every line, every moment with the subtext of what is swirling around in his head.

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HR: I think that is a great place to end. I’m looking forward to seeing it play out. Thank you for your time, and stay safe out there.

KT: Yeah, you too! Thank you, as well.

You can catch Kapil Talwalkar as Tobin in Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 2 starting Jan. 5 at 8/9c on NBC.