Metro Weekly

Harvey Guillén on playing a ‘definitely queer’ George in ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’

Taking a break from coddling vampires, Harvey Guillén breaks out into song on NBC's musical comedy

Harvey Guillen as George in “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” — Photo: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC/Lionsgate

“I was in San Francisco for a photo shoot when the offer…came in,” Harvey Guillén says of his guest-starring role in Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. The hit NBC musical dramedy is set in the City by the Bay, and Guillén thought to himself, “If this isn’t kismet, I don’t know what is.”

Guillén had to turn down the role because of a scheduling conflict with his main gig on FX’s hit What We Do In The Shadows. But when shooting for the third season of the vampire comedy series was delayed due to the pandemic, it cleared a path for the actor to join the Zoey’s cast for the first few episodes of season two as George, a coworker of the titular character’s.

Guillén describes George as “definitely queer” and “a people pleaser.” He’s the type “you might look at and think, ‘Wow, he has a lot of energy. He’s just so lovable and fun, and nothing’s going wrong with him.’ But you never know what’s going on with someone and what they’re masking.”

Which is part of the show’s design: Zoey, played by Jane Levy, is able to hear the innermost thoughts and feelings of the people around her — but only expressed through song, specifically covers of pop hits.

The insights generally spur her to take action in some way — including confronting the office bully after George sings Melissa Manchester’s “Don’t Cry Out Loud.” It culminates in a particularly touching scene between Zoey and George.

“That was the first scene I shot with Jane,” Guillén says. “She’s such a brilliant actor, such a giving actor. We did the scene, and in the first take both of us were crying. It was such a sweet moment between the two characters that we just let them feel, and that’s what came out of it.”

Guillén calls Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, which also stars Alex Newell as a genderfluid next-door neighbor, the type of show you eagerly recommend to friends. “Trust me, you’ve got to watch it. It’s great storytelling. And this cast deserves to be seen.”

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist airs new episodes every Tuesday at 8 p.m. on NBC. Prior episodes can be streamed on NBCUniversal’s Peacock app. Visit www.nbc.com or www.peacocktv.com.

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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @ruleonwriting.

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