‘Barb and Star’ Breakout Reyn Doi Talks His Kristen Wiig Friendship and the New Film

(Featured image courtesy of Cate Cameron and Lionsgate)

In late 2019, a mysterious trailer began popping up in theaters everywhere. Not available anywhere online, the teaser for Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar told the story of two best friends who decide to take a vacation together, set to Madonna’s “Holiday.” Cheekily referencing the fact that they didn’t want to give away anything about the movie, the actors’ faces weren’t even revealed. Of course, a quick Google search would tell you that this movie was the long-awaited new project from Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, the Oscar-nominated duo behind modern comedy classic Bridesmaids. Originally set to premiere in the summer of last year, the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a delayed release on VOD this year.

One of the movie’s most influential characters is Yoyo, a young newspaper delivery boy from Barb and Star’s neighborhood who ends up being sucked into the plot of an evil mastermind who has some shadowy plans for the Vista Del Mar vacationers. Portrayed wonderfully by the charismatic and hilarious Reyn Doi, the character soon became a favorite among fans. TV Wasteland had the opportunity to speak with Doi about working on the new comedy film, his friendship with Kristen Wiig, the colorful world of Vista Del Mar.

Reyn Doi as Yoyo in Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar. Photo Credit: Richard Foreman, Jr. SMPSP and Lionsgate

Ever since Reyn was young, it was obvious he had a real talent for performing. When he was just four years old, he was an emcee at a preschool show, and “after the performance, everyone came up to me and complimented me,” saying that he’d done so well for someone so young. “Then I realized that I enjoyed being in front of the camera, and I got used to it,” and an acting journey was kickstarted. His first major television role came on the first season of Showtime’s Kidding, alongside Jim Carrey. “I was really excited, being able to work on the show.” His big moment came when it was time to belt out “All of Me” by John Legend during a fantastic piano lesson scene.

Doi heard about the audition for Barb and Star while he was in Hawaii (where he was born and raised), and after a couple rounds of callbacks, he was contacted to do a virtual meeting with director Josh Greenbaum. “I was really excited, and then two hours before the meeting, I was at my house… getting prepared, and then all of a sudden, we have no Wifi.” Long before the pandemic even began, Reyn was experiencing the sudden fear of having no Internet right before an important meeting. He and his mom left in a hurry to find some place with a connection, ending up at McDonalds. “Luckily, everything went smooth, and a week later, I found out I booked the job.”

Doi ended up sharing a lot of scenes with Kristen Wiig, and he applauded her performance and professionality on set. On his first day of shooting, he was preparing in the hair and makeup room when a woman walked in “with mosquito bites all over her face, and she was wet and smelled like the ocean.” He remembers his mom coming up to him and saying, “That’s Kristen Wiig.” Because she was so unrecognizable under all the makeup, he didn’t believe her, but he went up and introduced himself, and it turned out his mom was right. “We hugged, and I felt an instant connection.” Throughout filming, “I would watch her perform her monologues… and she never dropped out of character, and she was so focused.” He also highlighted her improvisation skills and her fantastic facial expressions. His character is both very comedic and delightfully villainous, and since it was Reyn’s first opportunity to play a character with such wonderful duality, “I feel I really got to explore my acting.”

The film is a bright and colorful adventure, and the gorgeous filming location in Mexico couldn’t have catered better to the zany plot. According to Doi, “What you see on your television is exactly what happened when shooting it. It was a very relaxed, interactive, and comfortable set, which was very nice.” He described it as a very positive place to be, with “no negative vibes,” and it sounds like a lot of that had to do with the rest of the cast, especially Wiig. “As a person, Kristen is so kind and polite, and she has so much love in her.” On the last day of shooting, Reyn’s mom ended up having stomach pains, and he recalls Kristen coming in to rub her back and help her work through the issue, and “me and my mom were in awe and shocked and thankful.” Unfortunately, his mother ended up having to go to the hospital, and even though he admitted that he was nervous, Reyn still showed up to set. There, he remembers Kristen constantly doing her best to lift his spirits and help him through the stressful experience, and “without her, I don’t think I could have gotten through that day.” Doi had nothing but praise for everyone involved, emphasizing how Jamie Dornan especially “was so kind and helped me a lot.”

Even though the film had a longer road to release than expected, Doi was still an integral part of the promotion, with his initial scene, delivering newspapers while singing along to Barbra Streisand, becoming a focus of the marketing. The YouTube comments of the first teaser prove that people were majorly attracted to the film by his hilarious performance, saying that they hoped he would be appearing beyond that one scene. “I’m very thankful to be a part of Barb and Star’s marketing, and I was able to reconnect with Kristen” and director Josh Greenbaum right before the film was released.

Doi has two upcoming guest roles on Nickelodeon shows, the second of which he is currently filming. He will be voicing Box Kid in Boss Baby: Family Business, which is set to be released this September. A series regular role in a still-to-be-announced ABC show is in his near future as well. We can’t wait to see more of this rising young star in the future, and if you’re just as excited as we are, be sure to check out Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, available on video on demand right now.

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