‘Kevin’ actors have had some weird jobs in the past

Punam Patel, from left, Paige Spara and Noah Reid participate in the “Kevin From Work” panel at the Disney/ABC Summer TCA Tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
Punam Patel, from left, Paige Spara and Noah Reid participate in the “Kevin From Work” panel at the Disney/ABC Summer TCA Tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Workplace comedies have always been popular, from the behind-the-scenes world of comedy writing on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” to the world of “The Office.” There’s another one the way: The new ABC Family series “Kevin From Work” is scheduled to launch at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12.

Kevin (Noah Reid) is a young man who declares his unrequited love for his coworker Audrey in a letter, believing he’ll never see her again after he accepts a job overseas. But when the job falls flat, Kevin is forced to return to the job and deal with his declaration.

Reid started acting when he was 6, so he never had an office job. He did run the VIP parking lot at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Toronto. Punam Patel, who plays Patti, worked in a cubicle world before escaping into the acting world. She was a journalism major who worked at several magazines.

“They ranged from, like, cool fashion magazines to, like, boring construction and business magazines. So I’ve definitely worked with a lot of boring people before, company excluded,” Patel says. “I think, for someone younger, it’s easy easier for someone like me to be social with my coworkers, but I felt like I had to instigate it a lot. There’s a lot of people that are strictly there to punch in and punch out. But you, kind of, also notice everyone’s weird little quirks, like in the break room or during lunch or during company outings. So it’s an interesting study of human nature.

Aaron Kaplan, one of the show’s producers, was a trainee at the William Morris Agency where everyone worked in cubicles. What he remembers is the anonymity of being involved in an office of a bunch of different people with different likes and dislikes and orbits that they all circulate in.

“You are as anonymous as you want to be,” he says. “Then, sometimes when you don’t want to be anonymous, it’s difficult to break out of that clutter with the office politics.”

Paige Spara, who plays Audrey, was the “Gossip Girl” TV movie tour bus guide in New York City.

“So I had to navigate a three hour bus tour around Manhattan and entertain a crowd of 60 people on those huge, like, charter buses and also talk about ‘Gossip Girl.’ I did not have cable. So I had to Netflix and binge watch 10 seasons in a week,” Spara says.

That was nothing compared to Matt Murray’s job where he would pretend to have medical symptoms to test doctors.

“I would have to play the symptom. And I’m young. So it was always an STD. So I had, like, syphilis,” Murray, who plays Brian, says. “The doctor would come in. And you would feel so bad because you have your lines to say, and you know what their response is supposed to be because we do preparation and things before it. It’s so heartbreaking to see how nervous these guys are. They are, like, ‘Okay. So what’s the problem?’ I’m, like, ‘Um, I’m having some fluid come out.’ And they are, like, ‘Where?’ And I’m, like, ‘Well, you know,’ (looks to his genitals) because you have to interact like a young guy who is embarrassed to have an STD does. So I did that a lot to live.”

Catching up with Hannah

Because actors are always getting new jobs in films or on TV shows, there are times when I’ll talk to a celebrity several times in the same year. Then, there have been those actors who have not crossed my path in decades. That’ was the case with Daryl Hannah.

The first time I interviewed her was 26 years ago while I was working in Louisiana. The movie, “Steel Magnolias,” was being filmed in a nearby town and I got to talk to the cast. Hannah went on star in numerous movies but I never got the chance to chat with her.

That changed during this summer’s Television Critics Association tour. Hannah was at the event to talk about her current Netflix series, “Sense8.” The series looks at eight people around the world who suddenly are linked together. Hannah plays a mysterious connection for the group.

Hannah has appeared on TV shows over the years, but this is her first commitment to a series. She was drawn to the project by Andy and Lana Wachowski, who are the creative force behind the series along with J. Michael Straczynski.

“I was such a fan of their creative genius,” Hannah says. “When I met them, their humanity was so beautiful to me. And, their intention of trying to tell a story that had these complex beings and this interconnectedness impressed me.”

Hannah was willing to commit because she doesn’t see “Sense8” as typical television. The way the 12 episodes were shot and because it can be viewed all at once on Netflix made the project look more like a feature film to her.

The actress explains that she’s been working long enough to know when a unique project like this one comes along.

Hannah doesn’t have a major presence in the first season, but that didn’t stop her from sending pages of questions about her character to the creators. She didn’t get a lot of direct answers but was given enough information to help her play the role.

One thing Hannah understood without help is the way a group of people have to work together to make something work properly. She says that when a cast has that kind of connection, the project is going to turn out better.

Hannah likes it when there is little or no negative energy on a set. That means she can put her entire focus on the acting. She’s shared that approach with her young co-stars explaining to them nothing matters but the art. It’s advice that Robert Redford gave her years ago.