fun in the sun
Reyn Doi and Kristen Wiig on Barb and Star and Their Beautiful Friendship
When Reyn Doi opened the trailer for Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar on his bike, tossing newspapers and singing along to Barbra Streisand’s “Guilty” in his headphones, it was clear to the world that he would be a breakout star. The new film, co-written by and co-starring Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo as the titular best friends, tells the story of middle-aged Midwesterners who leave their small town for the bright lights of Florida. Barb and Star, which has arrived mid-pandemic, is bringing joy, flower leis, and a shirtless Jamie Dornan to cold living rooms around the country. But the film’s true ray of sunshine is the twelve-year-old Doi, who plays Yoyo, the sidekick to the evil Sharon Gordon Fisherman (also played by Wiig) who disguises himself as a paper boy. Doi, who was raised in Honolulu and now lives in Los Angeles, has also been seen in Showtime’s Kidding, belting “All of Me” by John Legend. After Barb and Star, he will appear in two Nickelodeon shows, an ABC series, and as a voice actor in the sequel to the 2017 children’s hit Boss Baby, The Boss Baby: Family Business, out in September. Below, Wiig called up Doi to discuss making their new movie, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and keeping a positive attitude.
KRISTEN WIIG: Reyn!
REYN DOI: Hi, Kristen!
WIIG: Oh my god, I’m so happy to talk to you.
DOI: I miss you so much! Thank you so much for talking and doing this with me!
WIIG: Anything for you, Reyn. We’ve been looking at all this footage and we just watched the movie again—I know we told you this, but you just brought such a light and fun energy and joy to this movie. We’re so happy that you did this part.
DOI: I’m glad that you picked me as Yoyo.
WIIG: I’m going to go back a little bit. So we know that you were living in Hawaii, but your family is from Japan, right?
DOI: My mom is from Japan, but we moved to Los Angeles together and now we’re here permanently.
WIIG: You’ve been very busy since we stopped filming, right?
DOI: Yes. Right now I am filming two Nickelodeon shows, and I already recorded for Boss Baby 2 in 2020, but it is coming out this year.
WIIG: That’s so exciting! Did you go and do a voice audition for it? How did that come about?
DOI: Well, when I did that audition, it was obviously before the pandemic. Then they called me in to do something in the booth for my lines. I booked the role while I was in Hawaii.
WIIG: That’s so great. Congratulations.
DOI: Thank you. I also have an ABC project, but I can’t really talk about that because I haven’t filmed it yet.
WIIG: Well, all of this is well-deserved because you are an extremely talented person. So I want to ask you about your audition process. When you get the script to audition, does your mom read the lines with you? Do you guys work together?
DOI: Well, for Barb and Star, I auditioned in Hawaii. It was a regular audition. But actually, at first, I didn’t know it was such a big film. And then when I booked it, I was like, “Oh my goodness! You are in the movie!” I was so happy, I actually think I might’ve cried. I did watch Bridesmaids.
WIIG: I hope you did it when you were older.
DOI: My mom covered my eyes for the inappropriate parts. I laughed so hard.
WIIG: Oh, good. When you get a script, do you kind of read it over to yourself? Do you go over it with your mom? How do you approach your auditions?
DOI: First I read it over, and then my acting coach helps me prepare for the audition, whether it’s on a self-tape or if I’m going in. My coach helps me a lot.
WIIG: I have to ask about your dance experience because you are such an incredible dancer and it brings me so much joy. You just have so much fun when you do it and you’re so free. Have you been dancing for a long time? Did you take dance classes or anything before acting?
DOI: I started dancing when I was four. I think that’s why I love dancing, especially with you. I love to get all my moves out with you, Kristen.
WIIG: My favorite thing! Oh, that’s so good. What would be a role that you would really want to play? Whether it’s a movie or a TV show.
DOI: As you know, I really enjoyed playing the role of Yoyo, but if I would have to choose a different role it would definitely have to be a dramatic role.
WIIG: You want to do something dramatic. That’s exciting!
DOI: Or comedy. But I like to mix it up a little bit.
WIIG: That’s very smart. Are you watching any TV right now? What movies have you watched recently?
DOI: Yes, I like Keeping Up with the Kardashians or The Real Housewives.
WIIG: I knew we were similar.
DOI: For movies, I watched this movie called Hachi. It’s an American movie, but it’s based on a Japanese true story. There’s a lost dog on Tokyo’s busiest crosswalk. The story of the movie is about how the dog, Hachi, continues to wait for his owner to come back. The owner is played by Richard Gere and it’s a very emotional story. Back to your [previous] question, that’s the kind of role I would like to play. A very emotional kind of role. A very deep but sentimental kind of role. And also, a little bit of funny mixed in it.
WIIG: You could definitely do that. I feel like when you came in to play this role of Yoyo in our movie Barb and Star, you just brought so much more than we could ever imagine. You did play kind of a dual role, where you’re a villain, but you’re also really funny. I was wondering if you had a favorite scene that you shot in the movie, or any special memory from filming?
DOI: It would definitely be a scene that I watched when you were doing a long monologue. I watched you and you were very focused in the scene. I was watching in awe and I was just so amazed—you’re so focused. I think that you really guided me through filming. So thank you very much.
WIIG: You’re sweet. That’s very nice. Well, I definitely had fun dancing with you when we had those moments that we could dance together. A lot of people really love the clip they’re seeing of you riding the bike in the beginning.
DOI: When I practiced the bike scene, throwing newspapers and singing “Guilty,” I was actually practicing on a small bike because that was a bike that I bought when I was maybe six. So I was using a bike that was maybe half my size. I was worried it was going to break, but luckily it didn’t.
WIIG: Did you learn that song pretty quickly? I feel like you have a really good memory. You can memorize stuff really well.
DOI: Actually, my dad listens to that song in his car in Hawaii very often, so I sort of knew the song before. It’s such a great song. [Singing] “And we got nothing to be guilty of. Our love…”
WIIG: I’m sure Barbra Streisand will be very happy to hear that. You always came to set with such positive, open energy. I was just wondering, in your life, how do you keep such a positive attitude? Because you just seem like you’re such a happy person and it’s really infectious.
DOI: Because I love you, Kristen! My mom got sick [with a kidney stone] on set—do you remember that?
WIIG: Yes, I do.
DOI: And you were rubbing her back when she was in the trailer with pain. I know my mom and I really both appreciate your care for us. We appreciate that so much. When we started filming, you motivated me and encouraged me and lifted my spirits up. All those things gave me positive energy. From the start, I had positive energy because I was so excited. But after, seeing how far we came on our journey, it gave me more excitement and energy.
WIIG: Aww. Do you remember the first thing you shot? Was it dancing on the beach at night?
DOI: Yes! That was the first thing I shot.
WIIG: We really threw you in, didn’t we?
DOI: And then the first time I met you, it was in the hair and makeup room. I was like, “Oh my god, wait. Is that Kristen?” And my mom said, “That’s Kristen.” Then you hugged me and you had mosquito bites all over you. You were sandy and a little wet when I hugged you. I actually thought, “Oh, she smells like the ocean!”
WIIG: Because I probably was just in the ocean. [Laughs] Reyn, I want to talk about how nice you are. You’re so sweet. I want to let you know how much positivity and how infectious your happiness is, really. Everyone still talks about it. Maybe you were just born that way and you’re just a happy little angel.
DOI: I do have one question for you, Kristen. What was your first impression of me?
WIIG: Oh! That’s a good question. Well, I feel like I got to know you a little bit in your audition tape. We were instantly like, “Oh my gosh. This person is amazing.” And it wasn’t just the way you read your lines. It was also when you introduced yourself in the beginning of the video. When we met you, you filled us with joy and happiness and just reminded us to look at the bright side of things, because you always stepped on set wanting to be there. Also, you were very professional and funny. When I first met you, I thought, “Oh my gosh, I wish he was in everything.” Do you have any advice for any other actors, or aspiring actors?
DOI: I actually do. I have a little bit of advice for you and Annie [Mumolo]: for you to keep on being a duo because you are such a great duo. Maybe I can be the third person and maybe your duo can become a trio and we can go on different adventures together. So it can be the Reyn, Annie, and Kristen trio one day.
WIIG: I love this idea. We’re very grateful for you and that we all stayed friends.
DOI: I’m glad that I was able to be friends with you, Kristen.
Grooming: Kimberly Bragalone for Exclusive Artists using Dr. Jart+ and Kevin Murphy.
Styling: Meaghan O’Connor and Charlotte Harris.