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'The Inbetweeners': Chatting with star Joey Pollari

From left: Joey Pollari, Bubba Lewis Zack Pearlman

From left: Joey Pollari, Bubba Lewis Zack Pearlman and Mark L. Young in "The Inbetweeners" Credit: handout

Much like Steve Carell in 2005, Joey Pollari has some big British shoes to fill.
In the U.S. adaptation of popular British series "The Office," Carell took on a role originated by Ricky Gervais.

In MTV's new adaptation of the hit BBC comedy "The Inbetweeners," Pollari takes over the role of Will McKenzie, the proper, briefcase-carrying teen transferring into public school, originated by Brit Simon Bird.

Not a jock and not a freak, Will falls in with the inbetweeners, the kids just struggling to get by. And, of course, he'll have some zany, kind of gross, adventures.
amNewYork spoke with Pollari, 18, about the show.

Had you seen the original?
I had not even heard about the original beforehand and I was like, "Wow, this is really great." So I decided to watch the original show - I blew through three seasons, just amazed.

Do you share a kinship with Will?
I think there's definitely this kinship, as you said. As much as Will is overeager and makes an a-- out of himself and is always maybe not the kindest person in the world, I had such a fun time playing him. He's such an interesting guy. He's so much different then I am. I'm not that pedantic. I'm not that much of a know it all. But he's so much fun to play and I really enjoy it.

How do you think your interpretation of Will compares to Simon Bird's?
My answer is that I've seen Simon Bird's brilliant work as Will McKenzie. I think it's irreplaceable and for that reason I really haven't tried to replace it. We took some hints from the original that we felt best translated and give a chance for new fans to see what the original one was made of. We've really moved on and created something new. I think they are different versions of the same guy.

Can you relate to these high school experiences?
Absolutely. As much as these situations might be a little more outlandish, they are absolutely real. These kids are, at heart, just trying so hard to be popular, to get girls, to be some sort of relevant. And they're failing it. And that was all I did in high school was fail in every attempt, and I think that's what makes it such a universal experience.

Have you met any of the original actors?
I have not. I've worked with Iain Morris, the original co-creator of "The Inbetweeners" - he directs our season finale. I haven't met [the actors] but we actually got a note from Simon Bird when Iain decided to direct and warned us - of course, very sarcastically - about working with Brits. It was absolutely hilarious.

Will the show continue to take inspiration from the original series?
We actually, throughout the season, get progressively less like the original. We have about six out of 12 concepts that are used from the British one. But given a chance for a second season, I'm pretty sure everyone's on board that we're not going to use any of the original's concepts ever again. We've used the six that we think will best translate. Of course, there are instantly recognizable pieces that you've seen - like the car door or the brief case. [But] it's just a different show, it really is. We've sort of taken what "The Office" did in terms of our adaptation.

"The Inbetweeners" premieres Monday night at 10:30 on MTV.

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