Never Have I Ever production secrets: 13 behind the scenes facts about the Netflix show
Ben and Devi weren’t even meant to be love interests?!
What were all of our lives before Devi Vishwakumar? She’s the character that made us all feel seen in a TV show, but in the best way possible. And there are a lot of production secrets behind bringing a show like Never Have I Ever together, which will probably make you fall in love with the series, and definitely the cast, even more.
From how the storylines were created and have been changed, to how our favourite characters were sculpted into what we see on Netflix – here are all the best production secrets and behind the scenes facts all about the making of our fav chaos show, Never Have I Ever.
Mindy Kaling wanted to avoid the cast being full of older actors playing teen roles
It’s a tale as old as time, Netflix casts much older actors to play teen roles. Sometimes there are actors playing teenagers who are younger than half their age. Mindy Kaling, the writer of Never Have I Ever, didn’t want the show to be like this. She put out the original casting call, asking for actors of real high school age. The eldest in the “teen” cast is Darren Barnet, who plays Paxton.
Paxton Hall-Yoshida was originally just Paxton Hall
The character we know and love as Paxton Hall-Yoshida could have been very different, as originally he was written into the script as Paxton Hall. However, when Darren Barnet who plays him, and is also American Japanese, was overheard by show writers speaking Japanese on set, they asked if he’d be comfortable to change his character to reflect his ethnicity.
Ben and Devi weren’t even meant to be love interests, the actors just had great chemistry on set
Basically the entire storyline of Never Have I Ever is the love triangle between Devi, Paxton and Ben. But, Ben and Devi weren’t even originally love interests!!! Show creator Lang Fisher has said this only came about when Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, who plays Devi, and Jaren Lewison, who plays Ben, had great chemistry on set.
She said: “When we saw them sparring with each other, and it was almost flirtatious, we were like, ‘OK, there are some sparks here even though they’re being incredibly mean to one another’.”
The scene where Paxton whips his shirt off had to be changed a bit… for health reasons
We all remember *that* scene where Paxton rips his shirt off. Originally, Darren Barnet was meant to rip it off from behind with one hand, but he kept choking. So, he pulled it off from the side instead. Fair enough.
Maitreyi Ramakrishnan only auditioned because she wanted to hang out with a friend who was auditioning too, and she nearly ghosted the producers
We now know Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as the queen of our hearts, Devi. But it was kind of on a whim that she even auditioned for the role. In an interview, she revealed she only responded to the casting call because it was a good excuse to hang out with a friend who wanted to audition. As part of the process, she had to Google what a “self-tape” was and then figure out how to work her mum’s camera. When the producers called to invite her to Los Angeles for a screen test, she didn’t even pick up, thinking it was spam. They emailed her to follow up, thank god.
But she ended up being chosen out of 15,000 people who wanted the role
In April 2019, Mindy Kaling put out a call for auditions and got more than 15,000 submissions to play Devi. She said it was a lot, but added: “There are obviously way more young Desi actors than there were ten to 15 years ago, but it’s a much harder search than if we were trying to find a white lead.”
Maitreyi told Variety: “It’s still so surreal to me. It’s crazy to think like so many people around the world wanted to be a part of this. And it’s a nice feeling to know that.”
Some of Devi’s cute and fun phrases weren’t in the script, and were just from Maitreyi chatting to other people on set
Maitreyi was at the centre of making Devi’s character come to life. Mindy Kaling has commented on how she added a “really informal and comfortable” energy to the role, and it’s also been revealed some of Devi’s fun quirks and phrases were actually added because of how Maitreyi is.
In one scene in the show, Devi says, “What’s poppin’?” to God – and this wasn’t originally written in the script. Maitreyi has said this came from the writers “constantly listening to me talk to my other cast members, and I always say, ‘What’s poppin’? That’s my good old Toronto slang with my friends.”
Maitreyi learned to play the harp just for the show
Yep, Maitreyi learned to play the harp just for the role. She has said that learning the harp was one of her favourite memories from filming the show, and told The Observer: “That was so cool, being able to get harp lessons and learn a brand new instrument. I just love learning. That was an amazing experience I got thankfully through the show.”
That scene with the coyote? It was real!
Never forget that scene in season one, where Devi found herself face to face with a coyote. Well, it was completely real! The dog was called Jill (cute) and Maitreyi said: “When Devi first sees the coyote in the tomato garden, that was both of us but it was from a distance. It wasn’t too close, we just make it look close.”
There have been a few famous narrators on the show
Never Have I Ever is famously narrated by tennis star, John McEnroe. As well as this, Benn Gross’ thoughts have being voiced by Andy Samberg (SNL, Lonely Island and Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and supermodel Gigi Hadid voiced an episode about Paxton in season two.
The episode Gigi narrated was originally meant to be narrated by Chrissy Teigen, but she was forced to back out of the show following accusations of her bullying online. It was only revealed Hadid had taken over from the role when the show was aired.
Maitreyi didn’t know who John McEnroe was when he was cast as the narrator
Maitreyi had no idea who John McEnroe was before the show, admitting she “definitely had to Google him” before the series.
And John McEnroe has never even watched the show
I don’t think John can be too offended that some cast members didn’t know who he was, considering he’s never even watched the show he narrates. “I never watch my matches or my commentary, or the movies or whatever I’ve been in. I can’t watch,” he said in an interview.
The title of the show has a deeper meaning
The title of the show is actually quite deeply linked to Devi, and everything her character represents. Never Have I Ever is meant to represent“a character whose ego is so caught up in the things she hasn’t done yet, hasn’t been exposed to yet,” said co-creator Mindy Kaling. “That felt really kind of natural to her personality. Maybe it’s a bad name. I have no idea, it probably sucks.”
Never Have I Ever season three is now available on Netflix. For all the latest Netflix news, drops, quizzes and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook.