He’s back and better than ever! Maxwell Acee Donovan is set to return as Wesley in season 2 of Disney Channel’s Gabby Duran and the Unsittables, and he’s chatting with J-14 exclusively about what fans can expect when the show premieres.
The 16-year-old actor not only teases that viewers will be watching a “bigger and better” second season, but even gets real about what it’s been like to balance his acting career while being a student all amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Maxwell also gives fans a real-life look into his studies at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) with an original skit, which he wrote, directed and starred in! Be sure to watch the video above and keep scrolling for our interview with the Disney Channel star.
J-14: What can fans expect from Wesley in Gabby Duran and the Unsittables season 2?
Maxwell: Wesley has come into his own! He gets to take on more babysitting responsibilities, as well as solidify friendships with those aliens he’s already met. At his core, I’ve always found that Wesley is endearing, earnest and a true believer, and I think that everyone’s going to like him even more in season 2.
J-14: How does Wesley differ from season 1 to season 2?
Maxwell: Wesley has grown a lot since he started the Mysteries of Havensburg Club, going so far as to become the Senior Executive Liaison to Intergalactic Affairs. He still suspects a conspiracy around every corner and is even a little justified sometimes, but he’s too busy with all the hijinx to focus on anything but aliens! He grows in his relationship with Gabby this season, too. They’re still every bit as close, but he’s become even more confident in both his abilities and himself, and isn’t afraid to stand up for what’s right.
J-14: What was it like returning to set after season 1’s success?
Maxwell: It was so exciting to fly up to Canada and get back to our sets — the Comms room and Luchachos were sites for sore eyes! It was nice to be reunited with my castmates, because we got even closer during the hiatus after season 1. It was also lovely to know season one was well received, so I came back with the confidence to make Wesley even bolder in his choices.
J-14: What’s one thing that surprised you about these upcoming episodes?
Maxwell: Every time we sat down for a table read, I was blown away by the scale of the events in our episodes! Without going into too much detail, I can tease that at one point, I have an entire upper body/facial prosthetic, and Wesley’s role as Senior Executive Liaison to Intergalactic Affairs becomes very real.
J-14: Can you tease your favorite scene from season 2?
Maxwell: I think the episodes may change numbers from when we shot them, but some of my favorites are from season 2, episode 11. [It’s] a classic Gabby and Wesley miscue! In episode 16, an extreme ruckus leaves Wesley in a very high stakes alien situation, which is awesome! And, of course, the finale is just fantastic.
J-14: Can you share any behind-the-scenes set secrets?
Maxwell: A lot of our sets are built within a sound stage but are a little different from classic sitcom sets. We shoot in a “single-cam” format, essentially meaning we shoot our project in a more cinematic style … we can shoot from anywhere in the room. Having these fake houses inside has led to some pretty funny moments, like when a broad daylight scene is suddenly cut short by a power outage or when I’m walking up the stairs of Gabby’s house and almost fall down the other side!
J-14: What’s your relationship with the cast when the cameras stop rolling?
Maxwell: I think because we are such a small cast shooting in another country far from home, we’ve created a pretty close-knit family. During COVID-19 it was nice to be on set with them, as we were all in a quarantine “bubble” and got to celebrate holidays with each other. The incredible Disney Channel Talent Relations team put together game nights, hangouts and other fun events over Zoom for the entire Disney Channel family to enjoy!
J-14: What was it like attending LACHSA while the film industry was on hold due to COVID-19?
Maxwell: Since LACHSA went online, I was able to stay there while filming and still got to receive the incredible arts instruction that makes it what it is. That being said, attending live Zoom classes while filming was a little tricky, and I would often log into History and English from the green room or makeup chair! I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’ve made such incredible friends and gained such a knowledge of the other side of the camera as I go for filmmaking.
J-14: How do you balance your career and going to school?
Maxwell: I don’t think I did it very well my first year. Sometimes I’d pull all-nighters to catch up! However, with season 2, our incredible producer Colleen Mitchell and both studio teachers worked incredibly hard to make the situation the best it could be. I had my own office-style classroom where I could take advantage of the hours allotted for us to do school on set, and my LACHSA arts teachers were very flexible with my work. It was still tricky, as the three hours given per day were often in 20-minute increments, but it’s all worth it to do the incredible things I’m lucky enough to be experiencing.
J-14: If you could work with any actor who would it be and why?
Maxwell: Ryan Reynolds, Chris Pratt, Daniel Kaluuya and about a billion others! Chris was a big inspiration in creating Wesley … Ryan is such an icon! Deadpool is probably my all-time favorite character, and I think his ability to be both behind and in front of the camera is super inspiring … I think Daniel is one of the most talented people working, and it would be super inspiring to work with him and experience his immense talent first-hand!
J-14: What’s next for you?
Maxwell: Ideally, what’s next is a [Quentin] Tarantino film, but as of right now, I’m back to auditioning. In all sincerity, I’ve had the opportunity to audition for some pretty incredible projects that I would love to be a part of. I’m working on two original short films to submit for the annual school film festival and some new content with my sister, Clare [Donovan]. I’m also helping my mom and sister launch their new production company, Bold Productions, created to bring women’s stories to the forefront.
Gabby Duran and the Unsittables season 2 premieres on Disney Channel on Friday, June 4, at 8:50 p.m. EST.
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