‘PEN15’ is the show everyone is talking about. The Hulu comedy takes us back to the year 2000 and makes us all relive our adolescence. HL spoke EXCLUSIVELY with star Taj Cross about the show!
PEN15 debuted Feb. 8 and became an instant sensation. The show is the ultimate throwback for those of us who were in middle school in the early 2000s. Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle star in this adult comedy and play versions of themselves as 13 year olds in 2000. Taj Cross stars alongside the dynamic duo and plays Sam. The character has a super cool origin story. “Sam is based off one of the other executive producers Sam Zvibleman. He is a little bit of a d**chebag, and he is a part of the dork posse with their whole friends group,” Taj told HollywoodLife. “He ends up making some questionable decisions near the end.”
For Taj, it wasn’t hard for him to connect to his PEN15 character. “I actually do relate a lot to my character. It was pretty easy to get into character because when I did I turned up my d**chiness and toned down my coolness a little bit.” He noted that he fell in love with the role instantly. He was all about the “raunchiness and the humor” of PEN15. “I can completely relate to it. It seemed like such a cool show and it turned out even better than I thought it would.”
Taj is just a teenager now, so he wasn’t even around in the year 2000. He admitted that middle school now is very different than it was back then. “In school now, being popular is when you’re weird and unique, and back then it was just about being cool and a little bit of a jerk,” Taj said. Yeah, we’ve all see those 2000s teenage comedies.
PEN15 is Taj’s breakthrough role. He told HollywoodLife that loves comedy, but the “main thing about me wanting to act is I just want the audience feel something whether its sadness or happiness. I just want to make them feel something.” He says his acting inspirations are Lucas Hedges and Timothée Chalamet. Taj has quite the career ahead of him, and we can’t wait to see what’s next for him. The show was created, written, and executive produced by Maya, Anna, and Sam. Debbie Liebling and Gabe Liedman serve as executive producers alongside Marc Provissiero and Brooke Pobjoy from Odenkirk Provissiero Entertainment, Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone of The Lonely Island and Becky Sloviter of Party Over Here. PEN15 is produced by AwesomenessTV.