It's hard to think about Zoey 101 and not picture Stacey Dillsen (Abby Wilde) obsessing over cotton swabs and singing about sassafras tea. Pacific Coast Academy's most eccentric student was one of the more iconic characters on the show, and she's still very dear to our hearts.
MTV News spoke to Wilde on the phone last week to discuss all things Zoey 101, including fun facts about everyone's favorite (and only?) cotton swab enthusiast.
Stacey was just supposed to be a one-time gag.Nickelodoen
The sassafras tea fan only had three lines in her first episode, "Chase's Girlfriend," and that was all we were ever supposed to see of her on the show.
Wilde explained, "I did my episode, and I guess I did OK, because they told me they were bringing me back, and the next time I came in, I had a first name, and the next time I came in I had a first name and a last name. Then one day I came in and I had a bedroom. Then I did 31 episodes."
At first, her character was “Weird Girl."Nickelodeon
Wilde admitted her character's OG name was simply "Weird Girl," which makes a ton of sense, actually. In Stacey's first episode, she discussed spending her summer vacation making "a scale model of [her] dream house made only out of cotton swabs and white glue," which Chase Matthews (Sean Flynn) accidentally knocked into and destroyed.
And yes, she does have some of that ~iconic~ cotton swab art. "I have a few pieces of the cotton swab house that gets broken in my first episode, or one of the cotton swab houses. I think there were like three so we could do multiple takes, so I have pieces of one of them."
Remember when Stacey went on a date with Logan and it was mostly just her blabbing away? Yeah, that dialogue wasn't scripted.Nickelodeon
Wilde revealed, "[The script] just said, 'Stacey is talking a mile a minute.' So I improvised about five or six takes of what I was saying to Matthew [Underwood] and what ended up in the finished product were two different takes stitched together."
If you're wondering what dialogue ended up in the episode, it involved a fantasy sci-fi convention, Stacey stalking some poor dude she thought was an actual android, and a Marie Antoinette Halloween costume.
"And I think the character changed a bit after that," continued Wilde. "She got a little bit deeper and a little bit weirder and a little bit off-kilter. It was a lot of fun; it was a lot of fun to show everybody something I could do that I hadn’t had a chance to show them before."
PCA was actually filmed at two different locations over the show's run.
For Seasons 1 and 2, the series was filmed at Pepperdine University (where Lizzie McGuire star Clayton Snyder attended school), but that wasn't the case for Seasons 3 and 4. The show "was filmed in Santa Clarita, and they built a new set to make it look like it was still at Pepperdine, but in fact it was a completely different place."
Wilde once heard a rumor that Pepperdine still gets calls from kids wanting to attend PCA, which she "kinda [hopes is] true." Yeah, so do we.
And the roller coaster episode was filmed at Six Flags Magic Mountain.Nickelodeon
So keep that in mind next time you're there. Michael (Christopher Massey) rode the Spine Twister, which is actually the roller coaster Goliath.
The cast member Wilde sees the most is Erin Sanders, aka Quinn Pensky.
"She and her mom have been so sweet and kind to me, and when I was doing plays in LA, they would always come and see them." Aww, Quinn always was a super loyal friend at PCA!
Despite sassafras tea being Stacey's favorite thing ever (besides cotton swabs, that is) Wilde has never tried it.Nickelodeon
She's a big "tea fiend," but hasn't had a chance to taste test her character's beloved drink -- yet. "You know, I read somewhere -- and this might not be true -- I think I read somewhere that sassafras tea is poisonous in high doses, and if that is true, I think that makes Stacey kind of a badass, so I’m very proud." Honestly, same.
The sassafras tea song was originally featured in a different episode.Nickelodeon
"There was an episode where there was a talent show, I think it was Lisa Tucker’s [aka Lisa Perkins] first episode on the show. And my talent was singing the sassafras tea song and it didn’t make it into the episode ... But we filmed it, I think like five or six times in different episodes until it finally stuck in ["Logan Gets Cut Off"] and in ["Goodbye Zoey?"]."
And now it has its own Zoey 101 Wiki page, because it's definitely a one-hit wonder.
Wilde has some pretty dope ideas about what Stacey might be doing with her life now, including operating an Etsy store...Courtesy of Abby Wilde
"I think she opened an Etsy store and some style-making celebrity happened to buy a pair of her cotton swab earrings and now Stacey is hitting up the center of a vast fashion empire, based on swab fashion."
...And another one involving her in jail after falling in with the wrong crowd.Nickelodeon
"I think ... Stacey has taken a day job to support her art at a drugstore for the cotton swab discount, and she gets inadvertently drawn into some sort of Breaking Bad drug conspiracy and is now serving a prison sentence where she can build her cotton swab art on the inside."
Wow, that escalated quickly. And yes, Stacey still has her lisp. "I don’t think it’s going anywhere. I can’t really imagine Stacey without the lisp," Wilde shared. We can't either, TBH.
Be sure to catch her as Viola in the Instant Shakespeare Company's upcoming reading of Twelfth Night on March 5th at 1pm at the Columbus Branch of the New York Public Library.