October 30th, 2012 by thetvchick
The Mindy Project is one of my favorite new comedies and it has remained consistently hilarious since the pilot. What I love most about the show is the voice. It is truly unique and real, which is not commonplace on comedies these days. Tonight’s episode (which was supposed to air last week but got preempted) is the Halloween episode, and Mindy is going on a Halloween date. I recently had the chance to talk to Mindy Kaling (who plays the protagonist Mindy Lahiri) on a media call, and she talked about the voice of the character, avoiding stereotypes and possibly bringing some of her former Office cast-mates onto the show.
There is such great chemistry between all the cast on the show. Was it instant, or did it take a little bit of time for everyone to gel since you’re also their boss?
I think it is a little easier for me now because I created the show I’m not shy around strangers because I in general either auditioned them or approached them for part so now I’ve been thinking a lot them before they started working with me, so for whatever reason that made me less shy. … is still a little intimidating to me though, because he seems to me like the 70s era, like serious drama actor, like actually he stepped out of the French connection. That vibe and my vibe is very different so he’s still a little intimidating to me although I love him very dearly.
In the last episode we saw, you kind of had a nice little spark with Tommy Dewey who was playing Josh, I know he is back in the next episode. Is this going to be a little romance we’re going to see play out for a little bit?
It is. He was actually—I just shot with him last night and I’m shooting with him again today. It’s been really fun shooting with Tommy because on his surface he just looks like this handsome 90210 kind of character, but we’re playing him as a little bit of a weirdo. He is a weirdo, he comes out a little strong, he’s a little off-putting, and to me seeing people like that redeem themselves is much more appealing than kind of just—a lot of romantic comedies use this kind of generic, boring kind of pretty good looking love interest and he is certainly the anti that.
Are you aware of taking a risk by having her being obnoxious, but perhaps you don’t feel that your character is obnoxious.
Curb Your Enthusiasm, which is one of my favorite shows, Larry David often acts in a very, what some people might characterize as obnoxious ways, but he’s also doing what I think is something that most people who like the show are like, “Oh I wish I could do and but I never can.” Larry is doing what we wish we could do, so because you’re Salma Hayek you don’t think it’s obnoxious? My goal with the character is that she is doing stuff that we all—you know, women watching and guys watching it, they wish they could do that but they just can’t. When a man does it I don’t know if you call it obnoxious, when a woman does it maybe it’s rarer, so that’s what it seems like. I just wanted her to be really realistic and authentic. So many of the female characters I see on TV are there just kind of put upon and kind of boring and they’re so worried about viewers not being able to handle than … and occasionally selfish, but every woman I know can be occasionally selfish, and although can be heroic and funny. I’m just trying to make her interesting and nuanced, and if some people think she’s obnoxious sometimes then yes, people are obnoxious sometimes, I think, and they can still be like heroes, I guess.
Was there one particular stereotype that you want to avoid when you were writing the show in terms of sitcoms that you’ve seen before? Mostly in the context of just a comedy series…
Oh. I think almost every comedy writer, at least on my staff, we have lists of things that we try not to do. From someone who loves singing and dancing a lot, as evidenced on The Office, I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of singing and dancing on the show. I also think that there’s a trap that comedy writers can fall into which is like making things too meta. I really want this show to appeal to a really wide audience, so I didn’t want it to be too specific or niche to just a really small group of hipsters in L.A and N.Y. would kind of understand or like. I’m trying to think of other clichés. In general, I just didn’t want the characters to be stock, you know, I don’t want a character to a bimbo or the sassy black woman. Those are things you see sometimes and I think they’re not very fresh. I just try not to do stock characters.
You had Ed Helms on the pilot episode, do you have any plans to bring Rainn or B.J. onto the show?
Well, I love those guys and if our show were to be lucky enough to continue on for many years I can’t imagine a world where I didn’t ask both of them to be on the show. With B.J., I see him a lot because he’s one of my closest friends, so with him it’s like when I’m with Ed I don’t necessarily see him as much, but I miss him a lot. So a good way to get to see him is putting him in the show and he’s actually coming back in an episode that airs in a couple of weeks. With B.J. it’s hard because with Ryan and Kelly I didn’t have that much screen time with Ed Helms on The Office. I probably had four scenes all told in the six years we worked on The Office together. But with B.J. all of our scenes are together in The Office, so since the show is still new I wanted them to see my character as my character rather than “Oh it’s Kelly and Ryan again.” I think it will be a little bit longer. I love him and I love working with him, so I’d like to see that in the future.
Can you talk about Tuesday’s episode, Halloween, and can you give any secrets away on what you’re going to be on Halloween?
Yes. I can talk a little bit about it. I can tell you that I wear a series of costumes. I did about five or six costume changes and I can tell you a little bit about the premise. The premise is that I’m going on a Halloween date with the character Josh who we met in the last episode. The Halloween costume is stressing my character out a lot, which that is very true of me, myself. I don’t have a Halloween costume and it’s already starting to make me panic a little bit. But there is some pretty awful and some pretty, I think, hilarious costumes that you get to see during the show. I look crazy in a lot of them too; by the way, they’re not sexy hot girl costumes. They’re pretty funny, I think.
I wanted to know how similar is the voice of Mindy the character to your own voice, and how were we going to see it develop in the rest of the season?
I think the character is pretty different than me, Mindy Kaling. I have the lifestyle of a nerdy, boring writer; that’s my lifestyle. The character has a kind of a great glamorous job, and an exciting job, and a kind of even noble job … and loves to party and to go out. I think that the character wishes she could do that, and … isn’t able to. We both had arrested development, I think that’s where we’re very similar, like both were nerds. Elementary school, high school, college; that’s where me and my character really differ, when she finished medical school she really likes to party, she likes to drink ,she is definitely more boy crazy than me. Whereas I just don’t have that in me, but I like writing that character; I think that’s really fun. If I wrote characters that was actually me and my life no one would watch it. She puts herself out there, that’s why I was like she’s very confident and puts herself out there despite her flaws. I’m not nearly so confident, which is why my character is so fun to play.
I’m really enjoying it so far. I can’t wait to see more.
Oh good. This next episode coming up, the Halloween episode, it’s so funny. I’m really, really psyched about it. Bill Hader comes back and there’s just a lot of really funny fun stuff. I love the holiday episodes, so we really made it special, I think you guys are going to like it.
Be sure to tune in tonight at 9:30 PM for an all new episode of The Mindy Project.Tweet