The next interview coming out of our Royal Pains set visit is RESHMA SHETTY who plays Divya Katdare. So enjoy her interview.
Don’t forget that Royal Pains airs on Thursdays at 10pm on USA.
Can you tel us about your character?
Reshma Shetty: I play Divya Katdare. I am Hank’s physician assistant. Basically I’ve started—I’m a Hamptonite, so I’ve lived in the Hamptons, I go out there for most of my life. I have an idea for a business, and I hear about him. I hear his endeavors, his two saves, and I basically go to a motel room and I’m basically like, “Let’s go. I’m here. I have all the stuff. Let’s make this happen.” And I’m kind of the instigator of getting him going on it. And then basically we have wonderful adventures following.
Was your character always inclined towards the medical field?
Reshma Shetty: I think that she has a business degree. She’s an awfully smart, put-together lady, and I think that she saw an area, a niche that needed to be filled, so she basically said, “All right, you know what? I’ll get a two-years Master’s degree as a physician’s assistant because I can.” And I went and I did that, and then found him. She’s an over-achiever, and that’s hard to play sometimes, but she’s an over-achiever and she basically needed to find someone to help her, and Hank’s the one.
There’s a great moment in the pilot where she has a conversation on the phone with her parents. Can you kind of tell us what that story is with her parents?
Reshma Shetty: It was funny because they asked me to come up with something, and I’m Indian, obviously, but I don’t speak Hindi. And so I called my mom, and I was like, “Okay, Mom, they want me to come up with something. Can you tell me what the something is?” And in it, my parents don’t know what I do, so they’re telling me to come home. And I’m supposed to go to a polo match, and I’m just saying, “Look, you told me this 60 times. I heard you. I heard you. Bye.” And, you know, she doesn’t know what I’m doing, and it’s kind of her cover-up story that we’ll delve into later on.
So there’s no—we’re not supposed to know why she’s keeping this from her parents?
Reshma Shetty: Not yet.
Your character bio on the website actually says that her parents think that a woman of her socioeconomic status shouldn’t be working.
Reshma Shetty: Yeah, I think there’s a lot there. I think that there’s so many levels of what is appropriate for an Indian woman to do. What is appropriate for someone who’s wealthy who just needs to have a husband. Does she really need to work? I push throughout the whole thing. I’m the one who gets the clients. Well, Evan tries to get many clients as well, in his own little way. But she’s always trying to be busy. And I think the other lifestyle that lots of us have stories like that, that we have something else on the side, but this is what we really want. And she pushes for it, and she’s in a position that she can. But yet she can’t share it with her parents. I mean, my parents are amazing, but when I was like, “Well, I’m going to be an actress,” and they’re all doctors, that wasn’t the best and easiest thing to do, you know. So I’m sure that I probably went through a year period when I wasn’t telling them exactly what I was doing. But I think that’s going to evolve.
So do you get in on some of the medical action?
Reshma Shetty: Oh, gosh, yes. They found that I’m good at it. And I do a lot of stuff to show Hank that I know. And I think it’s funny because the first episode after they gave me all this medical stuff, I did it I think pretty well. And then so the next episode they came up and they were like, “Hey, can you say this?” And in the first script, there was only two lines, and the next script there was, like, six, and all these horrific words in them. And I was like, “Do you understand that I’m not a doctor?” But they’re like, “No, no, you can do it.” So yes, I do a lot of them. And it’s really fun. We get to work with Dr. Irv, and he shows us the procedures and stuff that—I went for undergrad for pre-med, and so I did go to cadavers and I did follow doctors and stuff, so I’d seen that stuff before. But I never really got to draw blood from a fake hand. That was kind of cool. That was my moment.
So you tricked your parents into thinking you were going to become a doctor. You were pre-med.
Reshma Shetty: I was totally set. Like, I really was set. Everybody in my family are doctors. There was not a woman doctor yet, and I had the grades and all that kind of stuff, but yeah, it’s very funny. Other stuff happened, and here we are. Here we are playing kind of a doctor.
Paul [Costanzo] was telling us that he thinks that Divya and Evan have great chemistry. They’re sort of fighting like dogs, but there are sparks. Do you see something developing with the character?
Reshma Shetty: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, it’s easy, he’s so funny and he’s very easy to improv off. Sometimes you’re kind of like, “Okay, can I say anything back? Because you’re still talking.” But I think I could hold my own a little bit with him. And we get along obviously as people, so it’s very easy to work with someone who you already feel that you have chemistry with. So that’s easy. The characters are very feisty together as you’ll see. She’s a straight talker. She’s the one, “Let’s get this done, A, B, C, D.” And he’s just like, “Well, I think that Z is cool, and T could be really cool here, too.” And I’m like, “No. Like, we just need to get this done.” But I think that plays off really well.
I loved in the pilot when she answered Hank’s phone.
Reshma Shetty: That’s her deal. She basically just takes over. And Hank is really cool with it at times. And Evan is I think he just wants to push her buttons, so he does, very well.
You live in New York. Do you have much experience in the Hamptons in your own personal life?
Reshma Shetty: I actually have never been out there. The first time I went out there was for the pilot. I’d always heard of the Hamptons. I only moved to New York about three years ago. And then I watched it on that show New York Housewives. And then you see all that stuff. And then when I went out there, I mean, some of the houses are so gorgeous. They’re gorgeous. I was like, “Give me the living room. I’ll live in the living room.” About the size of my apartment anyway. It was the first time I went out there, out there. And when we went out there for the pilot, it was at the very end of the season, so there was hardly anybody there. And this time, there’s starting to be more and more, I guess. It’s still kind of I think early in the season, but.
Can you talk about the auditioning process to get the part?
Reshma Shetty: Sure. Of course. It’s actually a funny story because being an Indian actress, lots of our roles are the same, a little bit. You’re either playing the nerd or you’re playing a doctor. And it’s starting to vary more, but you kind of get stuck a little bit in ruts. And so I was doing pilot auditions, and then I saw this, and I was kind of like, “Oh my god. It’s perfect. It’s perfect.” And I did the audition. Because we’re in New York and it was all L.A., we had to tape. And taping is always difficult. You know, you just want to reach out and be like, “I’m really funny, but I can’t tell you. I can’t show you.” So then I did the thing, and I didn’t hear for two weeks, I think it was. And every Indian actress knows every other Indian actress, so I’m getting on the Internet going “Who was it? Who was it?” And I see nothing. And then I get this random call, and it was like, “Jace is in town and he wants to meet you.” And I was like, “Meet me for–?” “To read, Resh. To read again.” And I was like, “Oh my god.” And so I went, and he was so awesome. He was so amazing, and he made it really fun. The first audition, I was scared to death, and the second audition I was like, “Okay, you know what? This was a really good time.” And then two days later they’re like, “Do you want to go to L.A.?” I was like, “Yes.” So then I went out there and in the process you meet two of the other people who are also up for it. And that was strange too, because you’re sitting outside, watching each person go in, kind of going, “Oh god, they really laughed at her. What if they don’t think I’m funny?” And then I kind of just went in there and just was like, “Okay.” You know, it’s an intimidating situation. So I remember the girl before me made them laugh through the door, and I walked in, and I was just like, “You know what?” I can’t believe I even did it, too. I was like, “You know, I heard you guys laughing at her, and I want you to know that I flew from New York City, and I really feel that you should laugh for me.” I said something, it was much funnier at the time. And they all laughed back. So I was like, “Okay. I’m okay. This could be okay.” And I did it, and then again I went home, and I remember I was sitting on the couch with my boyfriend, and I was like, “Honey, I didn’t do this and I didn’t do this part.” And he was like, “Okay, that’s fine. You know, I’m sure it’s fine.” “No, it’s not fine.” And I’m just like, whatever. And then two days later they gave me a call. Happy days. So that was that. Yeah, that was that process. It was great. I mean, it’s been great from the beginning. Everybody in the cast, the moment I met them on the pilot, it was one of those situations that I wanted to be around these people. And that’s always the key, I think, because if you have people who enjoy each other, then you’re going to enjoy the show because you’re going to see that. Andrew the writer was just a riot. He wanted us to talk about what we thought and stuff like that.
A funny story about my last name. The last name was different, and they couldn’t actually use it for whatever reasons. They’re like, “We need a last name that’s unusual but is Indian.” And I was like, “Well. Well.” And they gave all these weird names, and I was like, “I don’t want to be called Divya Shatama.” That would be difficult. And I’m like, “You know, my boyfriend’s name is Katdare.” It’s kind of a weird name. I’ve never actually heard that one before, and he happens to be Indian. First Indian man I’ve dated. Maybe the last. [laughs] But, no. No. But they’re like, “Okay. Well, let’s—all right. Well, how about this?” And then that was my name. So it was so awesome when he got to call his father, he was like, “Guess what, Dad? Her name’s Divya Katdare.” That was cool. That’s the story.
You don’t’ find it weird playing a character with your boyfriend’s last name?
Reshma Shetty: It isn’t, bizarrely. It’s actually not. And maybe it will start to be when everybody calls me Divya Katdare, and I’m like, “Cool.” But no. It’s an unusual name, and I think it’s Anglofied enough.
What’s it been like getting to work with Christine Ebersole?
Reshma Shetty: So I came in and I saw her picture up on the wall, and people obviously know her, but if you are in that field, you really know who she is. And I turned around and Jace was next to me, and I was like, “Jace, you know Christine Ebersole?” And I was like, “Wait a second,” and then I thought about it for a second, and I was like, “You mean I’m doing a scene with Christine Ebersole?” And I saw her in “Grey Gardens” when she was starting, she did the whole thing on Times Square. And if you’re in New York, you know everything that’s going on on Broadway, and that’s half of what you do. And then I met her. It was funny because she started talking to me like I’m a human being and she’s a human being, and for a second I was like, “Just play it cool.” Because I don’t get star struck. She’s such a fabulous actress and she’s achieved so much. And just to play opposite her and say, “I talked to her,” was just cool. And we got into this big discussion about men. It was fabulous. I was like, “Oh my god, you’re human.” But she is amazing. It was a honor to do a role with her.
Are we going to get to hear you sing?
Reshma Shetty: I don’t know. I don’t know. They haven’t really broached that one. I think Divya’s going to have some crazy night one of these nights, you know. They’re going to be like, “Divya, going and partying somewhere.” I’ve already broached them about that. I’m like, “She has a crazy side. I know. We’ve just got to find out.”
She’s so buttoned up in the pilots, is she loosening up at all?
Reshma Shetty: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, in the pilot I wore a white pantsuit the entire pilot. And it’s funny, I don’t think I ever take that jacket off, and I thought about that during the pilot, watching it, because I was like, “Why did you never take the jacket off, Resh?” But in this, it’s actually dependent on the weather because it was freezing. I wanted to take the suit jacket off, but I was just like, “Look, my toes are already frozen.” I’m wearing fabulous shoes, but they’re so terribly, terribly high that that in itself rigor mortis is already setting in because it’s going from the bottom of my toes upwards. You know when you get cold you just can’t get uncold? And that’s what happens, and then it’s still cold and it gets colder. I remember the first day of shooting, I had to walk across gravel in high heels with a skirt and a tank top. And I was like, “This is my first day?” And then have these fabulous UGH shoes for me that I will wear between. I always go to the cameraman, “Can you see my shoes? Because if you can’t, I’m not wearing them.” But it was freezing. So sometimes I will have a jacket on when and also it’s kind of inappropriate sometimes. Some of the medical procedures, you don’t really want to see someone who’s in a tank top sitting there. It just makes it more professional, I think.
She starts to loosen up, which you will see. I think she has a crazy side to her. I’m going to make sure she has a crazy side to her. But right now, she’s starting the business, so she kind of has to keep up kind of a persona a little bit.
How about the rapport between you and Evan and Hank?
Reshma Shetty: It’s actually funny because yesterday we had a scene, and it was one of those, us three walking down scenes. And Mark was like, “You know what would be really awesome? We should do this for publicity. We should have, you know that moment when three people are walking away from a plane and there’re clouds everywhere and it’s just like slow motion walking down. It would have been a perfect shot for that. We actually, all three of us, which was amazingly surprising to me and makes it so much easier, complement each other. Because he’s crazy. Evan’s insane. If you didn’t know who I was talking about. And Mark is just really funny but he’s very good at just keeping calm and straight down to earth. And I kind of am the dah-dah-dah, let’s get this together. And, “God, you’re so annoying,” and, “What do you need me to do?” And it just fits. It makes sense. Hank might actually even make sense, as cheesy as that sounds. We actually make sense. And that’s cool. It’s not work. Which is nice.
And how will interact with Jill?
Reshma Shetty: We’re starting. We actually haven’t really had anything, and this upcoming episode we have a really great two scenes that you pay attention. Because Jill and Hank is a very different relationship obviously and I see her. She pops up in something that I did, I think the last episode, and I’m not really introduced to her. It’s going to be good because I wanted to say that the two women characters in this show are really strong women. It’s not that we’re wusses. We both have careers. We’re both driven. We’re both ambitious. And we’re both down to earth. I think Divya can come across as she’s like this Hamptonesque girl, but hopefully in my presentation of her she’s fun, too. She’s someone that you want to know why she’s hiding things. You see that she cares about this business and that she cares about making it into something. With Jill as well. She cares about her hospital. She cares about having a relationship. And I don’t think you see that so much. You either see the bitch and then the diva or whatever. These girls I think are down to earth, and I think that’s how we are.
Can you talk about your character’s ambition. Aside from her parents, is she doing it because she wants to help people? Or is she doing it because it’s what she wants to do?
Reshma Shetty: I think that it’s a mix. I think that being someone who’s from that culture, you are born to achieve. You’re born to succeed. It’s something that you kind of have to do. But I think that she sees the niche, but she never stops Hank from helping other people. I think that she wants to help people, but she is a businesswoman and right now, she has a business, and she’s starting it, and it’s for herself a little bit because she’s got to achieve something for herself. Not for her parents, not because she’s Indian, not because she’s bright. Because she’s a woman and she’s strong, and she’s got this opportunity and she can make it happen.
With helping people, it’s a little tough because we’re in the Hamptons and it’s a concierge service for people who can pay. But as I said, she’s never going to stop him from helping someone else, and I’m sure down the road there’s going to be opportunities when a choice has to be made and I could never see her going, “You can’t go do this.” So yeah, I think that that’s something that has to be thought into and stuff.
You said one of the things that attracted you to the character initially when you read for it was that characters of Indian descent tend to fall into certain stereotypes, and that you liked the fact that she didn’t. Are you finding that to continue as you go on playing the character and as you’re growing?
Reshma Shetty: Absolutely. And, you know. With any ethnic role, it’s kind of different—everybody’s like, “Oh, she’s different,” you know. Because that’s the way it is, you know. If you go to Bollywood and you happen to be American, white, everybody is going to be like, “Okay, we’re going to put her in this role.” I mean, that’s what happens. We went through a period of time when if you were of Asian descent, you would play a terrorist or you would play the 7-Eleven guy or you would play that. And then really watch television now. You have Sendhil [Ramamurthy] who’s on Heroes. Then you have Parminder Nagra on ER, who’s smart and quirky and fun. And, you know, on The L Word, the lady who plays the Latino girl is Indian, too. And it’s starting that it doesn’t matter. It’s just that our culture’s part of who we are, so we can show people a little bit of that. But we’re also just us, and I think that’s the cool part.
Basically Divya is interesting because she is a really strong woman, and I do not necessarily have to be Indian to play her.
Who would be your dream guest star?
Reshma Shetty: Oh, gosh. Oh my lord. My dream guest star? I think Meryl Streep or Glenn Close would be pretty cool. Guy-wise, let’s think of someone terribly hot. I had the longest crush on Joseph Fiennes forever and ever and ever, and I think he’d be one who I think he’s a tremendous actor and he really believes in that, and he’s also hot. So that in itself I think is kind of a good mix. Him or Ralph Fiennes, you know. Like, them together. That would be awesome. I’m trying to think of my male crushes. You know who I think is really hot? Rodrigo Santoro. Did you guys see Love, Actually? I’ve never watched a movie twice in movie theaters just to watch a scene, and I watched it twice because of the scene when he’s in the underwear and he’s with Laura Linney, right? And he’s just staring at her, and I was just like, “It doesn’t matter. You’re so pretty.” [laughs]