The Mindy Project Interview: Mindy Kaling On Playing Dr. Mindy Lahiri

The Mindy Project

Mindy Kaling was happy to talk about her new show, The Mindy Project, and TV Equals was on hand to participate in the conference call that featured Kaling’s opinions on casting the show, playing Mindy Lahiri and her possible chance to work with Anne Hathaway.

Possible romance

During the last episode, Tommy Dewey and Kaling’s characters Josh and Mindy, had a bit of a romantic spark. Kaling said that Josh, who will show up in the next episode, will be in Mindy’s life for a while. “…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 said. “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.”

Avoiding clichés

Kaling said The Mindy Project will make sure to avoid a lot of comedy clichés.

“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,” she said. “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…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.”

Movie talk

Kaling talked about a movie that could possibly have Anne Hathaway as her co-star.

“I’ve been a fan of Anne Hathaway since as long as I can remember…[M]ore than any actress I can recall, she’s been in such different kinds of movies,” she said. “What I like about her is that this movie that I wrote, this part, which I had her in mind for a while, she’s not playing like a gorgeous heroine, like the character is kind of pretty unglamorous, a little dowdy, and a little down on herself and I just like that she’s into that…I like that she can play Catwoman, but is also willing to play this more like dreary part. I mean, it’s not North Country or anything, but like she’s not looking like a sexy leading lady in this movie.”

On playing Mindy Lahiri

Kaling was asked if it was a conscious decision to make Dr. Lahiri a bit obnoxious by having her go through so many different guys. Kaling said her character isn’t so much obnoxious as she is a way for the audience to live through her.

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,'” she said. “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.”

Kaling also added that a lot of the women characters she’s seen on television aren’t anything original. “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 [it]. [Mindy is] occasionally selfish, but every woman I know can be occasionally selfish, and [also] 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.”

The Mindy Project airs every Tuesday at 9:30/8:30c on FOX. The special Halloween episode airs October 30.