The star of The Mindy Project tells us about stereotypes and being a smart girl in Hollywood.
Writer/actress Mindy Kaling, 33, was born Vera Chokalingam in Cambridge. Best known as Kelly Kapoor on The Office, she is the creator and star of the new Fox comedy series The Mindy Project, on which she plays an ob-gyn. In 2003, she portrayed Ben Affleck in a play she cowrote, Matt & Ben, which Time dubbed one of the “top 10 theatrical events of the year.” On the big screen, she has appeared in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Unaccompanied Minors, License to Wed and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Her book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and Other Concerns), was a New York Times bestseller. She lives in Los Angeles.
Jonathan Soroff: The Mindy Project— isn’t that a little narcissistic?
Mindy Kaling: Like, “Good for me! I got my own show!” I guess that means The Cosby Show or Everybody Loves Raymond were narcissistic, too. I think it just gives the audience an idea as to what to expect, namely me. In the show. A lot.
Ah, sure. I’m not sure I’ll respond, though. Not even my parents call me that. To me, it sounds like the name of an 80-year-old Russian woman. I don’t really identify with it.
I think you might be the only person who thinks that being a proctologist would be more fun than being an ob-gyn. [Laughs.] The real answer is that I get to hang out with women. I thought that would be fun.
I think so. There are lots of offices filled with earnest, nice people who are sort of clueless. Every time I talk to someone, they say they know someone just like Michael Scott.
That cast was so Massachusetts heavy, was it mandatory to be a Red Sox fan?
Yeah, it was pretty much a Red Sox Nation scenario.
Probably B.J. Novak from Newton. Amy Poehler’s pretty damn funny, too.
It has something to do with the weather. It’s so grim, it makes you look inward.
You can catch subtleties in a performance that you can’t with a multicam setup. When you do multicams and an audience, you have to be more presentational because you have a proscenium. It’s like a play. Not to get all technical and boring on you.
Fawlty Towers made me laugh the hardest.
I try not to go through life comparing myself to a hugely talented, famous dead person.
I’m not really playing myself, but there’s definitely some overlap. And I’ve never played something wildly different, like a sociopathic serial killer. You don’t see a lot of Indian women getting those roles, so perhaps there’s an untapped market there.
I’m not sure this counts, but people always ask me where I was born, which I find a little absurd.
I think Indian parents are psyched if their kids become doctors.
My parents put a bigger premium on being able to brag about me than they did on me being a doctor or scientist. As long as they can brag, they’re A-OK with my choices.
I like them the exact same amount, which is a lot.
It’s great because it allows me to write my own material and not just act, or go in for auditions and wait for other people to decide my fate.
He’s even dreamier because he went to Cambridge and was in the Footlights Club. He’s incredibly smart and funny, not a himbo at all. He’s also super tall so when you meet him you just go, “Oh my God.”
For a smooch scene? Probably Chris Evans. But an actual sex scene? I could live my entire life without having to do that.
I run the set like Saddam Hussein ran Iraq.
I don’t think that in Bollywood casting circles I’m considered very palatable.
I can do astonishingly little. I don’t even know, if someone was choking in front of me, whether I could do anything but panic. I’m not bad around blood, though. No issue there.
Luckily, I’m not really the kind of person people care about seeing in the tabloids. The one thing that makes me mad is that online I’m frequently described as being 5'2", and it annoys me that there’d be such a specific wrong answer about my height. I’m 5'4". Two inches is a lot, especially for a woman.
[Laughs.] Well, now we’ve set the record straight. I feel like we’ve really accomplished something here.