Original Link: http://www.accidentalsexiness.com/2010/08/10/sendhil-ramamurthy-talks-covert-affairs/
Author: Rosy

As a longtime Heroes fan, I was elated at the prospect of meeting original cast member Sendhill Ramamurthy who played geneticist Mohinder Suresh during all four seasons.

We were ecstatic to hear the announcement when he landed the gig with USA in the role of CIA operative Jai Wilcox, whose family has a long history with the CIA.

I had the opportunity to participate in a special media call with Sendhil on Friday and I’d love to share his words with you. Quickly though, I will preface this article by letting you all know the details I know you are dying to hear!! He IS every bit as charming as you would imagine, his voice is even dreamier than you could hope, and he is just so darn funny, you don’t ever want to hang up!

Now without further ado, our chat with Sendhil:

Question: What exactly made you want to be a part of this show?

S. Ramamurthy: It was kind of a roundabout thing, actually. While I was still shooting here, they were shooting this pilot and I put a friend of mine on tape for the role of Auggie, for Chris Gorham’s part. While I was doing that, I ended up reading the script and I really liked it, but I was already on a show and that was that. I kind of read it and filed it away.

Then, I guess when the show’s creators and USA decided to make a little change from the pilot and bring in the Jai Wilcox character they kind of approached me about it and I went in and I talked to the creators and I did a chemistry read with Piper Perabo and I got the job the next day. It was a script that I really liked. It was a very different character for me to play from what I had been doing before.

It was also one of those things where I was under contract to NBC and it was a way to do more work without having to try and get out of a contract and all of that and all the legalities involved with that and it was a chance to work with Doug Liman, so it was all kind of win-win.

Question: Will your character get to get out in the field at all?

S. Ramamurthy: My character does go out into the field, starting in Tuesday’s episode actually. I think originally as conceived the character wasn’t going to be going out into the field and once they cast me they saw some merit, some advantage to bringing me into the field. And it’s been a lot of fun.

Most of the stuff I do has been with Piper and a little bit of stuff with Chris. It’s a lot of fun and it’s also a great way to see Toronto because we shoot everywhere around Toronto, so I’ve gotten to kind to see Toronto just by virtue of shooting all around the place.

Question: How would you describe your character and, most specifically, his relationship with Arthur because there’s some kind of hidden motive going on there? At least there appears to be so.

S. Ramamurthy: Well, my character, Jai Wilcox is a second generation CIA man. His father, Henry Wilcox, was the Head of Clandestine Services, so he’s CIA royalty, basically. And, as we’ll find out in Tuesday’s episode, I don’t want to give too much away, there’s some baggage that comes with being Henry Wilcox—my character’s father’s name is Henry Wilcox—there’s some baggage that comes with being his son and it kind of permeates through the CIA.

So, you see how Jai kind of has to deal with that.

He kind of has two father figures in his life. He’s got his real father, Henry Wilcox, and then he’s got Arthur Campbell, played by Peter Gallagher, who is somebody who, obviously, he looks up to and respects and he wants to impress the both of them and impress everybody else in his own right. I think it’s very important for Jai to feel that he is there at the CIA doing a good job on his own merit, not just because he’s Henry Wilcox’s son or because Arthur Campbell trusts him with specific clandestine operations that not a lot of people know about.

So, the relationship with Arthur is definitely, you know, he’s my boss and I look to impress him at every turn that I can.

Question: You’ve been doing a lot of research about the CIA and about some if the inner workings for the show. Was there anything that you found out that kind of surprised you?

S. Ramamurthy: There was a lot that we found out through doing all the research, from the fact that the CIA encourages dating within the agency, which I thought would not be the case to kind of the way that things operate there.

I didn’t know even the basic things, like you can’t have your cell phone with you inside the CIA. I didn’t know that the CIA didn’t carry weapons on U.S. soil. So it’s interesting, we actually just shot a scene where I’m chasing somebody and they’re shooting at me and I have no gun, but I keep chasing them, like I keep going after them, even though I have no weapon.

So, for me, I found it really kind of courageous and heroic that these CIA operatives are going about doing their thing without a weapon. It could also be looked at as, God, how dumb. But I think it’s pretty heroic. It’s kind of like, well, I guess it’s like with anything like this, like firefighters if you want to look at it like that. While everybody is running out of the fire, they’re the ones running towards it and I think it kind of speaks volumes for the CIA and the people kind of protecting our country.

Question: The interesting part about your character is that you are the assistant to the director and you have access to him that other people don’t, and how does that work in terms when dealing with Kari Matchett’s character as, you know, she’s his wife, but she’s also got a job on the team, but she can’t always get to him the way you can.

S. Ramamurthy: Yeah, and that makes for a pretty interesting dynamic between Jai and Joan, Kari’s character, Joan. It’s pretty antagonistic. She’s not very fond of Jay and their interaction kind of shows that. But what I love that the writers have done with the character is they put in moments where Jai, he does his job well.

Jai is really good at what he does. That’s not to say that he makes mistakes. Everybody will make mistakes throughout any kind of mission, but he’s so good at his job that Joan at certain points in certain episodes can’t help but say, “All right, well done. You did it right.”

Actually, one of the instances happens in Tuesday night’s episode, which I wasn’t expecting because you kind of think in TV they’ll set up this one dynamic and just kind of go in that direction full tilt and that will be that. But it’s really nuanced, all the relationships between the characters are really nuanced and I’ve been really impressed with how they balance everything, from my relationship with Joan to Jai’s relationship with Annie to Auggie’s relationship with Annie; it’s a delicate balance and I think the writers are really doing it well.

Question: I agree, because the relationships seem real and it’s interesting because I would think that your character and Auggie’s character might be—and it seems to be that there’s a little bit, I don’t want to say friction, but the dynamics.

S. Ramamurthy: Oh, there’s friction. We’re having a lot of fun with that actually.

Question: Well, it’s interesting because he has a fondness for Annie, but he can’t go out in the field like you can.

S. Ramamurthy: No, no he can’t and that’s probably part of the friction. And then I think, well, without want to give too much away I think that Jai, as the season goes on, kind of becomes a little bit jealous of the friendship between Auggie and Annie. They are best friends. They really are. There’s a trust between them that Annie’s character doesn’t have with any other character.

She can be completely who she is with Auggie. She can’t do that with Danielle, her sister; she can’t do it with me because, well, there are various reasons that will come out, but it’s a relationship not entirely based on truth and so that kind of makes that impossible. Having said that, I think there’s an attraction. There’s definitely an attraction between Jai and Annie and Annie and Jai and I’m having fun seeing how it’s all playing out.

Question: Gregory Itzin plays your father, how do you like working with him?

S. Ramamurthy: He’s kind of just amazing. I knew him from 24, obviously I’d seen is work on 24 and thought he was just amazing in it and when I heard that they were bringing him on to play my father I thought, okay, interesting choice. I didn’t see that coming at all.

But I was into it, I was really kind of impressed with it, that the writer’s and USA and the studio, everybody, kind of really got behind it. And the scenes that we did, especially in Tuesday night’s episode, which is Greg’s first episode with us, there’s kind of one of my favorites scenes that I’ve done all season, is a scene where he kind of drives it where it’s Jai, and Annie and him, just sitting at a table, having a drink and talking.

And it was an amazing experience to kind of just watch Greg work, because he’s so good and he’s so specific. I’ve really enjoyed all my scenes with him. Again, it’s a very complicated relationship, the relationship that Jai has with Henry, with his father. And we’re kind of getting more into it actually right now.

There’s a great scene in the finale, which we just got, which I’m really looking forward to doing. I think we’re going to shoot it next week. Greg will be back up with us, so, yeah, it’s been a real treat working with him.

Question: So, is this sort of the start of us seeing a lot more of you and Jai?

S. Ramamurthy: Yes, like I said, I kind of came to the party later. I was cast after they had shot the pilot and the show had been picked up for 13 episodes and I was cast after they had kind of broken the first four stories. They had already written the first four episodes or done very specific broad strokes of the first four episodes. So when I met with them they said, listen, we’re going to slot you in where we can in the first four episodes because we’ve put out the structure already, we already know what we’re going to do in those episodes.

For instance, in last week’s episode I wasn’t even in it because that was actually the first episode that we shot after the pilot, even though it aired fourth we shot it first, so there was just no way for me to be in it. And so, I kind of like am peppered through the first four episodes and then on Tuesday’s episode it’s kind of like the real introduction to my character where you find out what Jai is all about, where he comes from, what makes him tick and, more importantly, what he’s doing there and what his kind of general arc and mission will be throughout the season.

Question: Is Jai’s relationship with Annie is going to be strictly professional or does he have an interest aside from what we’ve been shown so far?

S. Ramamurthy: Again, it’s very complicated. I think one of the best things about this show is that all the relationships are really complicated. It’s kind of the best thing that was written in the pilot is the note that the Ben Mercer character leaves for Annie’s character. It says, “The truth is complicated.” And that doesn’t just apply to Annie and Ben. That certainly applies to Annie and Jai as well.

Like I said, everything is not what it seems when you meet Jai and Annie and the audience knows that Arthur has told him to get close to Annie in any way possible. And you kind of see a few different tacks that Jai takes to kind of accomplish his mission and then he can try and go the romantic way, he can try and go the professional way; there are a few different avenues and Jai is pretty crafty and he kind of tries whatever works in certain situations.

And I think that’s all well and good, but in the end Jai and Annie, they’re not robots. There are emotions, there are feelings and when you get close to somebody it can complicate something that you want to just be a mission. So, we’ll see. I have to be honest, I’m curious to see where it goes because I don’t know yet.

Question: You were talking a little bit about Jai’s being a second generation CIA agent. Are we going to see kind of a back story for him?

S. Ramamurthy: Yes, you do. You get a little bit actually in Tuesday night’s episode; you just kind of hear what he’s about, what he’s been up to, actually, just prior to coming to the CIA. You get a little hint as to where he was and what it was that he was doing and a cool scene that we shot, it was me and Piper and Eriq La Salle, actually, which was a lot of fun. He guest stars in Tuesday’s episode and he’s terrific in it. And he’s such a nice guy.

I mean, I was a little in awe. I was acting with Dr. Benton, like what do you do? But he was really great. And you do, you do find out kind of where he’s from and as the season goes on you actually find out a little bit more about where he was and what it was that he was doing where he was, which is kind of important to the overall end game of the season.

Question: What do you find to be the biggest challenge in playing this particular character?

S. Ramamurthy: For me, it’s been a huge challenge just because it’s a very different character than what I’ve been playing on TV before, which I’m excited about. But it’s an incredibly layered character and you’re always kind of second guessing because you don’t want to give too much away in each scene and so that’s something that I’ve really worked hard at and you don’t want to tip your hand too quickly.

Jai is a charmer, or he thinks he’s a charmer anyway, and everybody around him reacts that way so I guess he is and you don’t what that to just be it, so there has to be something bubbling underneath it and the challenge was to not let kind of the end game, which, obviously, I know where it is, but you don’t want the audience to know if the fifth episode of the series what’s going to happen, so it was a really tricky balance for me and, again, I hope I got it because we haven’t seen a lot of it, we haven’t seen a lot of the episodes, so it’s going to be interesting. So, for me, that’s been the most challenging thing.

The other challenging thing has been it’s a very physical role for me. In Tuesday’s episode I was doing parkour. Who gets to do parkour on TV? They brought in a guy from Cirque du Soleil to work with me to kind of work the moves out and stuff. And I saw the chase scene actually that’s going to air on Tuesday and it’s really cool. I was really excited when I saw it. It’s a very fun thing and it’s what you would expect from Doug Liman, from a show executive produced by Doug Liman. It’s certainly worthy of kind of his previous spy stuff.

Question: What are your thoughts on the tension that Jai has added to the show, especially between Arthur and Joan?

S. Ramamurthy: I think it’s kind of interesting because he’s become an unknowing pawn in the marital strife between Arthur and Joan and I don’t think it’s something that he particularly wants to be involved in. But I also don’t think, because these guys are CIA operatives as well, Joan and Arthur—this is what they do, too. They don’t really tip their hand too much, certainly to Jai and not to the rest of the people either as to what’s going on between them.

Yeah, obviously, everybody knows they’re married and there can be a little bit of frostiness between the two of them, but when they interact in front of the rest of us, in front of Annie, in front of Jai, in front of Auggie, we can’t see that. And that’s another instance where these guys, they’re able to compartmentalize in a way the me, personally, Sendhil, I’m incapable of doing that.

I can’t kind of like say, okay, well, I’m doing this, but I’m going to shut this out. I’m not very good at that, but all of these guys are very good at that because it’s their job. They wouldn’t be doing what they were doing if they were bad at it. So, as far as the tension, yeah, he’s there and Arthur has put him into the DPD, a place where he’s never been and didn’t even clear it. I mean, Jai, as we saw in the first episode I appeared in, Jai is the one who informs Joan that Arthur put him in.

And we actually did a different take of it where I was actually kind of ribbing her a little bit about it, but looking back on it, I’m glad that they didn’t use that take because I don’t think it was right at that time. That’s another thing, they were developing the character kind of after they cast me, so the first few episodes I was kind of like, okay, which direction am I going here? I don’t want to make him too arch.

And they were very helpful, Matt and Chris the creators of our show, were very helpful in holding my hand and kind of guiding me in the right directly while they figured it all out and they have, luckily.

Question: How do you feel Jai will develop as the series continues?

S. Ramamurthy: I think for the first time Jai starts to have second thoughts; not second thoughts, but he starts to realize that okay, maybe this deception thing is a lot more tricky and a lot more difficult and affects people in a different, sometimes adverse way than he thought and I don’t think he actually really thought about it that much and there are certain things, the relationship with Annie; there is one thing, in particular, that happens in I think it’s the eighth or the ninth episode where I kind of made a choice.

There’s a conversation between Jai and Annie where they kind of mention past relationships and I think that there’s a past relationship in Jai’s life that deeply affected him and I don’t think it ended up the way that he wanted it to end up and I think that I’d like to see that explored a little bit more as to why he’s able to connect with Annie in the way that he does. I don’t know if that will be this season or not. I don’t know if there will be the time to do that, but I hope in subsequent seasons, should we be lucky to get one, or two or three or four or five, I hope that’s something that we can look into.

Question: We’ve already seen Piper with a lot of accent and language work. Are you looking for that with Covert Affairs? Have you actually already done some languages and some accents that we get to hear?

S. Ramamurthy: Boy, that’s a tough one to answer. There might be some accent stuff coming up. I’m not sure, to be honest, because there are some rewrites going on right now, but it’s a possibility.

As far as languages go, I haven’t had to explore my unfortunately incredibly limited language skills. Piper has a really great facility for languages. She’s great with it. But me, I’m not so great with it, so if they happen to be reading this, the writers, and read this, they should feel free not to give me any language stuff. Accents I’m good with; languages not so much.

Question: I’m wondering why Arthur chose you to get close to Annie. Does Jai have some sort of history with the mysterious Ben Mercer that makes him a good choice? Or is it just that he is so good at getting under other people’s skin and is such a good operative in his own right?

S. Ramamurthy: Aren’t you a clever girl! I’m not going to answer that question in any way that you’re going to find satisfying. I’m going to just say that upfront right now, but yes. That’s my answer. There’s a lot, like I said, there’s a lot there, which is why I’m so excited to play the character. My parents, actually, were talking to me the other day and they were like, “What the hell is your guy doing? I don’t understand. What’s happening? He’s like kind of there, but not there?”

And I was just like, “Just relax. It’ll come out.” And, again, that’s probably one of the frustrating things for viewers of series television is you want all the answers right away, but then you don’t. You want something more and from a writer’s point of view, they don’t want to burn through too much story. They’ve got to crank out 13 episodes.

So, the one thing I would say is it’s a very slow burn for the Jai Wilcox character and as far as, you can probably tell how much I’m trying not to answer your question, there are definitely things in Jai’s background and what he was doing prior to arriving at Langley that make him a really, well, the only choice to be dealing with Annie and the Ben Mercer situation.

Question: Is the spying leak story line going to be wrapped up soon, or is that going throughout the entire season?

S. Ramamurthy: That is something that I think definitely kind of goes through and it grows in importance throughout the entire season. And I don’t even know whether it will be resolved or not resolved by the end of the season. Again, should we be lucky enough to go more seasons, it could be something that is further explored.

If you could read the 12th episode, which is sitting on my kitchen table right here and I’m looking at it, you would know that there’s an opening there for it to continue should the writers decide to go in that direction.

Question: What other upcoming projects do you have, besides more Covert Affairs?

S. Ramamurthy: I did a movie called It’s a Wonderful Afterlife. It was written and directed by Gurinder Chadha, who did Bend It Like Beckham. And it’s released in the U.K. already and I believe a U.S. release is happening towards the end of this year.

And then I did another film called Shor, which I actually shot in Mumbai in January and February. It’s like a really gritty crime drama. It kind of follows my character’s descent into a kind of hell, if you like. And that was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, just shooting, the physical toll of it was enormous.

The heat, I was shooting in the largest slum in Mumbai for a lot of it and it was, again, just a very different experience for me and working with a whole different crew and a whole different culture of filmmaking and I’m really excited for that. I think that’s going to be released in October.

Question: If you were to put your iPod on shuffle right now and press play, what’s the most embarrassing song that would come up?

S. Ramamurthy: Wow, that’s a great question because I have a shared iPod with my wife. I actually had it on shuffle just now in the gym and I’m trying to think what came on. Oh, what’s that guy, it was an Enrique Iglesias song, which I would usually probably never listen to, but it popped on. And I am not ashamed to admit that I listened to it all the way through. I did not fast forward it.

Question: We’re really enjoying seeing Chris and your co-star Ann Dudek and Peter Gallagher on Twitter. We only hear about you through Wendi Lynn. So, when are you going to make the move to Twitter? We want to hear from you.

S. Ramamurthy: You can hear from me by talking to me right now. The Internet scares me. I’m not very Internet savvy, to be honest. I’m not very computer savvy. I’m not a big Web surfer. It’s just not something I do. I can’t see why anybody would be interested in what I’m doing during my day. Like I’m having a coffee at the coffee shop; like, who cares?

Question: Well, we care, like when you’re listening to Enrique Iglesias at the gym.

S. Ramamurthy: After I said that, I just realized what a giant mistake that was because I shall never hear the end of that.

Question: And I sent it out to Twitterverse, so I’m sorry.

S. Ramamurthy: Of course you would. I would be disappointed if you didn’t, quite frankly. Because that’s a nice embarrassing bit of detail. But no, I wouldn’t count on seeing me on Twitter any time soon. But what I do do, if I have something that I, on the rare occasions when I do have something that I want tweetered, how do you say it?

Question: Tweeted.

S. Ramamurthy: Tweeted. On the rare occasion when I want something tweeted out I pop Wendi a text and she tweets it out for me.

Question: Okay, well, maybe you’ll change your mind in the future, but we’re loving you on the show.

S. Ramamurthy: Well, thank you very much and maybe I will change my mind. You never know; you can sometimes teach an old dog new tricks.

Question: Yes, I’m going to have a chat with Chris. (Gorham) I’m sure he can get you going.

S. Ramamurthy: Oh, he’s been working on me and Piper already, don’t you worry about that.

Make sure you tune in to see Sendhil and his fabulous cast mates on Covert Affairs, which airs on Tuesdays at 10/9 Central on USA Network.

2011 Interview – Assignment X

October 28th, 2011 | Posted by Jenn in Interviews | Press - (0 Comments)


Author: Abbie Bernstein

On USA’s COVERT AFFAIRS, now in its second season Tuesdays at 10 PM, Piper Perabo stars as Annie Walker, a relatively new CIA operative. One of her coworkers is more experienced espionage worker Jai Wilcox, played by Sendhil Ramamuthy.

The Chicago native was already part of the NBC/Universal family due to his four years as Dr. Mohinder Suresh on HEROES, where his character was dealing with a lot of daddy issues even before he started to get scaly and super-strong. COVERT AFFAIRS allows Ramamurthy to do a number of things that HEROES did not – for starters, he gets to speak with his normal American accent this time around.

ASSIGNMENT X: As HEROES was wrapping up, did NBC ever say to you in the process, “We want to keep you in the family”?

SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Yeah. That’s how this came about. Even though I was still under contract, I was allowed to come and do [COVERT AFFAIRS] , and that was all because of NBC. They were really, really supportive – [USA president] Bonnie Hammer, Jeff Wachtel over at USA and then Angela Bromstad, who was the head of [NBC at that time], were really supportive about me making that transition to go onto USA and to do this show. They were really excited for me to do it. It meant a lot. It really is kind of like a family. You hear that word and you’re like, “Yeah, whatever, they’re talking the talk,” but it really wasn’t like that. They were incredibly supportive and really cared about my career. I’m really grateful for it.

AX: Tell us about your COVERT AFFAIRS character Jai Wilcox.

RAMAMURTHY: I’m playing a CIA operative. They’re not “agents,” they’re “operatives.” That’s the proper term. Jai Wilcox is CIA royalty. Actually, Jai’s father [played by Gregory Itzin, 24’s President Logan] used to head the CIA and he’s kind of living in his dad’s shadow a little bit, trying to break out. Familiar theme, huh?

AX: Besides playing characters who are working through past and present conflicts with their fathers, are there similarities for you between COVERT AFFAIRS and HEROES?

RAMAMURTHY: It’s just a really different part for me, it’s a totally different experience. [HEROES] was a huge, sprawling, giant show with twelve cast members and giant special effects, and this is more of a character-based thing. There are five series regulars on the entire thing. It’s very character-based and I get to do a slightly arrogant, cocky, smooth talker. My whole job as an actor is to come in every day to work and flirt with Piper. That’s what we do. I have a very flirtatious relationship with her.

AX: Is it a relief getting to talk in your own accent?

RAMAMURTHY: It’s nice, it’s a nice change. Actually, I did a movie called SHOR IN THE CITY – in that one, I’m American.

AX: Is that a Bollywood film?

RAMAMURTHY: It’s a Bollywood film in that it’s shot in Mumbai, but it’s like a psychological thriller/crime drama. It’s basically about an American who comes over to set up a non-profit organization in India and ends up gets muscled by the Mafia and they go after the girl that he falls in love with and in the end, they push him too far, and it [shows] the depths that he’s willing to go to push back and fight back.

AX: Would you say that’s your Charles Bronson role?

RAMAMURTHY: Maybe towards the end, but all the way through it, no. He’s just like a guy whose heart is in the right place and he gets pushed too far.

AX: Did you speak Hindi for that?

RAMAMURTHY: No. It’s actually kind of cool. There are three different storylines – two of them are in Hindi and mine’s in English.

AX: Back to COVERT AFFAIRS, did you get to do any research on CIA operatives before you started work on it?

RAMAMURTHY: No, because I actually came on after the pilot. They shot the pilot while I was still on HEROES. And then I think they decided to make some sort of change, and I came in on the second episode. We found out HEROES was canceled and I was shooting the third episode of this. Never unemployed – because I was still under contract. It was still an NBC show. It’s NBC and they said, “We’ll let you go to do this show, because it’s for us.” And I said, “Okay.” And we all knew that there was a chance that [HEROES] wouldn’t come back, so we were all covering our butts a little bit and it worked out.

AX: How did you feel about the way HEROES ended in terms of the storyline?

RAMAMURTHY: I think they needed more. We needed to tie up stories and unfortunately, we weren’t able to. I didn’t fully believe we weren’t coming back until literally, we got the call. I just always thought that we would come back and it’s still kind of a little bit of a shock. That was tough, because that was a season finale – that wasn’t a series finale. And again, there are all sorts of issues that come into play. There are financial issues. I would love for there to be a movie to wrap it all up. Realistically, though, if you’re asking me, and this is not based on any sort of inside information at all, it’s just I can’t see how logistically that happens. A lot of us are off doing other things, and if it could work out, I would be totally up for it, if it could work out, I would love to do it, but I’m kind of dubious about how they could do it.

AX: On HEROES, it seemed like Mohinder went very dark there for awhile, wrapping people in cocoons and so on, and once he stopped being dark, there weren’t really repercussions for him. Did you ever think, “Shouldn’t there be a little more fallout from his actions?”

RAMAMURTHY: Yeah. I think we all did. That was one of those things. You do what you can with what you’re given. Because a lot of us were doing things that we were like, “How are we doing this [without karmic payback]?” But in the end, it was still an amazing experience for me, and it opened up so many doors and it brought me to COVERT AFFAIRS. So I have nothing but good memories.

AX: You came to COVERT AFFAIRS after the rest of the cast was in place. Was it easy to fit in?

RAMAMURTHY: You know, surprisingly, it was. I came off such a great experience with HEROES. Our cast was so tight and I’m still in contact with all of them. That doesn’t happen a lot and I was not expecting it [on COVERT AFFAIRS, but] we get along like a house on fire, me and Piper and Chris [Gorham] particularly. We’re always working together, we do most of our stuff together and we just get along really well. We’re so happy to be there and we’re really invested in the work and we’re just enjoying ourselves tremendously. I love every second of it. It’s one of those things where you don’t have as much time, but there are these very intricate fight sequences that we’re doing. They brought in a Cirque du Soleil performer, and he trained me to do a whole parkour [free running] chase scene, where I’m running across shipping containers and bouncing off walls and doing shoulder rolls. It was awesome. I saw it all cut together and it’s great.

AX: Is parkour something you now want to try to do recreationally?

RAMAMURTHY: Parkour is something I want to do and that the insurance company will not allow me to do. I probably pushed it a little further than they wanted me to. Anything remotely dangerous they just don’t [allow]. It’s not worth it – I’m not looking to get hurt. In the end [if an actor is injured], that will stop production. You want to do as safe, but you want to add as much authenticity as possible. It’s very obvious when they’re shooting a guy from behind, it’s not you, it’s your stunt double.

AX: What would you most like audiences to get out of COVERT AFFAIRS?

RAMAMURTHY: Well, you know, it’s USA. It’s all about the characters. And as much as we do these action sequences that are fun to do, I love my character and I love the other characters that I’m working with and I’d love [viewers] to go away being invested in the story, just being invested in these people’s lives, and so far, it seems like they are. The feedback has been really, really great. Just tune in. It’s pretty cool.

2010 Interview – Rediff Movies

October 28th, 2010 | Posted by Jenn in Interviews | Press - (0 Comments)

Original Link: http://movies.rediff.com/slide-show/2010/jan/21/slide-show-1-sendhil-ramamurthy-on-shor.htm
Author: Matthew Schneeberger

In decades past, Indian-origin actors in Hollywood were relegated to narrowly-defined, cliched roles like nerdy doctors, penny-pinching store owners and the occasional terrorist.

And while that still largely holds true, a new generation of Western desis is challenging this convention.

35-year-old Indian-American actor Sendhil Ramamurthy leads that charge.

One of the stars of hit US drama series Heroes — he plays geneticist Mohinder Suresh — Ramamurthy has become a household name in America. And not as a religious extremist or an object of cruel school-yard pranks or a guy with the over-the-top Indian accent.

Quintessentially tall, dark and handsome, Ramamurthy’s a true South Asian sex symbol, and has twice been named to People Magazine’s annual ’100 Most Beautiful’ list. (Sorry, ladies, he’s happily married to Polish-born British actress Olga Sosnovska. They have two kids, a daughter and a son.)

Now, partially in an effort to reconnect with his heritage, Ramamurthy — an American born in Chicago and raised in San Antonio — is actively seeking roles in Indian cinema. But not just any roles, as he’s quick to specify.

“I’ve wanted to work in India for some time now. I’ve been looking for something to bring me here,” he explains. “But the right script, the right role, just hadn’t come along. And I didn’t want to compromise at all on that point.”

Then, last August, 99 directors Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK flew to Los Angeles to meet him, for a part in the full-length version of Shor, a title for which they’d already shot a 14-minute short film. He immediately fell in love with the story, as well as the directors’ style, and signed on, without having read the script.

“I knew this was the right move,” he explains. “Everything clicked.”

rediff.com’s Matthew Schneeberger caught up with Ramamurthy at a Mumbai five-star hotel, where he’s staying while shooting in the city for Shor, which is being produced by Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Telefilm’s new Alt Entertainment division.

Ekta Kapoor is known as the queen of saas-bahu serials. But Shor is obviously very different. Tell us about the film.

It’s a gritty thriller drama, set in contemporary Mumbai. And it gets right into the heart of the modern urban Indian experience. No songs and dances.

The film has three separate but interrelated story-lines, of which two are in Hindi and one in English. Mine is in English.

That’s good for me because I don’t know a word of Hindi. I can speak Kannada, as my family comes from Bangalore, but Hindi is completely new to me. So I only have about 15 words of Hindi dialogue, which I’ve put on my iPod, so I can keep them on loop, listening and practising.

I play a young, privileged NRI (non-resident Indian), who was born in India before moving to the West. Now he’s come back to Mumbai, and wants to start an NGO, to help those less fortunate. Tusshar Kapoor and (British actress and Miss Great Britian 2006) Preeti Desai are my co-stars.

I can’t say too much without revealing some of the plot. But it’s a very exciting film with a fantastic climax.

From what I understand, the Alt Entertainment division is a new direction for Ekta, and adds a new component to the Balaji brand. It will focus on promoting young and upcoming Indian directors, in a conscious effort to create cross-over films that can appeal to both Indian and international audiences.

I think Shor definitely has those characteristics, and is a great candidate for becoming a cross-over hit.

How has shooting gone? What’s it like working in Bollywood as compared to Hollywood?

Shooting here has been an entirely new experience. It’s chaotic, and definitely not what I’m used to. While Hollywood seems much more organised, here everything manages to fall into place and come together at the last minute. But you can’t detract from what they’re doing, because it works.

Far and away, Bollywood produces more movies than anywhere else, produces some truly great films, and has a global audience. So they obviously know what they’re doing.

As for Mumbai, shooting here is difficult, but also full of opportunity. There are just so many people, and so much going on, that it takes a lot of skill and a good bit of luck to get the perfect shot. It can be frustrating, and there have already been times when I’ve been ready to throw myself in front of oncoming traffic. But that wouldn’t do anything because the traffic isn’t moving!

Additionally, where we’ve been shooting (near shanties in Versova, suburban Mumbai), not only was it hard to shoot logistically, it was also difficult to see so much poverty. But I’ve realised that, as hard as their lives are, they’re happy. They’re smiling. They don’t want your pity. So it’s been a great learning opportunity for me too, as it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

But we’re now in a groove as far as shooting goes. And, while it’s still early, I’ve seen some of the material: Simply gorgeous. Full of colour and texture. Raj and DK are geniuses.

I’ll be here through January 26, and then I’m off for the Sundance Film Festival, for the premier of It’s A Wonderful Afterlife (a Gurinder Chadha romantic comedy, starring Ramamurthy). They had to condense my shooting schedule because I’ll be leaving early, which means my time here has been really hectic. I haven’t really had a chance to see the city, or even to take a second to breathe. Today (this interview was conducted on January 19) is my first day off, and I’m spending the whole day doing interviews with the press.

How have you been received here in Mumbai? By fellow actors? By the man-on-the-street?

Everyone has been very welcoming and kind.

And, surprisingly, people know me. Coming here, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew Heroes was on TV in India, but I didn’t know what time it aired or if it was on a major channel. Turns out, a lot of people watch it! Just the other day, I was out by the pool at the hotel, and an Indian woman came up to me and congratulated me on my success, and said how much it meant to her to have an Indian on prime-time television in the US. While I’ve been out shooting, people have come up to me to talk about Heroes. It’s all been very humbling.

As for people in the entertainment industry here, they’ve been great. Ekta threw a party for me soon after I arrived, and it was very humbling. People were familiar with my work, and had very complimentary things to say. Plus, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of people.

Also, it was interesting to be surrounded by chocolatey-looking people. At these types of parties in Hollywood, I’m often the only brown guy. Yet, the party still had similar vibes to a Hollywood party. The fraternity is the same. The conversations are similar — about scripts, roles, directors to work for, etc.

Could you see yourself shifting entirely to Indian cinema and living here full-time? Would you ever do a Bollywood masala film, with song and dance?

The way I see it, right now, I will keep one foot in Hollywood and one in Bollywood. As an actor, it’s very important to keep your options open. So I’m happy to work in India. I’m happy to work in America. Actually, I’ll work anywhere, provided the script is right. For me, it’s all about the script.

As for song-and-dance Bollywood, I can appreciate that kind of film, and I’d never say never. It’s just that right now, it’s not what I’m looking for. I’ve been offered it before, but not exactly what I wanted to do. I’m glad I waited, too. Because the whole experience with Shor has proved to be worth it. Again, though, never say never [laughs].

As for living here, I don’t think I would. Right now I live in Los Angeles, for Heroes. But New York and London have a special vibe that best suits me. I’d like to end up in one of those places.

You were a pre-med major in university, hailing from family of doctors. Why did you suddenly switch to acting? How was that received by your parents? Had you ever shown interest in acting before?

Well, to be honest, I hated medicine. I hated hospitals. I hated everything about it. I would have been the worst doctor ever. I think that, unconsciously, I was looking for a way out. I felt trapped. Sure, I got good grades, and it might have seemed like I was ready for med school. But I realised that the life just wouldn’t work for me.

As for acting, it was a total accident.

In order to fulfill an arts credit that I needed to graduate from university, I took an intro to acting class in my junior year. At the time, acting wasn’t even on my radar at all. Growing up, I just played tennis. I wasn’t into television or movies. It was the furthest possible thing from my mind.

So I took this class, and ended up skipping most of the sessions. Like I said, I had no interest in it. But as part of our final grade, we had to complete an audition for a school production, and have a sheet signed to prove we actually went out and tried. So I went and tried out for a part, without giving it a second thought. But I got chosen!

Immediately, I told the casting director that I wasn’t an actor, that I didn’t think I could do it. But he said, ‘Okay, sure, I can fill the part. Don’t worry about that. But this is college. You’re young. You’re supposed to be experimenting and trying new things.’

I decided to do just that, and surprisingly, loved every minute of it. The rehearsals. Learning my part. The actual performances. All of it just swept over me, and I knew it’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I realised that I could never be happy doing anything else. Soon after, I decided to go to drama school.

Of course, my parents were shocked, which was a fair reaction, because earlier I had never showed any predilection toward acting. None whatsoever.

But they’ve been absolutely amazing about the whole thing, and incredibly supportive. They paid for my drama school, they came to New York and London for every play I performed in. They’ve been there every step of the way as I made way into television and film.

Obviously, Heroes was big. At least I was playing a doctor. And I was getting paid ever better than one! Finally, they didn’t have to send me money anymore. I was no longer the stereotypical starving artist. It’s been nice to treat them, after having them treat me for my entire life. For example, this summer I took my family to Paris. We’re all tennis fanatics, so we went for the French Open. It felt great to give back a little.

How did Heroes come about?

Earlier, I had been convinced I would only be a stage actor. I never thought I could be a lead on a commercially successful television show because that’s not what I saw on television. No one looked like me, or had a name like mine.

At the time, all the roles for South Asians were stereotypical, and not things I wanted to do. You have to fight against those roles. And since I wouldn’t do them, my agents wouldn’t even send me those scripts. You have to stand up for your principles.

As for Heroes, I really liked the part of Mohinder Suresh. He had a lot of nuance and depth, beyond the normal two-dimensional Indian characters. But the part was written for a much older person, someone in their 50s. That actually helped me because I never really thought I had a shot. They would have to rewrite much of the character if they were to cast me, and I didn’t think that was a possibility.

So I just went out totally relaxed, and auditioned. But as they narrowed the field, and I kept getting called back, I realised that I had a real chance. When it was just me and another actor left, and we had to audition for NBC, that’s when it really hit me. I was so nervous, sweating through my shirt, drying off my underarms in the bathroom, etc.

Luckily, it happened, and my life changed. But not immediately. After the pilot was shot, I was like, ‘So, now what? It’s only a pilot. Who knows if it will get picked up?’

But after the first episode aired, and the results came in, that’s when I said, ‘Wow. This is probably going to be around for a while.’

And suddenly I was everywhere — on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, on Regis, on The View, etc. It was all so surreal. All I could think was, ‘I grew up watching these shows. What am I doing here on set?’

You’ve been called a South Asian sex symbol. How does that feel? Do you think you’re helping to shift paradigms about what it means to be an Indian actor in the US?

First of all, Indian people are beautiful, and we are sexy. Let’s set the record straight.

But I try not to get all wrapped up in those lists and titles and awards. In 2007 and 2008, I made the People’s Most Beautiful List. But in 2009 I did not. What happened? Am I not sexy anymore? It’s silly to get so involved in that, and let it define you.

When it happened though, it was a combination of flattering and downright strange. People were coming up to me on the streets and in airports. I was reading about how handsome I was.

My wife loves it, and uses it to joke at my expense. It’s good that she’s there to bring me down some. We’ve been together since long before all this craziness occurred.

The role of Mohinder Suresh has definitely opened a lot of doors for me, and hopefully other South Asians as well. In the future, I can only hope that Indians will get more and more opportunities to do work with real depth.

But it’s been four years now, and I’m ready to move on.

Any advice for aspiring actors?

It’s important to remember that I got really lucky. I know many actors who are incredibly talented but can’t get that lucky break. Ninety percent of actors are of the ‘starving artist’ variety. And I’ve been there. It sucks. If you can do something else, something more stable, and be happy doing it, you should. Acting is only for those who can’t do anything else.

2010 Interview – IBN Live

October 28th, 2010 | Posted by Jenn in Interviews | Press - (0 Comments)

Original Link: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/sendhil-on-its-a-wonderful-afterlife/112728-8.html?from=hp&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=ping.fm
Author: Shweta Parande

He became famous as the geneticist in hot TV series Heroes. And now he’s playing a major role in Gurinder Chadha’s It’s a Wonderful Afterlife, releasing in May 2010. IBNMovies spoke to Sendhil Ramamurthy in an EXCLUSIVE interview on his experience, and also his Bollywood plans.

First up, let’s talk about your experience working on the much loved TV show, Heroes.

It was an amazing experience to be a part of a show that blew up to be so big and has captured the imagination of people worldwide. It runs in 226 countries, and there’s no place where people don’t know who we are. It’s been four great years of working on it, and the show has opened doors for more work – for all of us.

How kicked were you playing a geneticist in Heroes?

Well, I’d really been doing theatre when I landed the role. So, I was just excited to have a job, because it paid well. And it was a sprawling concept, very filmic in nature. They have spent a lot of money.

You mean, Heroes was shot on a movie camera?

Yes, it was fully shot on Panavision film, which is very rare these days.

Had you seen any of Gurinder Chadha’s films before you accepted It’s a Wonderful Afterlife?

I had seen Bend It Like Beckham, which was terrific. I knew that she was doing very commercial, popular films. I accepted Wonderful Afterlife…because was very different from Heroes, and also, it fit into my schedule.

How was it working with Shabana Azmi?

Amazing. We don’t have too many scenes together, but even watching her was great – someone so much more experienced than I am.

Tell us about your B’wood project, Shor. How did you land the role?

I finished shooting it in February. The writer-directors Krishna D.K. and Raj Nidimoru flew to LA and offered the role to me over breakfast. They showed me their short film which went to Cannes, called Short, which I liked. My role in Shor is that of an NRI who comes to set up a non-profit organisation in India and gets caught up in corruption and the mafia. I work with a terrific new actress, Preeti Desai who’s been Miss Great Britain in 2006.

Are there anymore Bollywood films in your kitty?

I don’t speak Hindi, so only if films are being made in English, I can do them. There are three stories in Shor, and my story is in English. So, I’m looking at more crossover and character-based kind of films. But say, if Ashutosh Gowariker is making a film in English, I can be a part of such projects.

You’re a Tamilian. Have you been approached for a role in south Indian cinema?

I have been recently approached for a Tamil and a Kannada film. But I will wait for the right script.

How do you research for your role? What is your approach?

It depends on the character. In Afterlife…, I play a cop. So, I roamed around with the London Metropolitan Police, and talked to them.

Will you go back to theatre?

Yeah. I did theatre in New York and London, and would love to do something on the West End or Broadway.

2010 Interview – The Hindu

October 28th, 2010 | Posted by Jenn in Interviews | Press - (0 Comments)

Original Link: http://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/metroplus/article390805.ece
Author: Harshikaa Udasi

With “It’s a Wonderful Afterlife” premiering this week and a new TV series lined-up, Chicago-born Tamilian Sendhil Ramamurthy has a lot to look forward to.

It’s 10.30 at night in LA when we manage to speak to an exhausted Sendhil Ramamurthy, done with the day’s interviews and trying his best to not let the hoarseness in his voice show. “Anything for the film,” he says, speaking of Gurinder Chadha’s It’s A Wonderful Afterlife in which Sendhil plays a British cop. He’s dejected that he won’t make it to India for the promotions or the Mumbai premiere on May 7 (though he is flying to London this week for its premiere) as he begins work on the new NBC series “Covert Affairs”. Needless to say, he wants to pack in as much as he can from overseas to familiarise with Indian audiences.

If you are still wondering Sendhil (who?), then the introduction goes thus. This man of Indian origin is all the rage in the U.S., thanks to a television series by Universal-NBC called “Heroes”where he plays a geneticist by the name Mohinder Suresh. Incidentally, this role was initially etched out for a 55-year-old, but Sendhil’s audition and screen test turned the tide in favour of this much younger person.

The Tamil boy was born in Chicago after his physician parents migrated from Bengaluru. If fate had not intervened in the form of a necessary class involving introduction to acting, then Sendhil would have gone the medical way. But here he is: Making his own space in the acting world in the U.S. and ensuring that he stays miles away from stereotypical ‘Indian’ roles.

“I don’t find them interesting,” he says of stereotypical Indian roles that Indian actors abroad mostly get. “But acting is horrid business; sometimes you just need the work to pay your rent so I don’t fault Indian actors who end up taking those roles. I have just been fortunate that I don’t have the compulsion to accept roles defined by my ethnicity.”

While his role in “Heroes”stands out among the many he has done for “Casualty”, “Guiding Light”, “Ultimate Force”, “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Numb3rs”, Sendhil’s wheel of fortune is once again expected to turn with his two films: Gurinder Chadha’s It’s A Wonderful Afterlife and DK and Raj’s Shor. In Gurinder’s IAWA, Sendhil plays an undercover cop who is sent in to investigate a spate of murders in an Indian neighbourhood. The film stars Shabana Azmi as a mother who is obsessed with the idea of getting her daughter married. “It’s a romantic comedy with two parallel love stories: between me and the daughter, and the mother and the daughter. Gurinder makes unabashedly commercial films and I think it’s not a bad thing to do.”

A pot-boiler

Ask how he fitted into a Gurinder Chadha movie that has all the ingredients of a pot-boiler complete with song and dance sequences and a loud Punjabi flavour to it, and he cannot suppress a chuckle. “If you are asking me whether I did a jig in this film, the answer is yes but only at the roll of the credits in the end which is mandatory in all of Gurinder’s films. But there you have to do your own thing not be your character in the film. So that was fine! Fortunately for me and the audience, my role didn’t demand me to shake a leg,” he laughs.

Shor, on the other hand, is a gritty drama involving three storylines — two in Hindi and one in English. Shot in Mumbai early this year, the film is expected to release by year-end. “What made me pick up Shor,even when I didn’t know much of the directors, was I realised that they had the potential to make a fabulous film when they showed me a short film on which they have based it,” says Sendhil.

The actor is interested in doing roles in crossover cinema, notwithstanding the length of the role. “I really don’t care if it is the lead or a supporting role or even a cameo. The script has to speak to me. Otherwise an office job is a much more stable option than acting. Also the director should be someone I can trust,” he says.

New TV show

There’s a lot of excitement this year for the actor as he embarks on a new TV series, titled “Covert Affairs”,playing an American CIA agent. “It’s a very different show from ‘Heroes’ as the latter was a sci-fi theme, while this belongs to a sleek sexy spy genre. We begin shooting on April 20 and it will take the next five months.” So does that signal the end of “Heroes”? “No decision has been taken on the fifth season yet. But I was looking to do something new and ‘Covert Affairs’came along. Thankfully, it was the same studio producing the two series and I asked if I could switch. But I may be asked to guest act in ‘Heroes’ to wrap up my character.”

And if that’s not all, Sendhil even has a Hollywood film waiting in the wings. But hush! We’ll have to wait a while before we get the details on that one.

2010 Interview – Elle India

October 28th, 2010 | Posted by Jenn in Interviews | Press - (1 Comments)

reposted from original text.

On the hit show Heroes, Sendhil Ramamurthy plays Mohinder Suresh, a geneticist from Chennai who seeks out humans with super powers. In real life, Ramamurthy appears to have a superpower of his own: everywhere he goes, he makes people stop and stare. It might be the tall, five-foot-ten frame, or that lanky male model build or that smooth, dark brown skin. Or that chiseled face. Or the mass of black curls that almost floats on his head, like a cloud, or perhaps, a halo. Because Ramamurthy, while he looks like a bad boy – he’s sporting a two-day stubble, he curses every so often, he’s wearing a cap indoors, the buttons on his white T-shirt are left open to reveal part of his chest, and yes, ladies, there are abs – he is really one of the good guys.

After all, he’s been married since he was 24, to Olga Sosnovska, whom he met at acting school in London. They were in the same class; he played Orlando and she played Rosalind in Shakespeare’s As You Like It; they fell madly in love. Sendhil wanted to propose, but he was broke, living off his parents. He brought home a Tiffany catalogue to pick out a “really, really tiny, miniscule” diamond ring. (To show just how tiny, he breaks the corner edge off of a cheeseling.) But Olga spotted the catalogue, and, in secret, went out, bought herself an antique Victorian ring, and popped the question to him. Sort of.

“She opened the box up, and said, ‘Do you have something to ask me?’ Then she gave me the bill so I could pay her back,” Sendhil laughs. “My wife must be the only woman in the world for whom the idea of a Tiffany engagement ring is a nightmare.” (Sendhil and Olga now live in LA with their two children and his jaguar XKR, which, he says; he “loves as a third child.”)

It’s funny how things work out. Sendhil was more than halfway through his pre-med programme at Tufts University in Boston when, “a very pretty girl, whom I was only slightly after, was taking Introduction to Acting. So I followed her into the class. It was only later that I discovered she was lesbian.”

The reluctant actor ended up winning the starring role in a college production. “I loved every second,” he says, longingly. “I loved the camaraderie, the fraternity of the cast.” He dropped organic chemistry and physics, but he didn’t tell his parents (both doctors) until much later, when he pleaded with them to allow him to attend drama school in London. (“It was like a UN negotiation.”) They relented. Ever since, they haven’t missed a single opening night.

“I knew that being an actor, I was going to have real issues,” Sendhil recalls. “I’m Indian—I’d never seen anyone on screen that looked like me. I had a face for radio. I would only ever be the sidekick, never the main character. Casting-wise, I shat the bed. I got it,” he smiles. “I knew I’d be poor, I’d struggle. But I wanted to do it.”

In another stroke of chance, the part of Mohinder Suresh on Heroes was designed for a 55-year-old man, but Sendhil’s audition so impressed the producers, they rewrote the role. The rest, as they say, is history. “My best friends in LA are from the show,” says Sendhil, “Santiago Cabrera, Jack Coleman, Adrian Pasdar and I run and sail together. It’s taken awhile for me to get comfortable in LA. There’s not very much culture, you’re always in your car…” he trails off. “Although, travelling from Versova to Calaba in Mumbai today, I don’t think I can complain about LA traffic anymore!”

Sendhil is in Mumbia for Shor, a film by Balaji Telefilms that also stars Tuddhar Kapoor. It’s the opportunity he’d been awaiting for a long time, he says. “I grew up in Texas, surrounded by a small but vibrant Indian community. We celebrated Diwali and Ganesh festivals. But it wasn’t until I was older that I realized how much I wanted to spend time in India, find my roots” he laughs. “I became wistful for a place I’d never been. I can only compare it to the feeling a woman has when she starts longing for a baby.”
“Ideally,” he says, “I’d have one leg here and one leg in Hollywood. (He straddles the table with ultra-long legs to demonstrate) “I mean, India is bankrolling Hollywood, reliance is taking over the world. But more than anything, it’s this kind of work that I’m excited about. It’s not your standard song-and-dance movie. It’s really special. My agents couldn’t believe it when I told them I finally found a script I loved and wanted to be a part of.”

Sendhil pauses. “Don’t get me wrong, making money is great. I have expensive tastes- I like to travel, buy cool things, and I’m a clothes whore.” He flashes a smile, no doubt thinking of his Jaguar, his bespoke suits, his six pairs of Prada shoes, his Patek Philippe, IWC and Baume & Mercier watches. “And financially, Heroes has been fantastic. But I’ve banked that away. I’ve got my fingers crossed, you know? It’s a rollercoaster ride, being can actor. You never know when it’s all going to go tits-up.”

For now, tits-up is hardly an option. Even if Heroes doesn’t get picked up for another season, Sendhil has Gurinder Chadha’s It’s a Wonderful Afterlife out now, where he showcases his comic skills. And Shor is bound to make Bollywood take notice. He has other projects in the pipeline too, which he can’t talk about yet, but leading man in Hollywood isn’t far away. The night before our meeting, he was mobbed by photographers at a Louis Vuitton event where he chatted with Freida Pinto. A tennis fanatic, he recently took his family to the French Open, stayed at the Ritz and rubbed shoulders with Antonio Banderas. Yes, face-for-radio Sendhil Ramamurthy might just prove that you don’t need superpowers to get to the top after all.

2010 Interview – MySanAntonio.com

October 28th, 2010 | Posted by Jenn in Interviews | Press - (2 Comments)

Original Link: http://www.mysanantonio.com/entertainment/movies/article/S-A-actor-bonds-with-his-Covert-character-783545.php
Author: Jeanne Jakle

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Former “Heroes” star Sendhil Ramamurthy has wanted to be James Bond ever since he was a kid growing up in San Antonio.

“I’d jump at the chance to play him,” the Keystone School grad told me in a one-on-one interview at a breakfast sponsored by USA Network.

Sitting across from Ramamurthy, I could see it: those handsome chiseled features and that ultra-refined way of speaking. Moreover, he’s charming as all get-out.

His favorite James Bond? Sean Connery, but Ramamurthy realizes he’s “more in the Pierce Brosnan vein.”

Though he’s yet to get that call from the Broccolis (longtime producers of the 007 movies), he does play a Bondlike character in the espionage drama “Covert Affairs.”

It airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on USA and co-stars Piper Perabo (“Coyote Ugly”) as a fellow operative. His character, Jai Wilcox, “comes from CIA royalty,” he said. Jai’s dad, played by Gregory Itzin (“24”), was the former head of the CIA, “kind of a disagreeable dude,” Ramamurthy said, who’s introduced in the fifth installment, which airs Tuesday.

The best thing about that episode, at least from my perspective, is it’s so Ramamurthy-heavy.

“I do all kinds of action stuff,” he said, something he didn’t get to do much of as scientist Mohinder Suresh on “Heroes.”

“In ‘Heroes,’ I was more on the receiving end — always getting punched and bloodied up,” he said.

His “Covert” character is less cerebral, “more calculating,” with a secret — involving Perabo’s character — “that affects his job, his personal life, everything,” he said.

Shooting Tuesday’s episode was “the most fun I ever had,” he said, explaining that the show even “brought in guys from Cirque du Soleil to train us.”

Scenes involve “running across the docks in New York (really Vancouver, where the series is filmed) … across shipping containers and bouncing off walls. Anything the insurance company would let me do, I’d do.”

He said he loves working with Perabo, hinting his flirtatious relationship with Annie Walker may turn into something more as the series develops. Another plus: a wardrobe that would make Bond proud.

“We get to wear clothes no CIA operative could ever afford,” he said. For him, that means lots of tailored Zegna suits and designer shoes.

He then spilled a few action tricks.

“I do a lot of running and jumping around shipping containers in Prada shoes,” he said, so “they pad them up and put an insole in each of them” to prevent knee injuries.

“They also put moleskin on the bottoms, so you can take those corners and not go careening into a wall.”

Ramamurthy leaves every shred of glamour behind, however, when he returns home to his wife and two kids, ages 4 and 2. There, “I’m mostly haggard,” he said. “Being a dad of young kids makes you haggard.”

This was hard to believe as I stared at the impeccably groomed man. sitting across from me. Yes, sir, getting up close with the actor who aspires to be Bond was a highlight of this year’s trip to Hollywood.

Don’t be surprised to see Ramamurthy in the Alamo City soon. He said he’ll be gathering his family and coming home for visits with his parents in September or October and again for Thanksgiving.

2010 Interview – Bullz-Eye.com

October 28th, 2010 | Posted by Jenn in Interviews | Press - (0 Comments)

Original Link: http://www.bullz-eye.com/television/interviews/2010/covert_affairs.htm
Author: Will Harris

Everyone knows by now that the USA Network is a place where characters are welcome, and in the case of their newest series, “Covert Affairs,” it’s clear that character actors are greeted with open arms as well. You’ll get dizzy trying to play the “They Used To Be On…” game with the cast, which features alumni of “24” and “Invasion” (Kari Matchett), “Harper’s Island” and “Ugly Betty” (Christopher Gorham), and even “The O.C.” (Peter Gallagher).

But that’s not all!

During the TCA tour, I had a chance to chat with a few other folks from the show’s ensemble: Sendhil Ramamurthy, best known for playing Mohinder on NBC’s “Heroes,” and Anne Dudek, whose highest-profile role to date was arguably that of Dr. Amber Volakis (deceased) on Fox’s “House.” Both actors filled me in on how they came to “Covert Affairs,” how they’re enjoying the experience thus far, and how they look back on the roles they’re best remembered for…well, at the moment, anyway.

Bullz-Eye: Let me first start by saying that I’m a “Slammin’ Salmon” fan.

Sendhil Ramamurthy: (Clearly surprised, but pleasantly so) Oh, really?

BE: (Laughs) Yeah, man!

SR: I’ll let Jay (Chandrasekhar) know! You know, I’m trying to get him up to direct “Covert Affairs.”

BE: Really? That’d be awesome! Well, I’ll jump back to “Covert Affairs” in a second, but since I’ve already brought up “Slammin’ Salmon,” let’s go ahead and talk about that really quickly.

SR: Sure! Yeah, I shot it during the Writer’s Strike in one day. I came in, did my thing and had a blast, and I was out.

BE: When I talked to Kevin (Heffernan), he said that he’d gone into Jay after “Heroes” premiered and said, “Hey, man, there’s a hot new Indian on the scene. You’re out!” And Jay said, ‘Oh, you mean Sendhil? Dude, you know Sendil! Remember my cousin who stayed with us when we shared an apartment in New York? That was Sendhil!”

SR: Yeah, I was a sophomore in college, and I slept on their couch for two months. Good times. (Laughs)

BE: So how much comedy had you done before “Slammin’ Salmon”?

SR: Very little. That’s why I jumped at the chance. I did that, and I did an episode of “Psych.” Which Jay directed. (Laughs) He asked me to do it. And that’s it for comedy for me, but I want to do more. I actually just had an audition today for an ensemble comedy, so we’ll see. Fingers crossed. I’d love to do more comedy. I really would. It’s something that I haven’t had a lot of experience with, so I don’t know if I’m any good at it… (Laughs) …but I’d love to try it. “Slammin’ Salmon” was certainly fun!

BE: So tell me about the timeline between when you found out that “Heroes” wasn’t coming back and when you picked up the “Covert Affairs” gig.

SR: Total overlap, actually. We all knew that there was a chance that “Heroes” wouldn’t come back, and then the “Covert Affairs” guys called me up and said, “We shot the pilot, but we’re kind of going to bring in another character. We don’t think the character from the pilot is working, so we’re bringing a new one in the second episode, and we’d love to consider you. How would you feel about it?” And I said, “Yeah, I’d be up for it!” Because I’d read the script, I knew that Doug Liman was behind it…I mean, it’s a no-brainer! And they’re, like, “Okay, well, it’s a USA Network show. Even though you’re under contract to NBC still, if you were to be into that, we would work it out.” So I found out that “Heroes” was canceled while I was shooting the third episode of “Covert Affairs.” (Laughs) And as an actor, that’s kind of the dream, you know? That doesn’t really happen. So I got really, really fortunate, and very lucky.

BE: How developed was the character of Jai Wilcox when you first signed on?

“We all knew that there was a chance that “Heroes” wouldn’t come back, and then the ‘Covert Affairs’ guys called me up and said, ‘We shot the pilot, but we’re kind of going to bring in another character. We don’t think the character from the pilot is working, so we’re bringing a new one in the second episode, and we’d love to consider you. How would you feel about it?’ So I found out that ‘Heroes’ was canceled while I was shooting the third episode of ‘Covert Affairs.’”

He was a total sketch. They kind of built him around me, which was cool, because usually you have to go and slot yourself in. But they brought me in, and then they kind of tailored the character to me, which was great. They’d actually already written the first four episodes before I was cast, so for those they did have to just kind of slot me in wherever they could find things for me. But that fifth episode…? That’s kind of my episode, where you learn everything about the character, his background, what makes him tick, why he’s doing what he’s doing. You also learn the big arc that the character will go through. So I’m excited.

BE: You’ve obviously proven that you’re comfortable working in sci-fi drama. How is it working in the real world, so to speak?

SR: You know, it’s kind of cool. (Laughs) I like it. But I like both, so if I can keep my feet in the genre department and do this and do some comedy, I’ll be a happy man. It’s all about doing different things and new things, and I’ve been fortunate enough in my career so far to really get the chance to do the entire gamut of things so far. I feel very fortunate. I just don’t want to blow it. (Laughs)

BE: So looking back on “Heroes,” were you happy with the overall experience of working on that show?

SR: Oh, how could I not be? I mean, listen, it launched all of us in a huge, huge way, and it was one of those things where…well, you know, people can talk about how, ‘Oh, well, this happened to the show, and then the show started doing this, that, and the other,’ but the fact is that I take away nothing but great memories from the show. So to me, that means it was an amazing experience. I’m just grateful for the opportunity that it afforded me. It gave me the chance to be on “Covert Affairs”! I would never have been on “Covert Affairs” if it hadn’t been for “Heroes.” So I’m thankful, I’m grateful, I’m still in touch with all my cast members. I was texting with four of them, like, 20 minutes ago.

BE: Yeah, but be honest: Greg Grunberg was just trying to sell you on his iPhone app, wasn’t he?

SR: Grunny was trying to get me to be on Yowza, yes. (Laughs) But, you know, we’re all doing our thing, and we’re all happy. Everyone’s really grateful for what happened on that show. And I do hope…against all hope, really, to be honest…that there is a way to tie up the story, because that was a season finale, not a series finale. I hope that that’s possible, but, realistically, I know it’s going to be tough to wrangle everybody. But we’ll see.

BE: Do you have a favorite and least-favorite Mohinder storyline?

SR: I think the whole Mohinder-turning-into-the-fly…the thing that I hated the most about that was that, like, I would have 3 AM call times to get all that prosthetic stuff put on. I hated that! (Laughs) But the actual stunt stuff that I got to do, that was pretty cool! And I think my all-time favorite storyline was in the first season , when Sylar and Mohinder go on that little road trip. (Laughs) That psychotic, messed-up road trip. That was a blast, working with Zach. That’s where we became really tight friends, during that whole first season, and that was a huge plus of that storyline. It was fulfilling as an actor, of course, but having that friendship with Zach was really great as well.

BE: And to bring it back to “Covert Affairs” to wrap up, can you kind of give a nutshell synopsis of your character for those who haven’t caught the show yet?

SR: Sure! I play a character named Jai Wilcox, and…he’s kind of CIA royalty. His father was actually the head of the CIA, and his father was, uh, not always the most liked person. (Laughs) And that image has kind of been pushed onto Jai, rightfully or wrongfully, and it’s one of those things where he’s kind of got daddy issues, and he’s trying to escape from his father’s shadow. Hmmm, where have seen that before? It seems vaguely familiar. (Laughs) So I’m treading over that right now, we’re working through it, and…Greg Itzen is playing my dad, and he’s just phenomenal. I’ve had a blast working with him, and I’m getting to do stuff that I’ve never done before. It’s USA, so it’s about the characters and really character-based, and I’m really enjoying that aspect of it, but I’m enjoying the action portion of it, too, because Doug Liman is a master of that stuff. He literally hops on his plane, flies up once a week, goes through the action sequences with us, then he hops back on his plane and flies back to New York. But thanks to that, we’ve got these amazing feature-film-quality action sequences. I did this whole car chase scene where they brought in a Cirque du Soleil performer to train me to do this. Who gets to do that on TV?

BE: Precious few, I’d guess.

SR: Very few people. In movies? Absolutely. But on TV? Almost never. And I’m really happy that they’re really pushing the boat out on that. It’s cool.

BE: Have you got any other irons in the fire? I know you said you auditioned for the ensemble comedy.

SR: I’m auditioning. I’ve got a movie coming out in September called “Shor.” It’s an independent film that I shot, actually, in the slums of Mumbai, which was an experience. I shot it for five and a half weeks, in January and February, and I’m really looking forward to that. It’s kind of a gritty crime drama. And beyond that…? We’ll see what happens!

2010 Interview – Desi Hits

October 28th, 2010 | Posted by Jenn in Interviews | Press - (0 Comments)

Original Link: http://www.desihits.com/news/view/covert-affairs-actor-sendhil-ramamurthy-dishes-about-shor-20101112
Author: Anita Chatterjee

He has lit up the big screen with roles like Jai Wilcox on the USA Network TV show, Covert Affairs, and Mohinder Suresh on ABC’s Heroes. Now the actor has performed in his first Hindi film, Shor (Noise) and he’s enjoying his international acting career. DesiHits.com caught up with Senhill Ramamurthy to see what he is up to and get his thoughts on his career and the state of the film and television industry in the East and West.

You are an established American Television actor, how did you find yourself in a Hindi movie?

It was last year. Last summer Raj (Director) and DK (Director) flew over to LA and they set it up through my agents and they showed me the short they made for Shor for MIACC two or three years ago. And then they asked me if I could play the role and I said I will take look at the script. I first watched the short and after that 14 minute short I said yes right away. I didn’t even read the script, I was like visually I have never seen anything like this come out of India and I thought that it was fantastic!

Have you been looking to get into Hindi films?

I had been looking, scripts keep coming, after you get known scripts start coming, and I was looking for something to take me to India whether it was a U.S. production in India or an Indian production, if I can keep one foot in Bollywood and Hollywood why not. But it had to be the right thing but nothing was capturing my attention until this came along.

What was your first time shooting in India like?

If we are shooting on a street here (in the States) you have 20 cops that shut the street down, there is no shutting a street down in Mumbai, it’s wait till that rickshaw goes by and start talking, that’s what you are doing. And it was so damn noisy and I found it really annoying but, that’s what the movie is about and it wasn’t pleasant always, but it added to the performance and it was a really great experience for me. And I got to see tons of Mumbai. First I was in a wealthy area and then the slums and it was a great way to see Mumbai. And it’s definitely an experience I want to do again!

Directors in the U.S. and India have different techniques when dealing with actors and there are differences in how they run the productions between both countries. Were there any major differences in India that you had to get use to?

Raj and DK are based here in the U.S. so they came at me with a U.S. sensibility, and they knew I would understand that, which I really appreciated. But the terminology is all different, when the DP would be ready to roll and he would be like ‘order,’ I would look for a menu but that means the camera is ready to roll. The people are different, but at the end Bollywood makes more movies than anyone else in the world, so at the end they are doing something right, so I went with it.

Now that you have returned from India what are you up to?

We just wrapped the first season of Covert Affairs, it’s going really, really well. It’s the number one new show on cable television, I start shooting again in March, and now I really need a vacation and I’m going to go away for a little bit somewhere, don’t know where but I’m gonna chill out a little bit.

You have two beautiful children; do you expose them to theater or your projects?

My kids are just naturally dramatic, my daughter kinda gets what I do just ’cause there are posters up all over LA and it’s like ‘look dad’s on the side of a bus.’ My son is two and a half but they don’t get it if someone comes up to me for an autograph, it actually pisses my daughter off cause it’s like ‘no no no this is my time so you go away.’ But they have never seen anything I have done mainly because none of what I have done is appropriate for children.

Speaking of family, what was it like for your parents when you decided to pursue acting?

Listen they were worried, now as a parent I know what that’s like ’cause you worry about your children. This isn’t an easy profession, especially if you are Indian and even if you are not Indian this is not a profession that you go into that will offer you stability. But they knew it was what I wanted to do so they supported it.

What is your message for young Indians who want to pursue acting?

The message is try and do something else seriously, only do this if you have to, if there is absolutely nothing else you can do then be an actor, if you can be a doctor and you will be a good doctor please go be a doctor, be a lawyer and if you can do that and be happy, do that because this is not an easy profession. But if you are passionate about acting and this is something you absolutely have to do, do it. And get trained. I don’t want young Indians to think I am the norm, I’m not; I got really lucky. But if they are passionate about this and ready to take all the rejection and obstacles, go for it. As an Indian, if you are auditioning for a non-Indian role you have to prove yourself even more so than the other actors who auditioned. In Covert Affairs my role was not written for an Indian and I had to prove myself.

Do you have a message for our readers?

Don’t eat yellow snow! I hesitate as an actor to give out messages because there are people far wiser that you should listen to, but I guess my message is pretty much what I gave before to South Asians who want to pursue acting.

2010 Interview – ViewLondon

October 28th, 2010 | Posted by Jenn in Interviews | Press - (0 Comments)

Original Link: http://www.viewlondon.co.uk/cinemas/sendhil-ramamurthy-interview-feature-3721.html
Author: Unknown

Best known for his role as Mohinder Suresh on Heroes, Sendhil Ramamurthy stars in Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha’s film It’s A Wonderful Afterlife, where he plays the childhood friend of unlucky-in-love Roopi, played by Goldy Notay. The actor was recently in London, where he took the time to chat with View’s Matthew Turner about accents, marriage, LA vs London and and life after Heroes.

Being Chicago born and sporting quite a thick accent, how was playing an English character for you?

Sendhil Ramamurthy (SR): It was challenging. I went to drama school here, so I had kind of a beat on it. But I worked with a dialect coach and went through the script a lot with her. I also stayed in the accent on-set, which really helped me as well. That was my contribution to the accent.

Was the accent much different to your Heroes accent?

SR: I softened it a little bit and didn’t make him as proper. But doing Heroes obviously helped me do this.

How did you get involved with the film?

SR: Gurinder called me and asked me to do it. So, I came over here, we met and had lunch for three hours. We talked about the film and what her idea was for the film and for this role. She wanted to know what I was looking to do. But our sensibilities really worked together, so we decided right then to go for it and do it.

There are a lot of scenes where you have to keep a straight face while knowing there are a group of people in the background you’re not supposed to be able to see. How difficult was that? Were there times you broke into laughter?

SR: I found it very difficult because I had very few scenes with the ghosts, whereas Goldy had them around all the time and got used to it. I struggled to get through my two scenes – we burned a lot of film!

You’re constantly being discussed in terms of what you look like in the film. Does that rub off on you at the end of the day?

SR: Yeah, you do… but you try and think of it as how it services the film. And Goldy did a great job of keeping my ego in check by letting me know that I wasn’t all that and a box of biscuits. But it’s part of what the film’s about. It’s not the outer appearance that matters, it’s what’s inside. So, if there’s going to be a moral to this film I would say that’s it. But that means appearances are going to be discussed in the film in order to get that message across. I think that’s how we both approached the film and I tried not to walk around thinking I was some kind of ‘himbo’ being discussed. We tried to do it in service of the film.

Does the arranged marriage theme have any personal resonance for you? Do you know people who have been put in that position, whether it be family or friends?

SR: I think my parents are just excited I settled down at all! So, they were totally cool with it and they really didn’t say much. They were just happy I was getting married, I guess. It really never came up. I just said: “I’m getting married.” And they were like: “Great!” And that was it. But they knew from the way I was growing up that [putting forward candidates] would never fly. So, they never bothered. They literally just left me alone to do my thing.

How much did being a part of Heroes change your life? And how hard is it to find roles in between your Heroes commitments?

SR: It’s really difficult to find roles because you shoot for 10 months of the year, so you have to find something that you want to do and that shoots in your two months off. So, that was one of the major reasons to do this; they were willing to shift the dates a little bit to fit me in. Heroes wrapped me out a week early so I could start on the film. Both sides really worked together to allow me to do the film, so I was very grateful to both NBC and to Universal Studios and to Gurinder.

Obviously, the profile from Heroes is what got me this job in the first place. It’s why Gurinder approached me. So, it’s been a real blessing. It’s opened up so many doors and I’m moving onto other things now. I’m just really excited and grateful for the opportunities that Heroes has given me, and that Gurinder’s film have given me, because Gurinder is very well liked in Hollywood. I’ve been going into meetings recently when all the press is coming out about It’s A Wonderful Afterlife and she’s got a lot of fans at all the studios in Hollywood.

So, 10 months of Heroes and several weeks of this – that leaves you with one week off! Are you a workaholic?

SR: I am actually. But I just think make hay while the sun shines, really, when you’re an actor. When the opportunities present themselves you just better take them, otherwise you just don’t know. If it involves being away from my family for too long, then I would think. But they were with me for the whole shoot. But my wife is British, so it was a no-brainer for me. We used to live here – we lived here for six years. So, it was literally the perfect opportunity. It fit in my eight weeks off, my family came with me and it was with people I wanted to work with. So, it was a very easy decision.

Where do you feel more at home?

SR: I feel more at home in London than in Los Angeles, definitely. If I could have my choice, I certainly would live in London as opposed to LA. I just prefer it here. But I love the work and in LA there’s just so much more of it, and as an actor you kind of have to go where the work is. Luckily, I’ve been able to get the work out there. If work brings me back here, and a project is here and I can do it, I’ll jump at the chance.

What’s next for you?

SR: I’m leaving tomorrow, actually, to go to Toronto and do a new TV series. I’ve left Heroes and am starting a new show called Covert Affairs. It’s abut the CIA and I play an American CIA agent. It’s being executive produced by Doug Liman who did all the Bourne movies and Mr and Mrs Smith and Swingers. I’m really excited to start. It’s a very different role to what I do on Heroes – it’s kind of a kick-ass spy. You get to run around, shoot guns and jump around a bit. So, it should be a lot of fun and I’m really looking forward to it.

Does that mean you’ve tied yourself into another seven years of possible series?
SR: Six years… yeah.