2011 Interview – Fist Full of Comics and Games
Original Link: http://www.fistfullofcomics.com/v2/2011/06/29/turn-me-on-interview-with-sendhil-ramamurthy/
The large group of reporters was bussed to studios where they film Covert Affairs on a sunny Toronto morning. Behind where the standing sets of Annie’s Bedroom and Arthur and Joan’s House fill the large space, a makeshift conference room was set up; this is where the interviews were to take place. The group settled in and waited for the first of several interviews, Sendhil Ramamurthy. Fans of Heroes are sure to recognize the name Sendhil Ramamurthy as Dr. Mohinder Suresh; but on Covert Affairs he is Jai Wilcox, superspy.
Sendhil walked in looking like he just walked off the set with his perfect hair and 5 o’clock shadow (it was 11 in the morning!). This reporter found out first hand that if you want to look like crap, sit next to someone this good looking and put together. A mistake that will never be repeated I can assure you.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Hi, everyone.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Thanks for dropping by.
PANEL: It’s our privilege.
PANEL: I’ll go first, I’m sitting right next to him. James Hamilton with Fist Full of Comics and Games. I want to know, you came from a show, Heroes, that had a very large ensemble cast. This cast is smaller.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Mm-hmm.
PANEL: Is it easier to work with a smaller cast?
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: It’s just different. It’s different working with a smaller cast. You-, well, you have to work more. You know, in, in Heroes, like, if you worked two days a week, three days a week, that was, like, that was your norm. That was, like, a heavy week, unless you were, like, heavy in an episode. Like, a couple episodes, you know, you’d work, you know, every day, but we also had a lot longer to shoot Heroes. This show we do in eight days. It’s an eight-day, eight-day episodes and some of them, like the one we’re shooting right now is a seven-day episode, and we had 12 days to shoot Heroes…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …so it was…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …and we had two units going at all times. It was like a movie. So it’s, it’s, it’s a, it’s a lot less hectic here, much more chilled out, much more contained and, you know, just, it makes it, it, it’s smaller in scale, so it’s – it makes it a little bit easier to do, to do your work.
PANEL: Thank you.
PANEL: How would you describe the mystery of Jai?
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: The mystery of Jai? (Laughter.)
PANEL: We don’t know a lot about him yet. (Laughter.)
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: No, no. And, you know, to be honest, I, I don’t know a ton more than, than you guys do. It’s, it’s a very, very slow burn for Jai, and you get little snippets of his back story. And then I think at some point we’ll probably find out a lot more about where he came from and, you know, maybe what he was doing in London before he came and joined, joined up at Langley, but, you know, this season, it, it goes very, very slowly, and kind of starts going to some, some dark places…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …for Jai. And I, I still have no idea where-, what the ultimate end game is ’cause, like, I can’t figure it out. I mean, this is the next script right here. I haven’t read it yet…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …and they just…
PANEL: Can I see that? (Laughter.)
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …they just hand-, they just handed it to me, but you can, you, you heard it hear first. It’s called, Sad Professor…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …and I’m sure it’ll be a, I’m sure it’ll be a good one. But, yeah, it, it starts out very slowly and kind of like a gentle simmer and then I think towards the end of the, the first part of our seasons, ’cause I guess we’re going to air 10 episodes straight through and then take a break and then come back and do 6. By the end of the first 10 it’ll kind of become apparent what Jai’s end game is for the season. But at the beginning it’s kind of, like, kind of seeing Jai dealing with not having things going his way, and that’s not something that he’s used to. I mean, he always gets what he wants. It’s been like that his whole life. He’s led a very privileged life, yeah, and had a privileged upbringing and he’s not really used to this, but he’s also pretty crafty and willing to do things that maybe others wouldn’t, and maybe that he shouldn’t do to get what he wants, and we’re going to, I think, kind of start exploring that a little bit, and it’s a little bit dark, and it’s kind of cool to play.
PANEL: So what would be Jai’s secret weapon, as far as one of his qualities that he’s trying to maybe utilize to get his goals?
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Well, I mean, I think that he’s, he’s good at talking and talking his way out of things and, or into things, as the case may be, and I’ve heard that I talk myself into something in this episode.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: But, but, yeah, I mean, I think, I think that he’s, he has a lot of tools to his, you know, in his arsenal to kind of achieve what he wants. He can go charm offensive, he can be just a flat out prick, he can be, you know, and try bully his way through, so he kind of does, does what’s needed, kind of assesses the situation and then does what’s needed to get where he needs to be.
PANEL: I was a little curious in the first episode of this season he brought the puzzle books to the hospital for Ben.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Mm-hmm.
PANEL: What provoked that?
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: I think that it was, actually, a genuine moment of this guy, Ben, who, obviously, he’s not on the closest terms with, he’s gone through a lot, and the way I thought about it ’cause I, I, I did think why, on earth, is Jai bringing Sudoku’s…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …to Ben Mercer, like, a dude that he really is not fond of, and I, I kind of took it upon myself that Jai feels somewhat responsible, even though he really couldn’t have done anything, his back was turned at the point, but he was standing there when Ben got shot and he was trying to get them onto the helicopter and he got pegged…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …you know, Ben got shot. And so that’s what I put in my head as the reason that he brought some Sudoku, is basically like, I hate you, but sorry you got shot.
PANEL: (Laughter.) Former glimmer of…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Yeah.
PANEL: …what’s in there.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Yeah, exactly.
PANEL: Speaking of not getting along. By the way, Jeff Kirkpatrick, TV Fanatic.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Hi, Jeff.
PANEL: Are we going to find out ever why there’s so much bad blood between he and Auggie?
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Yeah, I think it’s probably touched on a little bit in further episodes, definitely. I think, actually, the one airing on Tuesday, some stuff comes out. I can’t, I can’t remember ’cause we mixed the order up while we were shooting, so I’m not quite sure what’s aired and what’s not. But, but, yeah, we will and, you know, I think a lot of it just stems from the fact that, like, throughout the CIA for, for Jai is – he’s Henry Wilcox’s son, as, and everybody kind of thinks he must be like him, and I think Jai, listen, Jai could have kind of done anything. He went to Yale and has a good head on his shoulders. He could have gone into anything and probably made a lot of money, but he’s decided to fall into his, you know, go into his father’s line of work, knowing that he didn’t have the greatest reputation and that, you know, he was considered the Prince of Darkness, and, and all of this-, these things at the CIA, and it’s, it’s either balsy, or really stupid of, of Jai to kind of try and go in there, and part of my thinking with the character is he wants to change that perception, not necessarily of, of his father maybe because that may, that boat may have sailed at this point, but, but kind of redeem the family name a little bit and, and just cut his own, cut his own path, ’cause when you grow up, you know, around a certain environment, it’s kind of natural to go, to go and follow your parents’ footsteps, I mean, so…
PANEL: Think part of it, too, is wanting to prove something to his dad?
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Prove something to his dad, especially. I mean, listen, they have a very contentious relationship and, actually, Greg Itzen is up here right now and we’re about to shoot a bunch of scenes tomorrow, which I’m really, really looking forward to ’cause they’re a lot of fun and, actually, there’s like a little bombshell that comes out at the end of one of their conversations and I’m looking forward to playing those moments.
PANEL: Thank you.
PANEL: Melissa from thetelevixen.com.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Hey, Melissa.
PANEL: In the first season, I really, really liked the, the relationship between you and Annie, and I don’t mean this in a romantic perspective, but is that relationship going to continue to grow this season, and is it going to stay more as a friendship, or, like, what direction is it going, or is it going to stay strictly professional?
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Again, I-, the answer is I don’t know…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …but, you know, Jai has-, he has quite a few fires to put out on his own this season that he’s dealing with. The relationship with Annie, I, I suppose is touched on, but I think that it, it’s more of a friendship type of thing. That’s just my own personal thing. I think that last season he, he was on a mission, you know…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …he was, he was doing his job and, you know, there’s certainly a, a kind of familiar air, a familiarity and a, you know, I think they get along…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …really well.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Romantic-wise, I don’t-, I doubt it. I, I don’t see it…
PANEL: Yeah. That…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …but…
PANEL: …I was, I was just thinking more along the lines of if it’s going to stay strictly professional and you guys are colleagues, but, because I saw hints of, like, that friendship creeping in and there was definitely a camaraderie going on in the first season?
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Oh, yeah…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …oh, I see what you mean now…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …yeah, yeah, yeah…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …no. There is, there-, no. The camaraderie is definitely…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …there and…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …you see it in, like, even the episode that we shot, just finished…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …you know, Jai ends up having to go in and, and kind of-, them-, him and Annie are come together at the end of a, of a mission and kind of-, you, you kind of see a, a deepening of their, of their friendship, which, which is, which is cool, which is cool. But for the most part so far Jai’s kind of been off on his own, dealing with, with things that, that he doesn’t really want to be dealing with, to be honest, but he’s forced to, and going down paths that he probably never thought that he would, but he needs to to, to get what he, what he wants.
PANEL: I’m with, I’m Dave from Have You Heard, and so what about Jai, do you think will, will appeal to your audiences?
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: What about Jai…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …do I think will appeal…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …to my audience?
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: I don’t know. I mean, I try, I actually try not to think about appealing to audiences. I just try, try to think about playing the character and, but, you know, I think that, if you, if you’re into the kind of the bad boy thing you’ll, you’ll kind of be attracted to Jai. He just kind of does what he wants and doesn’t really care too much about what anybody else thinks…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …and so that’s the way I’ve tried to approach the character, ’cause as, as you’ll see as you see more episodes, he kind of starts going to places that I, I actually never really thought that he would go, but, but it’s, it’s fun to play and it’s, and it’s dark for, for our show, I think.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: And I’m, I’m interested to see how it’s, how it’s played. Like, there’s something to be said for, for playing a character that doesn’t, you know, doesn’t really-, who, who really marches to the beat of his own drum and isn’t really concerned with what others think of him, as long as he gets what he wants.
PANEL: Sami, TV Grapevine.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Hello.
PANEL: How do you relate to your character, and where do you draw your inspiration to be that bad boy from?
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: My youth. (Laughter.)
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: My youth. No, it’s-, we won’t even get into that, but…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …it’s, you know I’m, I’m finding it surprisingly easy to draw, to draw on this stuff. But because it’s fun. It’s written, it’s written fun, and he’s kind of a naturally flirtatious character and cocky and arrogant, and that can turn some people off. You know, some people just don’t really respond to that and some people do. So that’s where, you know, kind of worrying about what the audience thinks of your character, I don’t see it, how it’s helpful. Just play what’s written and then people will respond to how they want to respond. But it, it’s a lot more fun than playing, like, a full-on good guy, and I think it’s more realistic, simply, like CIA-wise, just because I don’t think anybody in the CIA is all good or all bad. It’s impossible. If you’re going to be successful, anyway, in the CIA, you have to be willing to do some pretty messed up stuff, and I think Jai is more than willing…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …a lot of the times to, to do that, which is why, I think, ultimately, he’ll probably do very well at the CIA.
PANEL: Murtz from Inside Pulse.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Hello.
PANEL: It’s kind of like a follow-up. Do you prefer playing the good guy, or do you like playing a character with more scruples?
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: No, I’m, I’m pretty anti-scruples.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: It’s much more fun to, to, to not have scruples. It can be a dangerous road to go down for a character, certainly, but it’s definitely a more fun road. You know, I pretty much played a good guy on, on Heroes…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …for the whole time, except for this little fly experiment.
PANEL: Yeah. Somebody became like a spider, right?
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Yeah. And, you know, that was fun. That was fun, but it’s nice, it’s always nice to do something different, and that’s what attracted me to the part, is that they were like, no, this guy is not going to be, you know, apple pie, and I said, great, let’s do it! Hello.
PANEL: Jeff, Fellowship Fools.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Hey, Jeff.
PANEL: For season two gearing up, did you do anything to try to, oh, I don’t know, new, new tech training, or did you read up on something that maybe from season one you decided, hey, you know, let’s, let’s look at this and get a little bit more insight of something….
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Yeah. Like physically, actually, I did from season one ’cause we kind of established that Jai’s fluent with Parkour and all of these kind of things, and I thought, well, in case they write something like that, I better limber up, so I started doing a lot of yoga and pilates and, and being more active about working out a little bit more. I’ve always been active and athletic, I play a lot of tennis, but I, I started with that just to see, you know, if-, and, and Jai goes into the field this season and, we get to see, get to see him in action a little bit, which was, which has been a lot of fun and I think that there’s more of that stuff coming up later in the season.
PANEL: Cool. A lot of tech toys on the show, anything you want to take home with you?
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Well, Auggie gets most of the tech toys, to be honest. He’s, he’s the one who gets, like, all the cool stuff, like, for, for-, it’s mainly guns, for me, which I think were cool.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: I’d rather have a gun, but I’ve, I’ve been, you know, I’m, I’m – I’ve had guns blazing in a few episodes now, so that’s, that’s always fun for me…
PANEL: Texan at heart.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Yeah, it is…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …it’s the Texan at heart. I just…
PANEL: I’m in Dallas, sir.
PANEL: I mean, which one’s your favourite so far?
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: It’s been mostly hand guns…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …right now.
PANEL: …but different types.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Yeah. Different types of hand guns, and I got to do some very cool stuff where I was up in a helicopter and then got to come rushing out of it, they, they landed it. We-, we’re in this huge field and…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …got to come out, guns blazing, which is always fun, you know, boys and toys. But, but, yeah, we’ll see, we’ll see if, if there’s some more of that planned further down the season. I’m not, I’m not too sure about that.
PANEL: Hi, Sendhil.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Hey.
PANEL: Sorry I talked to you when I got here, I’m a long-time fan.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Oh, no.
PANEL: I’m Rosy from accidentalsexiness.com.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Great title.
PANEL: Thank you.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Okay.
PANEL: Gorham’s on Twitter, you know how that goes. They-, the show has embraced Twitter, when are we going see you on Twitter?
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Boy. I just don’t see that happening. (Laughter.)
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: I’m going to be honest. I mean, I just, I’m not really a Twitter guy. I don’t – Gorham’s the Twitter guy.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: He’ll, he’ll-, he’s tweeting constantly.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: But I, I, I tend to-, I, I called it the wrong name the other day. I was like…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …are you tweetering?
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: I’m, I’m not, I’m not really proficient with, with it. It’s probably best ’cause I’d probably send something out by accident…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …that shouldn’t be sented, sent out, like Mr. Weiner. (Laughter.) No.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: (Laughter.) I joke, I joke. (Laughter.) But, but, no, Twitter’s not really my, my thing, but I, I know that a lot of people are really into it and enjoying the, the Twitter casts on, on, on, on the computer and stuff, so that’s cool. Like, I think that’s great. It’s a really great way to, to-, for the fans to interact and there was a lot of that going on on Heroes, and I’ve actually made a conscious effort this, this season. I’m going to at least know what’s going-, ’cause people would come up to me and ask me about on line stuff on Heroes and I had no idea what they were talking about.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Like there was a comic book…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …and I’m like we didn’t have anything to do with that stuff, so we didn’t-, you know, there were webisodes and all…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …this stuff, but we weren’t really involved in that, like, the cast. So I’m going to at least know what’s going on. I know that there’s Twitter casts going on about Budapest, and as far as I know that’s it, right?
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Okay. I’m on, I’m on top…
PANEL: You’re caught up.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …of it. I’m on top of it.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: We’re good to go.
PANEL: Thank you.
PANEL: Mo from Buzz Focus. Speaking of Heroes, do you know anything of the-, these follow-up movies that we keep hearing about, these rumours?
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: They’re rumours. I, I, I hear them too. But, I think, I think it’s…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …pretty damn unlikely. I mean, we’re all off, or a lot of us are off doing other things under contracts with different people. It would be-, I mean, I hope that happens, just for the fans’ sake. But, realistically I, I, I just, I don’t see a chance of that happening, not, not with the whole cast together. It, it’d be impossible, just to…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …to kind of get everybody together.
PANEL: Can I ask one more question? I’m Stephanie from Poptimal.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: Hi.
PANEL: I was just wondering, since Piper, she recently went to Paris to film, do you get to go to any cool, exotic locations maybe anytime soon?
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: As far as I know, no.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: I know that Piper went to Paris and Puerto Rico. Auggie-, yeah, Chris is going to Istanbul, and then I’ve heard, but I don’t know if this is actually happening, that they’re planning on a German expedition at some point and maybe one to Norway, to Oslo. So that’s what I’ve heard. I don’t-, those aren’t confirmed, but Istanbul, Puerto Rico and Paris are, are definite.
PANEL: But they’re leaving you behind here?
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: I get left behind…
PANEL: Oh, yeah? Oh.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …for, for reasons which will, which will come out…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …yeah.
PANEL: Sounds like you’ve been starting your trouble.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: I, I don’t think intentionally, but I think ultimately maybe that’s what’s going to happen. Again, I don’t know ’cause we haven’t gotten far enough in, but I think really kind of from the fifth and-, the fifth episodes you see, the fifth episode on, you’re going to see the direction that Jai goes down for the season, and there’s a scene with Joan where he kind of makes a decision as to what he’s going to do and-, which was a lot of fun to, to play…
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: …and you’ll, you’ll kind of know what he’s, what he’s up to, but then I think it twists and it goes in a different direction that you don’t even really expect for the back six. So, so we’ll see.
PANEL: I’m looking forward to it.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: I, I’m looking forward to it. No, I’m having a blast.