Many of you might know the name and if you don’t, you will be sure to recognize the face as Aasif Mandvi. He’s been in various well known movies and television shows, you might be surprised as to just how many of them he’s in! You don’t want to miss one of his best roles in the Million Dollar Arm movie!
During my Disney Press trip to LA, I also had the opportunity to interview Aasif who plays Ash Vasudevan, business partner to JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) in this true heart warming movie. The premise of the movie is that JB Bernstein who career as a sport’s agent is waning decides to go to India to find baseball’s next great pitcher. Baseball is not a beloved sport in India, in fact they don’t have much need for baseball at all, however cricket is huge so Ash and JB scout the cricket pitchers they hope they can turn into a major league baseball star.
Aasif was a wonderful choice to be the co-star to Jon Hamm and he really makes his character come to life.
Here are some of my favorite parts of my interview with Aasif:
Q: I read at one time you were a Performer at Walt Disney World. Did you think you would get to play in Million Dollar Arm and what has that experience been like going into this?
AASIF MANDVI : Into this, in terms of like being Disney? Uh, well you know, I was a Street Performer at the Disney/MGM Studios and uh, and now I was like in a Disney Movie so it’s a very, very different experience. Uh, there’s less Catering involved. You don’t get a Trailer, you don’t get Catering, you know, make up and hair, nothing. Um, so No, it was great. Disney, the MGM Studios was first job out of College so it was kind of, um, an amazing experience to sort of, it was my first Acting job, professional Acting job, you know, and it was really fun.
Like we sort of opened the MGM Studios back in ’89 and uh, and sort of did this, these Street performing Characters and so it was a great place to learn comedy and learn improv and stuff like that so it was amazing, you know. So it was right. Funny when I started. I hope this is not where I end but it’s where I started, you know. So yeah it came full circle, right?
Q : Did you start your career after starting MGM, were you a Stand up Comedian?
AASIF MANDVI : I was never really a Stand up Comedian. I did some Stand-up because I thought maybe I’d like to be a Stand up Comedian but I ended up sort of doing more theatre and going into like I created a One Man Show. And you know, like so, and then as I come back to the Stand up world, since The Daily Show, mostly because people want me to do Stand up. And so and they pay me to do Stand up so I was like al right, I can put together, so I put together. But I don’t consider myself a stand up in the way that John or somebody like that who is. I came more from like the Theatre track, you know so yeah.
Q : So what was your favorite scene to film in the Film and why?
AASIF MANDVI : My favorite scene to film. I mean, it was really actually fun going to India and shooting because you know, having been born there and have family there and have visited India many times, it’s a whole different experience when you go with an American Film Crew to India. It’s actually the best way to see India is to be in the bubble of a big Hollywood Production. You don’t have to deal with any riff raff going around, you know, in an Air Conditioned car and stuff. But it was great, it was like that was actually kind of just experientially, it was just like an amazing experience to go to India and uh, and sort of, it was sort of like for me like I got to visit family. I got to see the Taj Mahal, which I’ve always wanted to and never had. And now I got to do it on Disney’s dime so you know, so it was kind of great. Yeah.
Q : I liked the way your Character was the funny man next to Jon Hamm’s straight man. Was that what attracted you to the Character or what was it that made you want to do this Film?
AASIF MANDVI : Uh you know, I mean I think that he’s I think he’s funny but he’s also the grounding character, you know. He’s the one that sort of is the counter point to Jon Hamm’s sort of Playboy Lothario character. Uh, you know, and I like that aspect of it, you know. I also feel like, uh, it was an interesting character to see as a South Asian Sports Agent because I don’t know any, you know. I’m sure there are but it was sort of an interesting character to play somebody I never played before so uh, I felt that was kind of fun. And then I got to work with Jon Hamm every day who is dreamy so you know, I got do that, you know.
Q: Had you read the story before you knew about the Movie being made?
Aasif Mandvi: No I’d never heard of this. I’m also not a huge sports guy so I didn’t know about the story at all but when I heard about it, because I knew Aash and then there was this whole thing of like ‘Oh, there’s this Movie being made called “Million Dollar Arm” with these two and Aash was the guy who got them to America’ so I knew all of it through my friends that Asch was involved in making this Movie. That’s how I found out about it.
Q : What was it like working with the babies?
AASIF MANDVI : Oh the Twins. Well they had, OK, so they had two sets of Twins. So it wasn’t the same, but you can’t tell because they’re Indian and probably look alike, but if you watch closely, you see that they’re actually two sets of different twins. The twins that I’m feeding in the kitchen are not the same twins that I’m holding on the porch. And what happened on the porch was so we’ve got this, you know, two sets of Indian parents who have these two sets of twins and they’re, poor things sort of hiding off in the corner like new kids would just cry. They would just cry. And we, the scene was not about these kids crying, and Craig Gillespie the Director, he was like, you know, kids cry. So let him just cry because there’s no way we can we couldn’t stop them from crying. So we just used it so they would.
So Craig’s theory was like every time we see Ash and his children, his children are just screaming. And that’s just the reality of his life. So in the bed, they’re crying. They weren’t supposed to be crying. In the kitchen, they’re crying. And then, the piece resistance is that on the porch, the kids were again, crying and I’m supposed to be holding them, and the kid is literally screaming for his mother. He’s just like, I don’t care about your stupid movie, I want to be with my Mom. And he’s like Mom. And finally I have to like so I said to Craig, I said Listen, I can’t do this anymore. This kid is like, there’s snot coming out of him and he’s crying. He’s just a mess, you know. And Craig was like, listen we have, we’ve got to get this shot, OK? We need this shot. I don’t care how much, Just let the kid cry. I don’t care. Just grab him, walk out onto the porch, we get the shot, we’re done. We’re out of here. So I’m like Fine, OK. So they roll Action, I grab this kid, it’s like pulling cheese off a Pizza. It’s literally like I grab this kid. He’s holding on to me, the hair, the thing, and I grab him like come on, come on Sweetie, come on. And we go running on to the porch and I’m standing there getting the shot. I’m shaking him and then suddenly he looks at me and just puked. And it’s just all over my clothes. And twice, he did it twice. So he’s like once, and I, and it’s in the Movie. And you can see it. So like it’s totally real. Like and you see me go from being a char an Actor, I mean like a character in a movie to being an Actor and just going like, somebody please. I take the kid, I’m holding him out here like an actor who’s suddenly been puked on and the kid is just puking. He’s just, there’s puke everywhere. It’s all in my clothes, in my hair. It was just it was yeah. But we got the shot. Yeah.
Q : What was it like portraying a real live person instead of making it up totally and what kind of inspiration did you get from the actual Aash?
Aasif Mandvi: Well I know Aash. I’ve known him. I met him before, I’ve known him from before I did this movie. So we have mutual friends stuff. And he’s not married. He doesn’t have kids. He’s very different than the real, than the real Aash is very different than the Aash in the movie so I didn’t really worry about trying to portray him at all. I just created a character for the purposes of the Film because the real Aash is more like JB in the sense of he’s kind of like a single guy, like he’s a tough guy in San Francisco. It was interesting to play someone who actually is a real person. I’d never done that before, so now people always want to take pictures of the two of us together, you know. And he’s thrilled because like I said, we’ve known each other for a long time. So it’s exciting for him to have somebody he knows actually portray him in the Film so it was good.
Q: Have you grown to love Cricket?
Aasif Mandvi: I actually grew up in England so I sort of played Cricket as a kid badly, like in the Street outside my house and in School and stuff. So I’m actually more familiar with Cricket than I am with Baseball I think.
Q: Talk about working with the guys on set.
Aasif Mandvi: With Madhur and Suraj? Yeah, they’re great. You know, cause I’m a lot older than them so they sort of became like little brothers to me, Suraj is like really sort of nice and easy going. And Mad was kind of a pain in the ass. So I had that very sort of familial relationship with the two of them. But they were great. I mean you know it was really fun to get to work with other Indian Actors, which is so rare. Usually like you’re the only South Asian Actor of a set of a Hollywood Movie or something, you know. But this was kind of nice to have– And then also, Pitobash who’s so great. He played Amit, the little guy. So he’s, he was so great. And it was all really, this was a great experience. Everyone was so great to work with you know, so yeah.
Q: What do you hope people take away when they’re watching the Movie?
Aasif Mandvi: It’s a very sort of American Dream kind of story and so I think that the idea of possibility. I was talking to Rinku about it, you know, the real Rinku, and I was saying like ‘do you feel like proud’ or you know what I mean? Or whatever, he was kind of like really sort of philosophical about it and he kind of was like, you know, I don’t, like cause it’s just what happened to me. ‘Like I just, you know, I went to this Audition and this thing happened and it — it is a story for the world but it is not really like– For me, it’s just my life, it’s just what happened and now what I’m really interested in, is being the best Baseball Player that I can be.’ You know, so he’s really focused on sort of just being a Baseball Player. This whole sort of inspirational story that happened is really kind of the stuff that Movies are made of.
Q: Now that the story is being told, how do you think it will impact those maybe in India, that gets a chance to see this story.
Aasif Mandvi: I don’t know how it’ll impact people in India. I mean, I think the stuff has an emotional element to it. There’s a sort of an Indian pride about it. But I don’t know how people will take to it. I know for example, when “Slumdog Millionaire” came out, a lot of people in India didn’t like the Movie, you know. They were sort of like, Oh this is India for Western people, you know. And sometimes there’s a kind of exoticization. An exoticism of India, you know what I mean, of like the poverty. But I think this Movie actually takes a really great sort of realistic approach to what it is, like everything in India that is sort of like, makes it harder than it really should be. So I think there’s interesting sort of observations about India that are very true in this Film. So I’ll be curious to see how it plays to the Masses over there, you know.
Remember the Million Dollar Arm movie is already out! Make sure to grab the family and watch this great TRUE STORY! Read my review and stay connected:
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