Mindy Kaling’s alter ego, the romcom-obsessed ob-gyn Mindy Lahiri on her Fox comedy “The Mindy Project,” is a girl’s girl with a messy love life. Cue the wacky boyfriends.
And following in the dead-man-walking footsteps of Seth Rogen, who guest-starred as one of Mindy’s doomed boyfriends last year, three more stars recently took on the challenge: James Franco, as the deliciously-named former model, Dr. Leotard; Timothy Olyphant as a himbo-skateboarder; and Bill Hader as an ex who made a sex tape with Mindy.
So what did each bring to the part? “James was so light on his feet and peculiar, Tim was super-committed to playing this ethereal skater man-boy that was hilarious, and Bill mastered the art of playing an orthodontist whose entire life is falling apart but pretends it’s going great,” says Kaling.
“James is so loose-limbed and mysterious, I have no idea what his process is, but the outcome is so enjoyable. Tim was as intense and serene as my character was antsy and impatient. He’s so good at calibrating his energy with his scene partner, and crazy good at physical comedy. Bill is a virtuoso. I have never met a funnier human.”
She adds, “Making Franco laugh or break was a joy, and it happened once when Xosha Roquemore’s character, Tamra, told me ‘to go away little boy’ because she thought I was a neighborhood kid panhandler because of my short hair.”
As for Olyphant, he was “actually really excellent at the skateboard, which is infuriating because he’s also an amazing swimmer. He barely needed our stunt double.”
And when Lahiri confronts Hader’s character about their sex tape, wreaking havoc at his work place, “and he tries to shush me because he’s dating a new girl, I don’t think we ever did a take where he didn’t make me laugh,” adds Kaling. “Bill’s also an amazing improviser, which was so fun to act with.”