photo credit: Disney
Million Dollar Arm is now in theaters and I’m not even sure I need to tell you again how great it is! You can read my Million Dollar Arm review and see my three favorite things about the movie. You can take a look at my experience at the Hollywood premiere.
To get even more behind-the-scenes details from stars of the film, check out my interview with Jon Hamm and my interviews with Mitesh Madhur and Suraj Sharma. Then, read about the real-life inspirations behind the story of Million Dollar Arm. You can see it all in my interviews with JB Bernstein, Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel.
photo credit: Disney
Finally, I also had the privilege of interviewing Aasif Mandvi, who plays Ash in Million Dollar Arm. I sincerely enjoyed him in this movie, and I’ve been a longtime fan of his since he joined The Daily Show several years ago! He was just as charming and funny as I expected him to be.
My interview with Aasif Mandvi:
At one time you were a performer at Walt Disney World. Did you think you would get to [act in a Disney film] and what has that experience been like?
I was a street performer at the Disney/MGM Studios and now I was in a Disney movie, so it’s a very different experience. There’s less catering involved. You don’t get a trailer, catering, nothing. [Working at Disney World] was great! Disney, the MGM Studios, was my first job out of college so it was an amazing experience. It was really fun.
We sort of opened the MGM Studios back in 1989 and played street performing characters. It was a great place to learn comedy and improv. I hope this isn’t where I end but it’s where I started. It came full circle.
Did you start your career after working at MGM? Were you a stand-up comedian?
I was never really a stand up comedian. I did some stand-up because I thought maybe I’d like to be a comedian, but I ended up sort of doing more theater and I created a one-man show. Since ‘The Daily Show’ people want me to do stand up. They pay me to do stand up, so I put together a show.
But I don’t consider myself a standup the way Jon [Stewart] or somebody like that who is. I came more from a theater track.
What was your favorite scene to film and why.
It was really fun going to India and shooting because [I was] born there and I have family there, and I’ve visited India many times, but it’s a whole different experience when you go with an American film crew to India. You know, in an air-conditiioned car and stuff. But it was great.
It was an amazing experience to go to india. It was sort of like I got to visit family. I also got to see the Taj Majal, which I’ve always wanted to see but never had. It was kind of great.
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? What was it that made you want to do this film?
SI think [Ash] is funny but he’s also the grouncing character. He’s the one that is the counterpoint to Jon Hamm’s sort of playboy lothario character. I like that aspect of it.
It was also an interesting character to see: a south Asian sports agent, because I don’t know any. I’m sure there are some but it was sort of an interesting character to play somebody I never played before.
Then I got to work with Jon Hamm every day who is dreamy!
What was it like working with the babies?
…the kids would just cry. They would just cry! And the director [Craig Gillespie] was like, just let him cry because we couldn’t stop them from crying. So we just used it. Craig’s theory was like every time we see Ash and his children, his children are just screaming. That’s just the reality of his life.
On the porch scene:
On the porch, the kids were crying again and I’m supposed to holding them, and the one 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.’
So I said to Craig, ‘Listen, I can’t do this anymore.’ This kid is 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.’
They roll Action, I grab this kid, it’s like pulling cheese off a pizza…I’m 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.
It’s in the movie. And you can see it! So like it’s totally real. You see me going from a character in a movie to being an actor. I take the kid, I’m holding him out like an Actor who’s suddenly been puked on and the kid is just puking. There’s puke everywhere. It’s all in my clothes, in my hair. But we got the shot.
Are you working on any new projects right now?
I’m doing an HBO series called ‘The Brink’ with Jack Black and Tim Robbins. That’s going to come out next year. It’s a comedy about the end of the world. The world is on the brink of armageddon. It’s a geopolitical comedy. It’s seen through the eyes of three departments of
The stuff I’ve done on The Daily Show for years is sort of in that vein; satirical political stuff. This is keeping with that but it’s from a narrative standpoint.
I have a book coming out a t the end of the year, so you guys can all blog about that.
The book is called ‘No Man’s Land’ and it’s basically stories of my life from growing up as a kid in England to being a high school student in Florida, then coming to New York and my career. It’s sort of humorous essays that are kind of “Sedaris-esque.” That’s coming out in November.
Tell us about working with the guys on the set.
With Madhur and Suraj? They’re great. I’m a lot older than them so they sort of became like little brothers to me. Suraj is really sort of nice and easygoing. and Mad was kind of a pain. So I had that sort of familial relationship with the two of them.
It was really fun to get to work with other Indian actors, which is rare. Usually you’re the only South Asian actor of a set of a Hollywood movie, but this was kind of nice.
Pitobash is so great. He played Amit, the little guy. This was a great experience.
Disney’s Million Dollar Arm is showing in theaters everywhere. Find it in a theater near you and buy your tickets today!
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Disclosure: Travel and expenses were provided by Disney to participate in this press trip. All opinions are my own, and all experiences were real.