We were invited to a private interview with Aasif Mandvi and some of the cast from Disney's Million Dollar Arm! I was invited as media to attend this all expense paid trip in exchange for my coverage. All opinions are my own.
If you've been following my Disney adventures, you've seen some of my recent interviews with some of the cast for Million Dollar Arm. I've interviewed Jon Hamm and also attended the world premiere event for Million Dollar Arm (AMAZING). You've already seen the amazing footage of the world premiere for Million Dollar Arm, but now it's time to dig deeper and learn more about the movie from behind the scenes.
Our recent interview with Aasif Mandvi will leave you laughing out loud with what it was like to play the character of Ash Vasudevan, JB Bernstein's friend and business partner, on Disney's Million Dollar Arm. We also interviewed the REAL JB Bernstein, Rinku, and Dinesh! The story truly is amazing — the motivation to keep relentlessly following your dreams, and the humility knowing that the most amazing people in this world don't have to be the most powerful and most outspoken. A definite must-see!
QUESTION: What was your favorite scene in Million Dollar Arm?
Aasif Mandvi: “It was really actually fun going to India and shooting because, you know, having been born there and having family there I’ve 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, to be in the bubble of a big Hollywood Production. You don’t have to deal with any riff raff [he laughs] going around in an air conditioned car and stuff. But it was great! It was just like an amazing experience to go to India and 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.”
QUESTION: What really went on behind the scenes working with the twins?
Aasif Mandvi: “Oh the Twins! Well, they had two sets of twins. So it wasn’t the same (set of twins), but you can’t tell because they’re Indian and probably look alike. [LAUGHTER] But if you watch closely, you’ll 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.”
As he continued to answer regarding the twins, he told us about the porch scene! SO FUNNY!…
“So we’ve got two sets of Indian parents who have these two sets of twins and they’re, poor things, sort of hiding off in the corner. The kids would just cry. And the (porch) 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 could stop them from crying. So Craig’s theory was like every time we see Aash 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, finally 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 finally I said to Craig, ‘Listen, I can’t do this anymore. This kid has snot coming out of him and he’s crying. He’s just a mess, you know.’ And Craig was like, ‘Listen we have 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.
So I grab this kid. He’s holding on to me, the hair, everything, 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 pukes. And it’s just all over my clothes. And twice, he did it twice! It’s in the Movie. You can see it. So it’s totally real.
I take the kid, I’m holding him out here like — 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. But we got the shot.”
QUESTION: What attracted you to want to do this film?
Aasif Mandvi: “I think he’s funny but he’s also the — he’s also the grounding character, you know. He’s the one that is sort of is the counter point to Jon Hamm’s sort of Playboy Lothario character. I like that aspect of it, you know. I also feel like it was an interesting character to see – 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’ve never played before so I felt that was kind of fun.
And then I got to work with Jon Hamm every day who is dreamy so… [LAUGHTER] so you know, I got do that.”
QUESTION: What was it like playing a real character and having to portray that?
Aasif Mandvi: “Well I know Aash. I met him before I did this movie. We have mutual friends and stuff. First, he’s not married. He doesn’t have kids. 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 a single guy, you know. 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. It was good.”
QUESTION: What was it like working with Madhur and Suraj (who played Dinesh and Rinku) on set?
Aasif Mandvi: “They’re great. I mean, because 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 Madhur 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. 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, but this was kind of nice to have.
And then also, Pitobash who’s so great. He played Amit, the little guy. So 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.”
QUESTION: What do you hope people take away when they’re watching this movie?
Aasif Mandvi: “What I hope people will take the most… I think this is a story about, you know, it’s sort of a very American story. It’s a very sort of American dream story and so I think that the idea of possibility – the idea that anything is possible. I was talking to Rinku about it – you know, the real Rinku – and I was saying “do you feel like proud” or whatever, he was kind of like really sort of philosophical about it. He was like, ‘you know, I don’t cause it’s just — it’s just what happened to me. Like I just, I went to this audition and this thing happened and it is a story for the world but it is not really 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.’ So like he’s really focused on sort of just being a baseball player. This whole sort of like inspirational story that happened is really kind of the stuff that movies are made of.”
“The Brink” with Jack Black and Tim Robbins, an HBO series due to be out next year (2015).
A new book due to be released at the end of this year (2014) called No Land’s Man.
Tidbits of what we learned about Aasif Mandvi:
“I was a Street Performer at the Disney/MGM Studios, so Million Dollar Arm was a very, very different experience. There’s less catering involved. You don’t get a trailer, you know, make up and hair, nothing. No, it was great. MGM Studios was my first job out of college so it was kind of an amazing experience. It was my first acting job – professional acting job – you know, and it was really fun.”
Million Dollar Arm hit theaters on May 16, 2014! A definite must-see for the whole family!
About Million Dollar Arm:
Based on a true story, sports agent JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) finds that business has changed and things aren’t going well for his career. In a last ditch effort to save his livelihood he concocts a scheme to find baseball’s next great pitching ace. Hoping to find a young cricket pitcher he can turn into a major league baseball star, JB travels to India to produce a reality show competition called “The Million Dollar Arm.” With the help of cantankerous but eagle-eyed retired baseball scout Ray Poitevint (Alan Arkin), he discovers Dinesh (played by Madhur Mittal from “Slumdog Millionaire”) and Rinku (played by Suraj Sharma from “Life of Pi”), two 18-year-old boys who have no idea about playing baseball, yet have a knack for throwing a fastball. Hoping to sign them to major league contracts and make a quick buck, JB brings the boys home to America to train. While the Americans are definitely out of their element in India, the boys, who have never left their rural villages, are equally challenged when they come to the States. As the boys learn the finer points of baseball, JB, with the help of his charming friend Brenda (Lake Bell), learns valuable life lessons about teamwork, commitment and what it means to be a family.
Check out this clip of Aasif Mandvi from the Million Dollar Arm:
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*Photos courtesy of Disney and Louise Bishop of Mom Start.