The Mindy Project‘s Danny Castellano (Chris Messina) and Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) aren’t like most couples you see on TV (or a streaming network). They’re complicated, passionate, and thoroughly modern; we see our own relationships and friends in them. So, needless to say, it’s why watching Mindy and Danny go their separate ways (for now) digs a little deeper.
It also leaves us with so many questions about their future: Will Danny realize what he has in Mindy before it’s too late? Can a guy at Danny’s stage in life ever really change? And if so, will Mindy be willing to accept him back? So, during the last week of filming season four, we caught up with Chris Messina for an exclusive interview about what to expect. “The show [has] always taken risks,” says the acclaimed actor. “And that risk-taking will be the case for as long as The Mindy Project exists.” We like the sound of that. Listen in.
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Glamour: Fans have been worried because you’re not in every episode this season, but the truth is that you’ve been off shooting a movie. What can you say to assure them that Danny is very much a part of this show now and in the future?
Chris Messina: Like it or not, the fans haven’t seen the last of Danny. There are some really funny and moving episodes ahead that I enjoyed filming. Danny will always be cemented in this show. I love playing him, and I trust that the writers will take his story line wherever they think best serves the show.
Glamour: Good! Fans never want to see the last of Danny. Now, season four started off with Mindy and Danny getting engaged and having baby Leo. Since then, they’ve broken up, Mindy moved out, and Leo splits time between both parents. Mindy said she wanted to show what would realistically happen between this couple and not the fairy-tale version. Were you sad, though?
Chris: I was excited because it meant Mindy and I would get to explore the difficult side of parenting and relationships. I’ve always appreciated that the show has never been afraid to quiet down and get honest.
Glamour: Do you think Danny’s perspective changed because of Leo? Or do you think Danny was always like this and he just got caught up in the romance of Mindy for a while, which hid some of his not-so-pleasant sides?
Chris: I don’t think Danny was hiding any of his behavior. I think having kids is scary. And I think perhaps he wasn’t as equipped as he thought he was. He’s always been stuck. Stuck in another time period. Stuck being a kid who was left by a parent. Stuck with the feeling of failure from a divorce. So much of his behavior comes out of the fact that he has a lot of shit to work out. The guy needs a good therapist.
Glamour: Ha! So true. So, what’s your opinion of Danny right now?
Chris: I love him and want him to find peace. Although playing a character that is in some sort of crisis is always more fun.
Glamour: Mindy recently said she sees Danny as sort of the Mr. Big character from Sex and the City. Don’t take offense to this, because I know you well enough to ask this, but did you ever watch Sex and the City?
Chris: That show was on when I lived in New York, and I was always doing theater at that time, which means I was never home. I don’t think you could record your TV then. If you could, I didn’t have it. If Mindy or Ike are reading this article, this will be a section of the interview they will use to make fun of my dinosaur qualities.
Glamour: [Laughs] Yeah, they will! OK, so Carrie and Big got together in the finale. Do you want to see the same happen for Mindy and Danny whenever The Mindy Project comes to an end? Or would you like to see multiple reconciliations between them?
Chris: Look, these two are crazy about each other. It would be nice to have them both, especially Danny, wake up and realize that love like that doesn’t always come around. One of the interesting parts of being on a television show is you often don’t know the fate of your character until you’re reading the script. I always look forward to finding out.
Glamour: You and Mindy have had some very dramatic scenes the last few months. How did you approach those scenes and did you spend more time rehearsing with Mindy?
Chris: You don’t get to rehearse much on TV. You are kind of rehearsing on film. Depending on the way you work, that’s either a good thing or a bad thing. With this show, I think the material is served best finding it as we go. It creates a spontaneity and sometimes you can catch lighting in a bottle. Watching the cast find a scene has always been my favorite part of this experience. I’ve learned so much from all of them. It’s been a master class in comedy.
Glamour: You’re filming the finale right now. What can you preview?
Chris: There are a few classic Mindy Project twists and turns in these last few episodes. I think people will really enjoy the finale. It’s tense and funny and things get a bit wild. Mindy is one of the smartest people I know. She will not disappoint her fans.
Glamour: Mindy recently said that in real life, she’s more like Danny than Mindy. Did you know that?
Chris: I see her more as all the characters: strong, smart, vulnerable, from another era, funny, loyal, loving, generous, and beautifully insane. She is like the Elaine May of this generation.
Glamour: [Laughs] I love it. So what’s the one thing you’ve learned from doing The Mindy Project that you feel has made you a more well-rounded actor?
An all-new episode of The Mindy Project is now streaming on Hulu. Stay tuned next week for exclusive behind-the-scenes video from the set.