Yeah, Sendhil Ramamurthy got me thinking a bit of Hollywood, casting mythical/historical people, deifying whiteness, and reifying and promoting it through sexual objects of desires (as some celebrities are positioned to be). The best crushes stroke the cerebral clit like that…at least for me.
This post, as a companion to my other piece, will (hopefully) be a bit more crushy, such as stating things like Ramamurthy was born in Chicago and reared in Texas. (Down-South Midwest kids stand up!) He decided to not to get into the family profession of being an MD in favor of acting…and almost gave that up for business school. From an Onion interview back in 2007:
The A.V. Club: How did your parents feel about you being an actor as opposed to following in the family footsteps?
Sendhil Ramamurthy: They were less than thrilled at first. [Laughs.] I was pre-med, so I was going to go into the family business more or less. But I came to my senses, luckily, and backed out, and decided to go to drama school. Now they’re happy that I’m playing a doctor on TV at least. And once they kind of got their head around the whole thing, they were really supportive. They paid for drama school, and when I was with the Royal Shakespeare Company they flew out to England to see all of my plays. Of course, now that I’m on TV, they don’t understand what the hell Heroes is all about. Every Tuesday after the show airs I have to have the Tuesday morning conversation and explain to them what happened the night before.
AVC: One thing they should be happy about is you’ve helped break stereotypes for Indian actors on TV. Do you think there’s still an ingrained racism in the way Hollywood writes and casts for Indian actors?
SR: I think so. There isn’t any question about that. I’ve managed to luck out that they’ve given me a fully rounded character on the show, but in general, yeah. And you know, now more than ever I get everything “Indian” that’s ever written. It all comes across my desk. Since Heroes started I’ve probably had about 15 or 16 film scripts sent to me with Indian characters, and out of those maybe one was good. And the depressing thing is, they’re all being written by Indians! Like, how many more scripts can there be about an arranged marriage or an abusive husband? It’s the same thing over and over again. I think that Indian writers think this is the kind of thing that people want to see, and it’s kind of sad. I literally fling those scripts across the room as soon as I start reading them. [Laughs.]
AVC: You’ve said that you refuse to even audition for those kinds of roles. If Heroeshadn’t come along, where do you think you’d be right now?
SR: Literally, I had bought my GMAT book, and I was going to take the GMAT and go to business school. I was ready to chuck it all in. I couldn’t do those parts. I would just rather do something else. And then this thing fell into my lap. It was bizarre. I was unemployed, and I had just had a baby, and I needed to do something. I thought, “Well, I’ve given it more or less a good crack, and at least I had the chance to do some really great theater.” Film and TV-wise, it just wasn’t happening. I did some guest spots, and I did a series in England and stuff like that, but nothing that I was overwhelmingly proud of, or that had given me a lot of notoriety, or that even stretched me as an actor. Heroes came along and everything changed after that. Now I’m getting a lot of scripts that have nothing to do with being Indian, and I think that’s amazing. I’m really happy about that.
AVC: Is there anything you’ve signed to?
SR: Nothing I can talk about. There’s something in the works that I hope can work out, but it’s tough with the shooting schedule because we shoot for nine months of the year. So I have to find something that I love—and if it’s “Indian” it has to be something I can do morally, something I will allow myself to do—and the scheduling has to work out to those three months. This thing I’m hoping will work out now, it’s not an Indian movie. The character’s name is “Miles.” I really, really, really want to do it, but so far the dates don’t work. We’ll see.
After NBC unceremoniously dumped…errrmm, wrapped up Heroes (and with good reasons), Ramamurthy joined the cast of Covert Affairs, where he plays operative Jai Wilcox and does great fan service, like this:
P.S. Thanks to amberguessa for catching my mistake on Ramamurthy’s birthplace. However, you can also feel free to email me that correction, too. Thanks!