Abhi Sinha talks CHASING LIFE and what he hopes to see for Danny
In tonight’s all new episode of CHASING LIFE (9/8c on ABC Family), Dominic and April are forced to reveal some secrets after a really interesting trip to a psychic! The show has been firing on all cylinders and I find myself completely head over heels for it, a fact that I let Abhi Sinha (CHASING LIFE’S Danny) know when we spent some time chatting about the show late last week!
What a great show! I am kind of unhealthily addicted to it!
Thank you so much!
I’ve seen that same kind of visceral reaction – people are loving it. What reactions are you getting from me?
You know what, it almost is shocking now that we’re on TV and it’s aired to see such strong reaction like yours. When you do the pilot, and I was telling friends and family about the premise, they were like “that sounds like a bummer, I don’t know if I want to watch that” [laughs]. So it’s really nice to hear all of the support.
You’re right – on the page, it does have such a sad subject matter. It still manages to feel really light – not what I expected it to be when I heard about it.
I know! If you had to label it, you’d obviously have to say it was a drama, but it really isn’t. It has a really good mix of comedy and everything.
Talking about how I was drawn to it – what was it that drew you to the show? Because it could have just read as something so depressing, what made you think, okay, I like this, I’m in?
You know when I read the script, I had that initial reaction, like “oh, this is heavy, some pretty intesnse subject matter” but as I read my character more and more, and other characters, I saw that the producers, writers, showrunners really knew how to tell a good story. Knew how to make it more than just cancer and sadness and tears. They knew how to tell the full range of this girl’s life, which to me was very attractive.
You have the family side, you have the work side, the friends, and we see just how much this will impact her world! What will we start to see now as the show continues? What comes next?
I think my character is pretty oblivious to the intense issue that April’s going through. She’s got so much going on at work with her relationships already, and to have this wrinkle thrown in that involves her health, it’s so much to deal with. For Danny Gupta, he’s just there, making jokes, being competitive. He’s completely unaware that she’s going through this. As you watch the first three, four episodes that have aired, it took April so long to even tell a family member what she’s going through. It will be interesting to see how that information is relayed to her friends, her coworkers going forward.
I can imagine that the symptoms we’re starting to see are going to start impacting her daily life and her ability to keep this quiet. It is going to be interesting to see how a character like Danny would react – he’s been so competitive, funny –
yeah, you know, with Danny, he’s pretty intense and makes not the nicest of jokes. Over the next few episodes, it will be interesting to see how he evolves and that he does care, not just about himself, but April.
I also loved that the characters felt fleshed out from the get go – even if we have 5 minutes with a character, it feels like the time is used well. Is that in the writing, research that goes into it? What’s the process to approach Danny?
It’s definitely a lot of my own choice and my own history that I have to decide. A lot of it is discussion – when we did the pilot, I went to the writers and the producers and I said, I would prefer it if Danny and April had no romantic history, he’s not interested in her at all romantically. Then it’s very easy to see in that one scene – hey, why don’t you go date that guy, why don’t you date Dominic? That sets the basis of our relationship, that there’s nothing romantic there, at least for now!
I think too often we don’t see a platonic relationship like that. I like that he was able to say “go date that guy.” There is a friendship there.
And at times, the friendship gets a little dodgy trying to one up one another and making jokes, but at that end of the day, they do respect each other, and you can tell it’s the platonic respect like you said.
Talking with the writers, producers, do they have plans where this goes, what Danny will explore? Is it more on a script to script basis?
For the first season, Danny’s main job is to make people laugh [laughs]. I think the subject matter can get pretty heavy, and we have to kind of embrace the fact that he is the color-comic relief. And that’s totally okay. He’s not your stereotypical Indian character that you’re seeing on TV. I think that’s great. As we go further and further, it will be interesting to see a more emotional Danny that cares and isn’t masking his emotions with trying to be glib.
There is a bit of a mystery for the April’s dad side of world – is Danny involved in exploring that more?
Danny is pretty oblivious to the fact that April is going through what she is going through. He has no idea. For him, everything that April does, he not only watches, he attributes it to furthering her career. To Danny, everything she does has to do with the Boston Post because for Danny, everything HE does has to do with the Boston Post. He has no idea what she’s going through and the severity of it. For him, it’s not a big deal to infringe on her personal space and get that information [laughs] even though that’s probably not something you should do in real life [laughs]. For him, it’s like, oh what story are you trying to break, let me find out, let me beat you to the story.
You mention in passing that this isn’t like any stereotypical Indian character we have had in the past – for lack of the better term, he’s not there to “be diverse” – it feels like it should!
Definitely! I personally, so I am so proud of the writers, Joni and Susanna for writing a character who could be funny but didn’t have to be your stereotypical “ethnic” funny – which is very singy-songy-accented, fresh off the boat. It’s a testament to them for living in the modern day and age where everyone around is ethnic, but we’re all American [laughs].
I think ABC Family does this better than a lot of networks – completely embracing the “modern times” like you said. It’s how life is and how the real world is. That’s so important. It’s a message without needing to send a message.
Absolutely! It’s a subconscious pushing of the envelope [laughs].
Do you have favorite shows that you sit down and binge watch?
That’s literally all I do. I watch GAME OF THRONES, FARGO. HOUSE OF CARDS
Oh my god, FARGO was amazing.
FARGO was amazing, right? Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton are KILLING it! I also really nerd out – I turn on Nat Geo or The Science Channel. I watch COSMOS with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, I’ll watch THE UNIVERSE with Stephen Hawking.
I said this to someone the other day – it’s like, I’ll tell you the three things I don’t watch, because I watch everything else!
[laughs] Exactly! I pay for TV, Netflix, and Apple TV. I’ve got my whole range of networks covered!
I just got the Amazon Fire TV, too, so I’m double covered!
Oh that’s the next one I gotta get!
What else do you have coming that we can see besides CHASING LIFE?
Right now, currently airing ON Demand is a movie called AFTER THE DARK which I did a couple of hyears ago. It’s about this group of Philosophy students in a school in Indonesia. It’s their last day of class in high school, and they go on this crazy thought experiment which turns into this incredible expedition, so that’s airing On Demand right now, and I think was just released in theatres in Indonesia! I have this movie CYBER, a Michael Mann film that will be released in January 2015. That movie is about cyber warfare between the US and China. I play this guy, Lt Daniels, who is a computer forensics effort, basically aiding in this investigation. The last thing I want to do is give away something about a Michael Mann film.
Be sure to check out all new episodes of CHASING LIFE Tuesdays on ABC Family!