Mindy Kaling says playing her character in Ocean’s 8 challenged her in a way she hadn’t expected
We like to imagine that being a movie star is all fun and games, all the time. You show up to set, get your hair and makeup done, and get to pretend to be somebody else for the day. But obviously, we know there’s much more work to being an actor than that. Sometimes, it takes days, weeks, and even months to fully become a character — which is something that Mindy Kaling quickly learned on the set of Ocean’s 8.
In the film, Kaling plays Amita, a jewelry maker who turns a $150 million Cartier diamond necklace into seven smaller pieces in the name of a heist. And it turns out, the role was harder than she expected it to be. Not because of the jewelry making or expert-level conning, but because it required her to learn another language.
“This is actually one of the more challenging roles [I’ve had], which I didn’t anticipate,” Kaling told the crowd during the Ocean’s 8 press conference in New York City on Tuesday, May 22nd. “I had this idea that the Ocean’s movies were just a breezy hangout where George Clooney plays pranks on everyone. And this was very challenging for me, because I had to learn Hindi for a scene I had. None of you guys were in the scene, but I had to have a fight with my mother in Hindi.”
But Kaling didn’t just memorize a few Hindi phrases and call it a day.
She really put in the time to give the best performance possible.
"I had to meet a coach, and I had to be coached in Hindi. I think everyone maybe thinks that because I'm Indian, I've been raised speaking an Indian language, but I wasn't. So that part was challenging."
Upon hearing that, Kaling’s Ocean’s 8 co-star Cate Blanchett spoke up, offering herself up for any future tutoring sessions. “You should have told me,” Blanchett joked. “I’m fluent.”
Even though Kaling knew Blanchett was joking, she responded by saying what pretty much everyone was thinking: “Of course Cate is fluent in Hindi.” Hey, you never know.
The challenge of learning Hindi aside, Kaling also said that she very much enjoyed playing Amita.
"It's fun, because I always play delusionally overconfident characters. And so [Amita] was just like, 'I get to be involved?!' It was very nice to play someone who is more shy and gets to come out of her shell. No one has ever accused me of being shy before."
Let’s see: Kelly Kapoor, Mindy Lahiri, the physical embodiment of the emotion Disgust…yeah, Kaling tends to play characters who wear their hearts on their sleeves. We’re glad she enjoyed doing a little something different in Ocean’s 8.
Ocean’s 8 hits theaters on June 8th.