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Interview: Aasif Mandvi Talks Season One of ‘Evil’

August 4, 2020Ben MK

From The X-Files to Fringe, TV viewers have long been fascinated with shows that explore the existence of phenomena beyond the realm of normal human understanding. And now, in Evil, The Good Wife and The Good Fight creators Michelle and Robert King are adding to this tried and true prime time tradition, with their series that follows a Catholic priest-in-training named David (Luke Cage's Mike Colter), his blue-collar assistant Ben (A Series of Unfortunate Events' Aasif Mandvi) and forensic psychologist Kristen (Westworld's Katja Herbers), as the trio investigate cases with a potential supernatural element to them.

I caught up with Aasif Mandvi to chat about season one of Evil, to find out whether he's a skeptic or a believer in real life, and to learn about where the critically acclaimed show might be headed in season two.

Firstly, how have you been keeping busy during the pandemic and how have you been adjusting to the evolving new normal (such as the recent news that this year's Emmys will be completely virtual)?

Mandvi: I had a baby son during this pandemic. So my life has been very much about living with a four-month-old. Which is ironic, since America is also dealing with a four-month-old. But I'm dealing with my own four-month-old over here. [laughs] So we've been in a little bit of a bubble, which in some ways is a distraction from all the insanity in the world, but it also makes you feel incredibly vulnerable at times. He was born right when New York went into lockdown, so that's been my experience so far of the lockdown.

We've all been at home for so long now it'd be fun to get out there and dress up. I think everybody wants to have a big party at some point, but clearly we're not ready for that yet. And I think it's smart that they're doing a virtual Emmys. It's the reality of the world right now, and the most important thing is that we get to a place where we feel safe and the spike in numbers that have been happening here in the U.S. start to go down. I think that's the number one priority and so I'm all for the virtual Emmys. But I'm also chomping at the bit, like everyone else, to get out there and walk a red carpet or go to a party. It would be a huge turning point.

You took part in the Brave Warriors panel at Comic Con at Home recently. What was that experience like?

Mandvi: It was good. Last year we were at San Diego Comic Con in person and we had such a great time and it was so fun promoting the show and talking about it. And now that season one has come out, we were excited to talk about the show after people had actually seen it. So it was fun to do that, at least, even though we obviously couldn't have an in-person experience.

In Evil, you play a character named Ben who is basically the skeptic of this trio who investigate crimes to determine whether there's a scientific explanation behind them or whether something supernatural is involved. Are you more of a skeptic or a believer in real life?

Mandvi: In my own life, I think I probably do believe that there is more out there than we know or understand. I play a character on the show who's a true empiricist and a person who really only believes in what he can taste, touch and smell — what is quantifiable and what is measurable. I think there's a little bit more of a spiritual sense to it than that, in that I certainly do believe that there is more out there than we understand.

Were there any episodes or scenes that were especially memorable for you to film, personally?

Mandvi: We had a great time doing the show because when you're doing a show like this and the subject matter can get kind of dark and scary sometimes, we can goof around a lot off-screen. But I had one moment where I was walking into the makeup trailer and the actor who was playing George the demon — who's a wonderful guy — was just standing there in full demon makeup. I had never seen the demon before and there was nobody else in the makeup trailer except him because everyone was off doing something else. And it was kind of horrifying. He's really a nice guy, but it was a moment of just like, "Oh my God." It was pretty terrifying to realize up-close how real he looked.

Now that Evil has been renewed for a second season, what can we expect for your character in season two?

Mandvi: I'm excited about our second season. I've only read the first episode and I know that it does go to places that the audience won't necessarily expect us to go. I think we'll learn a lot more about Ben's character, his background and his family, and why and how he ended up working for David. So I'm excited to get into all of that, in terms of his backstory.

Of course, a lot of film and TV production is on hold at the moment, but what are you working on next or what else do you have coming up on the horizon?

Mandvi: We're obviously really excited about season two of Evil. We can't wait to get back into production. We haven't started yet, but hopefully we'll get back soon. And then I have some writing projects that I've been working on. I have an animated feature called Blazing Samurai that will be coming out next year. Then there's another animated feature that I'm doing for Netflix. A lot of animated stuff right now. I'm also pitching an animated feature that I'm hoping to sell, based on the book The Night Diary, which is a beautiful story that takes place during the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan. It's a story of the Partition told through the eyes of a twelve-year-old girl, so I'm really excited, as a producer, about hopefully getting that made.

Last but not least, what are you looking forward to the most when the world eventually comes out of this pandemic?

Mandvi: I think just hugging people. [laughs] Just being able to see my friends. I think [that's] what we're all looking forward to. Just life returning to a level of normalcy again — being able to go to restaurants, being able to see friends. We just moved into a new apartment and we have this beautiful backyard where we were hoping to have barbecues and folks over. Just having people over and having a dinner party would be something.

Season one of Evil is available now on DVD.

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