The brainchild of creator/writer/executive producer Mindy Kaling, who stars as the show's unlucky-in-love OB/GYN title character, the show also stars Chris Messina as her roiugh-around-the-edges coworker Danny Castellano; Ed Weeks as another colleague, Jeremy Reed, who Mindy can't seem to resist; Anna Camp as Mindy's best friend, Gwen; and Ike Barinholtz (also a writer on the show) as the office nurse, Morgan, who just so happens to be an ex-con and an ex-stripper. Stephen Tobolowsky also stars as the boss trying to keep the practice running while staying out of the drama.
I caught up with the cast to find out more about their characters, what's coming next (a "Toddlers & Tiaras"-themed episode?) and dream guest stars, including Daniel Day Lewis and Pierce Brosnan. Seriously. Read on for more.
The Show's Inspiration
Mindy Kaling: "My mom passed away at the end of January, but she loved it when I was telling her about it, and no one would've liked the show more than her. Not to be weird, but I still have an ongoing relationship with my mom, even though she passed away, and I've been surprised at how much I've been able to convey to her. Now I sound like a total weirdo, but that's true. I think if you ask anybody who's lost a parent kind of too early they feel like their relationship with them continues ... especially with the show, which was inspired by her life as an OB/GYN."
Getting To Know You
Chris Messina: "Danny's fun because he's so honest. He's brutally honest sometimes, and sometimes it comes across as kind of mean, but I really like playing him."
Ed Weeks: "You love to love to hate to love to love to hate to be ambiguous about him. It's a gift of a part, obviously, this cad with witty asides, and he's very tart and acidic."
Anna Camp: "She used to be a total party girl, and had this whole plan to hang out with Mindy and party and be funny single girls together. Then she met this guy at a bar and, fast-forward, got married and had a baby. "
Ike Barinholtz: "He's an ex-con, but it was so long ago. He was a kid ... he stole some cars. He was a troubled youth. [Laughs.] He may have gotten a tattoo on his torso that says 'No More Stealing Cars' just to remind himself. But he's a really nice guy. When you first meet him, you think, 'Aw, this poor soul was bucked by a mule as a child.' He's great at his job -- he's a good nurse. This show should really be called 'Hotties.' Or 'Hot Guys.' I'm trying to get Mindy out of the show and just focus on me and Ed and Chris."
Ed Weeks: "We're two sides of an unsuitable male coin. Chris Messina is amazing, and he's so serious -- he's like a proper actor! He's got craft! I love to watch him. But not in a creepy way."
Ike Barinholtz: "He has a fun relationship with Ed's character, because he just sort of looks at me like, 'You're a moron. You're an American dummy.' And I look at him like he's James Bond. And me and Zoe Jarman's character ... we just think the two of us making love would be a really weird combination because she's so small and I'm this giant weird man."
Ike Barinholtz: "In Episode 3, it's all about Danny and Mindy, and will he or will he not be her gynecologist. It's like Sam and Diane, if, at the end of the episode, Sam might look at Diane's vagina. And Diane's probably had a couple of drinks. She's saying something witty ... and he's going to examine her body."
Anna Camp: ""I'm a huge fan of 'Toddlers & Tiaras' in real life, so I'd love to see Gwen become a crazy pageant mom. We could hire Alana and her go-go juice to be my daughter's rival ... but her quote might be too high now."
Ed Weeks: "We all chatted about our pasts with the writers, and I told them a story about how I was sent to boarding school at the age of seven. We lived in Germany, my father was in the Army, and they figured I would have more consistency at boarding school. That kind of gives you a thick skin. All those clichés are true -- it made me funny, and that was sort of my defense. But it also makes it harder to trust people, harder to commit. Then I found in Episode 2, they have this whole line that Jeremy says about being sent to boarding school and how that led to this life-long inability to commit, and I was like, 'That's my life!' It makes total sense that somebody like that -- not that I would know what a person like this is like -- but an oversexed cad might have some issues stemming from childhood."
Behind The Scenes
Mindy Kaling: "The good news about when you have to be writing and executive producing and all that behind the scenes stuff, you're so busy that you can't even feel that much anxiety about acting. If I did have time to think about it too much, I'd really start freaking out. It's an amazing dream come true."
Chris Messina: "It freaks me out to be doing comedy. Totally. I had to be really convinced to be a part of this, only because of the idea of network television, and then it being a network comedy -- I kept saying to them, 'Really? Are you sure? Why me?' [Laughs.] And Mindy's so cool and so funny and smart that I just trusted that she knew what she wanted, and I guess she saw something in me. It has a truth to it, and that I feel comfortable in. I've been watching a lot of 'Taxi' ... just watching Judd Hirsch. He was so real and hysterically funny, but he was flawed. The comedy always came out of the truth, so that's what I hope I can try to do."
Dream Guest Stars
Mindy Kaling: "My inclination, of course, is to always pull as many of my old friends into things -- and some of 'The Office' cast would be so great on this show -- but the problem is if I do it too much in the beginning, it'll confuse people. It'll remind them that I'm Kelly Kapoor. I didn't even put Ed Helms in the pilot until like 19 minutes into it, almost at the end ... I thought if you saw him too early, you'd be reminded of Kelly.
But my favorite thing with this show is to take people like Bill Hader and Ed Helms, who largely play hilarious weirdos, and say, 'We want you to play a good-looking, dateable New York City guy.' Bill is hilarious as Stefon, really good at playing Vincent Price, really good as Vinny Vedecci. He's a virtuosic comedy actor. But he's also a handsome leading man. I think he has the potential to be the next Tom Hanks. And Ed Helms also plays huge weirdos. I'm guilty of writing him as a weirdo on 'The Office' because he's so good at it, so having him play a handsome finance guy is really fun to see. And I feel like I get credit for showing that side of them, so that's been fun. I'd like to do that with other comedy actors -- I really want to work with Danny McBride."
Anna Camp: "We'll see who they cast as my husband -- I can't wait! Anybody would be great ... I would be a good wife to say my own husband [Michael Mosley], who is also an actor, but I think they're going for someone a little older. Daniel Day Lewis ... because he does a lot of half-hour comedies. [Laughs.] We just know Mindy really doesn't like my husband at all. She calls him The Pedophile."
Ed Weeks: "I want Pierce Brosnan to play my dad. If your dad comes in and tries to steal the girls you're chatting up ... and he's f---ing James Bond. Can you imagine?"
A Whole New Experience
Mindy Kaling: "I'm so used to being the underdog -- 'The Office' was the lowest testing pilot of all NBC, midseason replacement, so whenever we did good, it was like, 'Hey, I guess they're not as horrible as we thought!' And we just kept pushing that and pushing that. I love that people are loving this already. I'm just not used to hitting the ground running like this. Our timeslot is, I think, one of the juiciest timeslots you can have. And to be on Fox is really exciting, because it's a network that's doing really well. [Laughs.] The whole thing ... it doesn't feel natural to me."
"The Mindy Project" premieres Tues., Sept. 25, 9:30 p.m. ET on Fox.