Interview by Carol Wright | Photography: DJ Zayas
We got to chat with actress Sunita Deshpande about her role in the new HBO Max film Moonshot, her improv training, and of course Daredevil, which can now be watched in its entirety on Disney+.
Growing up did you always see yourself pursuing a creative career?
Yes, I really did. I knew it would be something creative. I had really wanted to be an inventor at one point I remember. I remember knowing I wouldn’t be happy if I couldn’t be a little weird every day. I’ve been called ‘eccentric’ a few times in my life and I take it as a compliment. “Eccentric” folks always turn out to be rich and kind-hearted, misunderstood, creative geniuses that live on the outskirts of town with ridiculously cute pets. Ultimately creativity is about solving puzzles in the best way you can. And I am all about that.
Tell our readers about Moonshot. What can they expect from the film?
You can expect a warm-hearted, sweet sci-fi rom-com written by the great Max Taxe (pronounced ‘taxi’) that is all about following your heart across the stars for true love. It’s funny, warm, sentimental, and about Mars. Plus, there is a cat in it. I am eccentric, after all. And us eccentrics love cats.
Can you relate to your character Celeste in any way?
Celeste believes in meritocracy – and as a kid of immigrants, I (used to) believe in it. I really thought it was all about how hard you work in life. But it’s not. There are so many other factors at play. Luck. Timing. Connections. Nepotism. It’s a lot like acting. So many things are out of our control. The rest of her – the passive-aggressiveness, I try not to be like in real life. I do believe she tries to put her intellect above her emotions and I have been guilty of that. But ultimately: Direct communication is my favorite love language.
You have a background in improv and stand-up. Do you hope to incorporate that into your work more often in the future?
There’s nothing like playing off the moment. Most of my training is improv (way too many years at UCB as an intern and a student) as well as teaching improv. I believe I am still up on NYC Improv Teachers (it’s a website). I love the sport of it. It’s my favorite sport in the world. Really, improv is a great life teacher. It’s a guru. It teaches you to be like water. To just go with it. Not question, just react. Yes And is our mantra. I hope to incorporate it into more of the work I do, like my short play A Sari For Pallavi which got into the Samuel French OOB Contest and I made into a short film and got into 50+ film festivals and won at the Oscars-Qualifying Rhode Island Film Festival for best comedy short. Spontaneity is your friend.
Daredevil has received a second life after Charlie Cox had his cameo in Spider-Man: No Way Home and the show got moved to Disney+. Has it been exciting to see new fans of the show emerging?
Absolutely! The other day I was at Sephora and a few very young lovely NYU ladies approached me. They were South Asian biotech and engineering students and were like, “Are you…Seema?” They went on to thank me for representing South Asians in film and TV. I told them I am so proud of them for being the future. This is a rough game (acting), but those moments really make it worth all the while. Yesterday a DD fan reached out to me and told me they were 250+ days sober! I congratulated them and told them to ping me when they make it to 365. I’ll tell you one thing – our fans are not stupid. They are the opposite of stupid. They are caring, kind, intelligent, and want to make the world a better place. The hashtag #SaveDaredevil is mostly women! GET IT!
What advice do you have for aspiring actors?
Run your own race. Always. Especially if you come from Asian/Indian parenting of any kind. This isn’t a competition to see what the other Asian/Indian kids are doing. You have value in YOU. Your soul is something that can’t get straight A’s. You are worth so much more than your grades. You can be intelligent outside of academics. (Ever wonder why we get graded on academics and not on things like social or emotional intelligence?) Every type of intelligence in this world is valuable – sports intelligence, musical intelligence, math/science/spatial intelligence – you don’t have to shame yourself for what you are not. Use the gifts you have been given. You were given them for a reason. To make this world a better place. Use your anger to fuel you like a rocket, don’t turn it toward you (then you get incinerated.) The minute you don’t run your own race, the minute you look at the “other guy” next to you, is the moment you trip on your own damn heels. So: RUN. YOUR. OWN. RACE. and make friends with failure. It will always be your best teacher.