While holding court during a panel discussion for The Mindy Project Tuesday at TV fan festival PaleyFest in Los Angeles, star, writer and producer Mindy Kaling got straight into discussing the most talked-about moment from the show’s winter finale: that kiss.
“You can’t script chemistry,” she said, explaining that the decision to turn Mindy Lahiri and fellow doctor Danny Castellano’s relationship romantic stemmed from her onscreen connection with costar Chris Messina. A season and a half of sexual tension culminated in an intensely passionate lip-lock, leading Messina to be quizzed on his character’s handsy-ness.
“That was improvised,” he said of Danny’s butt grab, adding that it was a reference to a scene that never aired in which Danny explains to a friend that the butt grab is his move.
Teasing what’s to come for the characters, who return to TV screens April 1 on FOX, Kaling offered an anecdote about how difficult it has been to arrange a set visit for her father.
“This is how sexy the show is,” she said. “My dad, he came to the set of The Office, he was on The Office, he’s not particularly conservative or anything but I wanted my dad to come to set and there hasn’t been a single shooting day where it seems appropriate.”
Elsewhere in the panel, Kaling addressed her growing fame, as well as being cast as a role model when a fan posited that “everybody does want to be your best friend.”
“There’s no greater compliment to me than when people say that to me,” responded the actress. “The only thing that maybe tops it is when young women come up to me and say that they look up to me or that they got confidence from some aspect of my career. It’s such a nice feeling and a feeling of responsibility.”
With all of the exposure that a network TV show, close to 3 million Twitter followers and a best-selling memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), has given her, Kaling described her current level of fame as “perfect.”
“For the most part, people just think they went to space camp with me. They’re like, ‘You were a nerd at my high school…'” she said, adding that she believes the attention paid to Messina and former Office costar John Krasinski is probably more difficult to contend with. “People attach feelings of love, romantic love to you. It’s a lot easier to have someone come up and say ‘I want to be your best friend’ than ‘I wanna lose my virginity to you.'”
Kiran Hefa is a New York City-based writer and editor who is as equally passionate about Sex and the City as she is about Star Wars. Her pop culture commentary can be found on Twitter @kiranhefa.