- Sam McPherson is responsible for this interview.
Donovan, as portrayed by Kurup
Lostpedia: Do you watch Lost? If so, are you a die-hard fan or just a casual viewer? And do you have a favorite episode, character, etc?
I had not seen Lost before I was cast. It was during a period that I was only watching HBO episodics and it somehow slipped past me. I then of course heard of the phenomenon that was Lost but had missed the boat. Funnily enough though I was cast in two shows by NBC that were created as a response to Lost. Surface, of which I was in the Pilot and the next five episodes before being killed off (character was named Krishna Singh) and then Heroes where I did the pilot and two more episodes (Nirad). After I shot my Lost episode (which was the 3rd or 5th of the second half of last season) I watched the ones leading up to mine to get a context and got caught in the spell and lo and behold have not missed an episode since. Another little coincidence is that Greg Grunberg (from Heroes and Alias) and I were in a sitcom pilot that never saw the light of day about 11 years ago called Veronica's Video. He was a would be agent from the San Fernando valley and I was an employee at the eponymous video store. It was the same year that Veronica's Closet came out so maybe there's some FCC rule that the name Veronica can only be used once in primetime. A further coincidence is that Sonya Walger (Penny Widmore) was on a show for a season called Sleeper Cell and I did an episode of it entitled "Businessman" after her character had been killed off. I too was killed off in my episode. Earlier that summer we had both been at the Ojai Playwrights Festival and were performing in different plays. When we were at Ojai I didn't know she was on Sleeper Cell nor had I been cast on it yet. Then we both ended up on the same Lost episode but not on the island at the same time. Like ships in the night we are. I'm off to the Oaji Festival again this year. Maybe she'll be there again. Maybe we can be in different plays together again.
Lostpedia: There's always an interesting story behind how the actors on the show get their roles. What's yours?
Not so interesting. I just auditioned and got the part. I had done an episode of Alias so was somewhere on the radar with the Executive Producers but if you're looking for the Lost-like synchronicities see the above answer.
Lostpedia: Are there any interesting stories from your time on set?
I suppose an interesting thing was that we were in Oahu in blistering heat wearing full London-in-the-winter gear since the scenes were in a University and in a pub later that day. Sweat was veritably shooting out of us. If you look closely you'll see us struggle with "shine" as they call it in the biz. "Shine?" Try "flood."
Another thing that might be of interest was that I wanted to do a Scottish accent rather than a British one given that that is something you never see on Television coming from someone who looks like me and given that I have family who live in Scotland who have all manner of brogue. Didn't have a chance to talk to the director before my trip (casting, flying in, shooting and flying out all happen very quickly) and so I took the chance and rehearsed the lines with the accent. My thinking being that Donovan (my character) and Desmond might have become friends due to the fact that they shared the same cultural background and references in the vast melting pot that is London. The director wanted to keep the accents separate and so I ended up doing it British but in the last line if you listen on the phrase "marry her" it's clearly a brogue, sort of slipped out, which my little cousin from Glasgow caught when he saw the episode and was pleased to hear the sound come out of a South Asian character on television which I think serves to legitimize kids like him who don't necessarily "look" Scottish but who've been born and raised there and certainly sound like natives because in fact they are.
Lostpedia: Did you have any more lines that were filmed but cut, it's always fun to find out what didn't make it past production?
Yes. There was more playfulness from my character at taking the piss out of Desmond who is his best friend. I think it was snipped out for time and maybe to maintain the mood of the highly charged, emotional, romantic yearning of the episode. I can't remember them but it had to do with the "quantum physicist" taking the piss out of his friend despite the fact that he might be inclined to be intrigued by the things Desmond was saying. So there were more references to Donovan's own expertise as a physicist in order to set up a few jokes at Desmond's expense. They were right to trim it I think. I didn't think it really served particularly given the emotional arc of that episode.
Lostpedia: What acting have you done since Lost?
I did a small indie film and a commercial but for the most part a lot of last year was spent out of town going to Chicago to prepare for the premiere of a play I wrote called "Merchant on Venice" at the Silk Road Theatre Project and a lot of my work has been geared toward my theater company Cornerstone. Just finished acting in the premiere of a new play of ours by Julie Marie Myatt called "Someday." We are currently in a cycle of productions called the Justice Cycle. Our last cycle was the Faith Cycle. Cornerstone is a unique company in that it makes plays with and for communities where stories are gleaned from specific communities willing to share their stories with us which we fashion into plays and then cast people from that community along with the professionals of the company to make a piece of, I feel, singular, compelling theater. Check out the website to find out more.
Lostpedia: Thank you very much, Shishir. It was very informative.
Hope this is of some interest and/or help. Take care.