'The Mindy Project' at Paleyfest: Danny's butt grab was improvised, says Chris Messina
There's plenty more excellent intel where that came from. Here are a few other things we learned from the panel, including whether Messina thinks Ike Barinholtz or Mindy Kaling is a better kisser (spoiler: he gives both props).
The Mindy-Danny relationship wasn't planned. Initially Mindy Kaling says she thought they would have more of a Liz Lemon/Jack Donaghy relationship, but "you can't script chemistry. You can't script the choice that Chris makes as Danny to touch my back every time we cross the street. The question became not if they would do it but when they would do it."
Tamara and Morgan might get together too. "We accelerate in, I think, a very pleasing way Morgan and Tamara's relationship in [an upcoming episode called] 'Think Like a Peter,'" says Ike Barinholtz. There's a moment where Danny catches Tamara and Morgan together -- but while Tamara is clothed, Morgan is almost totally naked. Quips Xosha Roquemore, "No shade to Morgan or Ray Ron, but Tamara's kind of into pale creeps."
We'll learn more about Betsy in the upcoming episodes. "We kind of find out that Zoe Jarman's character is obsessed with Danny, and you start finding out that she's madly in love with him, so much that she might kill [Mindy]," Barinholtz spills. "I don't think of it as [she's] crazy, I just think she has this point of view that she thinks everyone shares," Jarman says. "She doesn't think she's crazy, but isn't that how it works?"
Beverly is everyone's favorite character to write for. "I grew up in the South and I'm so repressed," says Beth Grant. " It is so freeing to say something weird and be strange. " Barinholtz says Anders Holm, who writes "Workaholics" with his comedy partners, would only pitch lines for Bev, and when James Franco filmed his episode he lit up when Grant was on screen.
Barinholtz does impressions of everyone. Anyone who saw last year's Paleyfest panel knows his Messina is pretty good, but he also does a great James Franco and a pretty good Ed Weeks and Adam Pally too.
Danny's humor comes from the fact that he's an old man. Says executive producer Matt Warburton, "It's a unique character. It's someone who's so appealing but the jokes come from him being lame [and] the disconnect in looking at this guy, going this is one of the most appealing actors of a generation, but he can sell these jokes. He's playing an 80-year-old man who's a World War II survivor." Adds Barinholtz, "He's able to take lines that if other people said them to [Mindy] you'd hate them, but he's so likable and so charming as a guy that he gets away with it."
Messina regrets telling the writers that he took dance as a kid. When he found out he'd have to do a dance for Mindy, he wasn't too happy. "I was extremely nervous and mad that I had told them that I danced, but then I thought it was a really original, fresh and very romantic thing to come up with." He originally wanted a closed set.
One more Messina tidbit: he wouldn't choose between Barinholtz or Kaling as the better kisser. "Ike has great soft lips, but Mindy's a fantastic kisser," he says. Jokes Kaling, "if you asked who's better at sex, then that'll be a different answer."
"The Mindy Project" returns Tuesday, April 1 for two episodes in a row, and Kaling calls the final eight episodes of the season the best of her career. "It really builds up like a roller coaster, and the finale, which I'm editing right now, is fantastic," she says.