VOD Spotlight on Manish Dayal of Rubicon (AMC)September 28, 2010

VOD Spotlight on Manish Dayal of Rubicon (AMC)

Manish Dayal

On Demand Weekly's VOD Spotlight highlights stories in the On Demand industry. Adam Schartoff interviews actor Manish Dayal from the exciting new series"Rubicon" on AMC. Adam spoke to Manish about getting started, the impact of Video On Demand (VOD) on TV and "Rubicon." 
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On Demand Weekly: Is “Rubicon” your first series?
Manish Dayal: In a recurring role, yes.

ODW: How many episodes have you appeared in?
MD: I have been in 3.

ODW: Will you be in further episodes?
MD: Yes. I’m in Season 2. PI hope that we get picked up. I think we will. I think we have a good shot. The show’s been doing really well. I haven’t seen anything recently but the last few episodes have been real exciting. It’s the first time I’ve been in a tv show where I can’t wait until the next week.

ODW: It’s a fun show. The writing is really good. It’s taught. Does it follow or preceded "Mad Men"?

MD: It precedes "Mad Men."

ODW: So, they’re riding your coat tails, I guess you could say.
MD: That’s right. We’re their lead in.

Manish Dayal
Manish Dayal / Rubicon (AMC)

ODW: Listen, don’t discount the possibility. It’s a good show. There’s a real audience for it. I mean, I’m remembering the “X Files” which was this incredible thing. And the office environment is obviously reminiscent of “24.” But it also has a very original kind of vibe that I haven’t really seen before.
MD: Yeah, it’s very dark and cinematic. It’s got this very slow, very steady pace… it’s very suspenseful. I think a lot of new shows, especially the ones on premium cable channels, they move very slowly but, in my opinion, they make very entertaining tv. Extremely gripping.

ODW: You’re coming into this medium in a golden age. Like in the 1950’s and the early 1960’s, it’s back to that level of writing. Today, perhaps due to cable channels, you have high concept shows that a number of years ago would not have made it to the light of day. There are those who would argue that the best writing today is no longer in movies, but on television.

MD: Definitely.

ODW: And it’s raised the bar for movies.
MD: I know. I see some television that is more entertaining than movies.

ODW: When I was a kid movie actors would never stoop to do television. And if you were a television actor, you couldn’t get movie roles. With very few exceptions. And most of them were in silly comedies. They weren’t considered respected actors.

MD: In "Rubicon," we’ve got some great actors like Miranda Richardson and Dallas Roberts; very respected actors.


Manish dayal


ODW: And Manish Dayal, as well.
MD: Number 5, I guess.

ODW: How did you get cast in the series?
MD: It was actually really random. I had in been in Los Angeles for about a year. This was about 3 or 4 months ago and my agent called, asked if I would mind taking a trip to New York. The people over at “The Good Wife” want to see you. I thought, ok, I’ll go wrap up some things at my apartment while I was there.

While I was doing that I get a call from my manager and he sends me over to audition for "Rubicon". I knew nothing about the show at that point. I had only my script to go on. I went in there and, honestly, I had very little time to prepare.

I went and met with casting whom I had met before. So, I read for them. It was actually a slow process. There’s this expression, they put a pin in me. I heard about this and I thought, ok, and then a few weeks later I found out that I got the part. But the audition process was really cool. I was able to just go in there, act, talk about the show with the casting director. We talked about “24” because I had actually just finished watching Season 2 at that point. I like conspiracies. It came into my life just at the right time.

ODW: Where are you from originally?
MD: I’m originally from South Carolina. I grew up in a very rural, small southern town.

ODW: Did you find acting in college?
MD: Yeah, actually. I grew up in an Indian family and the goal was for me to do something corporate, certainly something more responsible than acting. I had decided through this whole journey that I wanted to be a producer. I was very interested in directing at the time when I was finishing high school and going into college.

I went to George Washington University in D.C., studied film and business. I did that for about three years. I constructed my own major and then I transitioned into acting after taking some acting classes. I was always interested in it and always wanted to do it professionally. Then after I graduated I got this really great gig. I had moved to New York City and started working at a network.

While I was there I was always going on auditions and hoping for that break. I shot a few commercials which was kind of cool but still not enough for me to make a transition. Then I got this really great opportunity to do this Bollywood movie in southern India. I never thought I would end up doing something like that but it was the coolest experience. I got to go to India for three months and make a movie.

ODW: What was the name of the movie?


ODW: It seems like every year it gets harder to get films and quality things made. What do you think of VOD as a way of getting good films and shows to more viewers?

MD: I love VOD. I watch shows on demand every day. It was my girlfriend that actually got me involved. She was already a huge fan of VOD.

ODW: It’s a way for you to keep on top of programming. And you don’t have to program anything. It’s there for you when you want to see it.

MD: The reason why VOD is so good is because a lot of people are leading busy lives and they’re not able to sit in front of the tv every week at 8:00. VOD is just an easy way to access your favorite shows.

ODW: What kind of things are you watching?
MD: Obviously I watch "Rubicon."

ODW: Okay, now you’re just pandering.
MD: I watch “Entourage” religiously. I watch “Weeds” and “Dexter.” “30 Rock” I watch all the time. I was just watching “The Office” last night. Another show I really like for the writing and the way its constructed, is “Nurse Jackie.” I think it has the strongest writing and acting on tv.


Manish Dayal / Rubicon (AMC)

ODW: It is dark.
MD: Yeah, it’s dark, a very different pace than a sitcom. The sitcom is just a lot faster and spontaneous. "Rubicon" is just very different than that.

ODW: But "Rubicon" does play off it’s secondary characters. It has a humorous tension to it. You don’t get that on a show like “24,” a show that takes itself very seriously. You don’t get that with "Rubicon." "Rubicon" has a terrific sense of humor even though it’s essentially a how about conspiracies.
MD: Yes, whether it’s a half hour comedy or a full hour drama, the show needs to have distinct characters. I think if that’s created from the beginning, you’ve got a great show. I think that’s the trick to making a successful show.

ODW: Any plans on taking you out of that cage?
MD: I hope so!

Manish Dayal
Manish Dayal / Rubicon (AMC)

ODW: Other than "Rubicon," have you got any other projects coming up?

MD: Yeah, I just did an episode of this new show on NBC called “Outsourced,” based on the film. It’s a really funny comedy about outsourcing in India. It was a cool experience. It was my first time doing a half hour sitcom, very different than "Rubicon."

- Adam Schartoff

Adam Schartoff
Adam Schartoff is film journalist for several film-related web sites as well as Media Editor for WestView, a downtown NYC newspaper. He lives in Brooklyn.

Look for Manish on Broadcast TV and VOD
“Rubicon” is available on AMC On Demand
“Outsourced” is available on NBC On Demand


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