On The Mindy Project, British actor Ed Weeks works his Hugh Grant charm as Dr. Jeremy Reed, the caddish-but-likable gynecologist in Mindy Lahiri’s hip OB/GYN practice. He began the season as Mindy’s steamy office fling and has since become the resident smooth-talker — but Weeks says we can expect to see his character evolve beyond ladies man, starting with tonight’s episode (airing at 9:30 on Fox), in which his friendship with office weirdo Morgan is tested. Weeks spoke with Vulture about the story line, channeling Bradley Cooper at his audition, and throwing a condom at the casting director’s face.
Was Mindy specifically looking for someone British when she cast you?
The part of Jeremy was initially written as a “Bradley Cooper type,” in quotes. So I was kind of preparing my American accent, which I’d been going into my previous auditions with. And my roommate Maria, who I was practicing it with, said, “Mmm, your American accent is fine, but maybe just go in as yourself because this character would work so much better in your accent.” It had that caddish, Hugh Grant kind of air. So I went, “Well, sod it, I haven’t had very much luck thus far overpreparing, so I’ll trust my gut.” So I just went in and did it in British, and the casting director loved it. I came back in the afternoon and read with Mindy. I remember throwing a condom on the casting director’s face because there was a stage direction during a Jeremy-Mindy makeout scene saying that Jeremy throws birth control at her. So I brought a condom, obviously one that wasn’t used, and threw it at the casting director. There was a little beat and I thought, Oh God, I’ve gone hugely too far and I’m about to be deported back to England and I’ll never be allowed back into America ever again. Mindy sort of said, “That’s hilarious,” in a very flat voice. It wasn’t very comforting. I thought, Is she saying that seriously? Is that ironic? Then I went home and found out they loved me, and one thing led to another.
When you saw they wanted a Bradley Cooper type, did you try to emulate him when you were prepping?
I didn’t try to emulate his voice. I kind of knew what they meant, that he was meant to be a guy who was very self-assured, kind of cocky. The first thing I ever saw Bradley Cooper in was Wedding Crashers. So I guess I had that prototype in my head, of the cocky handsome guy, though I wouldn’t hasten to call myself handsome. I would call myself cocky.
Jeremy is such a womanizer, I forget that he’s actually a gynecologist who has to sit down with women all day and talk about their health.
I’ve had this discussion with Mindy, and people have said to me the idea of Jeremy being a gynecologist is very interesting because he’s a guy and not only is he a guy, but he’s a flirty, smooth-talking kind of guy, and isn’t that a slightly strange fit for someone to be a gynecologist? Jeremy actually is very good at his job, and he would never mix his somewhat caddish personal behavior with his professional behavior … I sometimes wonder if Jeremy’s patients have husbands or boyfriends or partners, what they would think of their loved one going to a gynecologist that has Jeremy’s energy and looks. Maybe they just pretend he’s gay.
I hear you have a big episode coming up tonight. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
All three doctors — Danny, Mindy, Jeremy — and Morgan, go off to Santa Fe for an OB/GYN conference. Morgan and Jeremy are pretty good friends back home in New York. They can laugh with each other and joke and take the piss out of Danny and his sweaty hands. They have this burgeoning bromance. But then once Jeremy is in front of the other doctors and Morgan is acting his usual weird way, Jeremy gets a little bit embarrassed and a little bit annoyed that Morgan is overstepping the boundaries, being a little bit too familiar with Jeremy in front of his colleagues, who Jeremy wants to impress. So the story is about having a pal in private but then denying him once you’re out in the outside world. And of course Morgan finds out that he’s embarrassed and is very hurt, and then there’s a really fun reconciliation, part of which takes place in a sweat lodge, which we had to get pretty naked for. Maybe that’s something to look out for, for fans of middling-quality bodies.
It sounds like a nice change, since I feel like your character gets a lot of plots that revolve around him being a ladies’ man.
I think that’s why I’ve really enjoyed the latter half of the season so much. They’re beginning to move away from just making him all about the women, which is a part of what he is, but I think for longevity we need to see multiple dimensions to all the characters. We need to see their vulnerabilities and them being flawed.
Was bringing this new dimension to your character something you had brought up with Mindy yourself?
Yeah. The first season of any show supposedly sets up all the characters, but in truth things change and characters come in and out and also the writers begin to learn who the actors are more. So they start to write for them. And I think as Mindy and the writers got to know me, Ed, personally, they realized that I wasn’t just this invulnerable, smooth ladies’ man. In fact, I’m quite the opposite. I’m a very anxious, nervy kind of loser in many ways, and I get very stressed and a little tense. And all these fun flaws they’ve managed to write into the character gradually. So we’ll see some more of that, more of Jeremy’s neurotic side. I think the show is a very different show — and I don’t think they’d mind me saying that — as we approach the end of our first season from what it was at the beginning.
I know there was a lot of cast reorganizing that went on mid-season. How did the cast and crew find out about the changes? Did Mindy call a big meeting or anything like that? Had there been rumors that change was afoot?
We had an American Idol–style competition and everybody who’s staying … No, I mean, it’s not really for me to pass comment on those things. I think it’s always hard. You make friends with people and then they’re not there. But the great thing is that it was all done in a very humane way, and everybody is still friends. At the wrap party there was a reunion of sorts.
I know the show is airing in the U.K. What do your friends there think of it?
They love it there, which is a relief. When anybody goes to L.A. from London there’s always this slight sense of What are you doing? Who do you think you are? It’s never gonna happen. It’s the classic good-natured British cynicism. But there’s been an amazing response, and it’s been well reviewed by cool, posh newspapers, which is nice. I always thought it would go down well in Britain because it has this kind of maligned, edgy dark humor to it. Mindy [Lahiri] can be a bit of an asshole, and she can be a bit unlikable, and for a lead character to be that way, especially a woman, is quite rare in American network TV. Whereas in Britain, our comedic heroes, Basil Fawlty and Edmund Blackadder and David Brent, they’re losers. They’re kind of horrible people, so they’re used to having somebody a little bit more monstrous as their lead character in Britain. I mean, Mindy isn’t on that level. Mindy is incredibly likable as a character — but she can be a bit of a prick.