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Chris Messina on Being a Competitive Dancer As a Kid

Chris Messina. Photo: FOX

Remember how incredible it was when Danny gave Mindy the gift of dance for Christmas on The Mindy Project? Not just because his performance of Aaliyah’s “Try Again” was both crazy and crazy-thoughtful, which it was, but because Chris Messina killed it. The guy can move. And the writers knew he was up for it. “I made the mistake of telling them I could dance, and then they used it,” Messina told Vulture last Monday at Fox’s TCA press tour party. (Mindy fans might remember Danny debuted his bump-and-grind skills way before the holidays, hitting the dance floor in the series’ third episode, “In the Club.”) Turns out he’s been dancing for years. As a kid, he even competed for Mr. Dance of the United States. “It was a modern dance. I remember I was barefoot,” Messina laughed. “I wanted to be Baryshnikov, I loved dance so much. But I lost, and looking back, I should have, because I was terrible. I still love dance.”

To learn the choreography for “Try Again,” Messina worked with choreographer Jeri Slaughter (a dancer in the original “Try Again” music video), and then perfected the steps at home. “I was at home practicing in the bathroom mirror while my kids are running up to me going, ‘What are you doing?’” They didn’t see the finished product, though. “They saw enough of me doing it in my underwear.” Tonight’s episode of The Mindy Project, the show’s last until April, ends on a pretty wild note for Danny and Mindy. Given that Danny clearly has a big ol’ crush on her, does Messina think they should get together? “I root for scenes with Mindy,” he said diplomatically. “If we’re fighting, if we’re loving each other, I love my scenes with her. I just want more of that.”

Chris Messina on His Competitive Dancing Days