Common knows he can't replace Mohan on Never Have I Ever and he's not trying: 'I loved Hot Dad!
Warning: This post contains spoilers about Never Have I Ever season 2.
As much as Never Have I Ever's second season focuses on Devi's (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) love triangle, she isn't the only character making decisions about her love life. For the first time since losing Mohan (Sendhil Ramamurthy), Nalini (Poorna Jagannathan) has a love interest in Dr. Chris Jackson, played by Common.
EW spoke with Common about being a fan of the series before joining, his arc, and whether he'd like to return in the future.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You were a fan of Never Have I Ever before joining the cast, correct? What was your experience with the series?
COMMON: Last year when everything stood still, I started watching a few shows. A friend of mine told me to watch Never Have I Ever. It was touching my heart. I watched at least the first five episodes [immediately] and then I couldn't wait to watch the next ones. I was really impacted by how good I felt watching it. It had a lot of things that I love in movies and great TV shows.
It really is a show that just makes you feel happy.
Yeah, it makes you feel good. I needed that in my life, and I need it now in my life. I can remember the last scene [of season 1] of Devi going to the ocean, that really was moving to me. Some of the lessons and things she was dealing with, it hit on the truth but it also was very feel-good and inspiring.
How did loving the show translate to being on the show? How did that happen?
My manager texted me and said, "Didn't you tell me you really like Never Have I Ever?" I was like, "Yeah, I really love that show." Then he was like, "Well, I might have an offer for you to appear on it. [Co-creator] Mindy [Kaling] wants to meet with you and see if you're interested." I got super happy, I was telling my friends who watched it, "I might be on Never Have I Ever!" It was sincere joy. I really wanted to be a part of the world and deliver something that was what they envisioned about the character but also give it some other nuances and give him some more heart.
What was it like doing a half-hour comedy and acting across from someone as funny as Poorna Jagannathan?
Obviously I've done a lot of dramatic acting but I enjoy doing comedy when it's something like Never Have I Ever, when the writing is so great. [With Poorna], sometimes you break character. [Laughs] I definitely had my moments of laughing, but overall I was just trying to live in the character and be there. The more honest you are in those moments, the funnier it becomes.
You were coming in as the first love interest for Nalini after losing Mohan, a character the world fell in love with in season 1. Were you aware of the "Hot Dad" love and did that add any pressure?
I loved Hot Dad! I didn't love him in the way like, "Oh he's so hot." I mean, he's a handsome guy. [Laughs] There was something very endearing about him. In watching season 1, I loved seeing him on-screen so I could see where he would be that Hot Dad, but I felt like, you know, I'm just going to be who I am, bring what Dr. Jackson would bring. But I was aware that this is a charming and incredible guy, but I felt like Dr. Jackson's charm and his actually caring for Nalini was going to shine through.
Did you know much about Dr. Jackson's full-season arc going into the project?
That's what was exciting for me when I got to meet with [co-creators] Mindy [Kaling] and Lang [Fisher] was that they were like, "At first Dr. Jackson is her rival. He's one of those doctors that does do celebrity clients and likes it too." I have friends who are like that but they still have depth to them, they still care and they still are good human beings. They just like the spotlight. But the point is, I like that development in the character, that arc. When you first meet him, you don't know much about him so as you get to know him, you understand he's a father who's trying to do right by his son, he actually really cares for Nalini and wants the best for her beyond their romance.
In the end, they decided the timing was off for their romance, but is there a world in which you'd come back in future episodes if given the opportunity?
It would be really fun. I would love for Dr. Jackson to come back at some point because Nalini acknowledged that it wasn't the right time. Timing is a lot. It's gotta be the right time. From what Dr. Jackson provided in her life, he might be back. Who knows.
Never Have I Ever season 2 is on Netflix now.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.