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The James Marsden interview

In an exclusive chat, the actor professes his love for spicy Madras curry, picks Freida Pinto over Priyanka Chopra, and promises himself trips to India more often

brunch Updated: Mar 17, 2018 22:45 IST
Lubna Salim
Lubna Salim
Hindustan Times
The Best Of Me,James Marsden,Hollywood
James Marsden is blessed with a great sense of humour(Getty Images)

What do you do when Hollywood hero James Marsden walks up to your table to say hello? Or better still, shakes hands as well as a cocktail for you? The big dilemma here is between pinching yourself into believing you are not dreaming, and admiring that stunning pair of deep-set light blue eyes (almost like jewels) and those chiselled cheekbones without spilling the drink or the food in your mouth!

Such a dream-like scenario touched base with reality when Marsden flew to New Delhi from Manila last week. “It’s my first visit to Delhi,” announced the affable actor who visited Mumbai for a few days in 2014 to promote his film The Best Of Me (2014).

Marsden, I discover during our chat, is blessed with a great sense of humour, the sort that instantly puts anyone at ease. Before you know it, you’re chuckling at his witty repartee. Add to that his love for spicy Indian food and desire to spend time in India, and you have the recipe for the perfect conversation in place!

Marsden eats Indian food almost three times a week back home in LA (IWC)

On the spice route

“I’ve always wanted to come back to countries where I don’t get to spend much time,” says Marsden. “I believe that you can’t see even a city in a couple of days. So I want to dedicate a week or two experiencing the culture. It’s difficult for me to do so on a work trip.”

After all, he adds, the “smiling, warm and welcoming people make you feel very special just for being there.” And the food is equally enticing.

So much so, that Marsden eats Indian food almost three times a week back home in LA. And during his current trip to Delhi – as part of Diageo’s celebration of International Scotch Day – he has been happily sampling some of the Indian curries at his hotel.

“I love the song and dance part of Bollywood films... You’d not need to put a nickel in me to go on stage and do a song and dance number!”

“I had this vegetable curry from Madras (Chennai) and I was tasting spices and flavours that I’ve never tasted before. It blew me away in that it tasted so different than what I get in the States,” he says.

So I implore him to pick his favourite Indian dish, and with his signature grin and a glint in the eyes he says, “I’m gonna get the name wrong, so I won’t attempt to give it you.”

But he shares how he got the hotel staff to up the spice level in each dish because he really does love spicy food, and adds how much he relished the tikka masala. “In the States they add cream and milk to it, so the Indian food there is creamier. But with all those spices and tomatoes and all other ingredients, it was phenomenal here. I sent a note to the chef thanking him,” he adds.

Bollywood bytes

The actor is now excited about his forthcoming rom com The Female Brain and promoting the second season of the TV series Westworld (Getty Images)

Marsden engaged audiences with his moving performances in movies like Enchanted, The Notebook, 27 Dresses, and X-Men, as well as TV series like Wander Over Yonder and 30 Rock among others. And he claims he loves Bollywood and how prolific the industry is.

“I think you out-produce our films in Hollywood by a significant number, don’t you? It’s fantastic to see the culture really embracing the arts,” he says.

The actor is honest enough to say that he hasn’t recently had the chance to watch any Bollywood movie, but is open to suggestions. He’s met Priyanka Chopra, who crossed over from Bollywood to Hollywood, a few times, and thinks she is very talented.

“My best friend who played the villain in the first season of Quantico worked with Priyanka, so I met her a few times through him,” he says. “It’s wonderful to see someone from India come and take Hollywood by storm. It was a meteoric rise within a week for her. She’s obviously an incredibly beautiful woman but is very talented too. I’m assuming you are very proud of her.”

But his favourite Bollywood actress is Freida Pinto!

If he were to act in a Bollywood movie, would he prefer to play an action or a romantic hero, I ask. “Uh, just those two,” he says with a laugh, and adds that he may lean towards the romantic roles. And, he’s all for the song and dance part of it too. “Oh I love it. It reminds me of the musicals of the 1940s. You’d not need to put a nickel in me to get up on stage and do a song and dance number!”

The actor is now excited about his forthcoming rom com The Female Brain, and promoting the second season of the TV series Westworld. “The first season was very well received and we just wrapped the shooting of the second one,” he says.

For now, he’s spending a lot of time with his kids who are proud of their superhero dad.

From HT Brunch, February 18, 2018

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