THE JAMES MARS­DEN IN­TER­VIEW

IN AN EX­CLU­SIVE ONE-ON-ONE, THE HOL­LY­WOOD STAR CON­FESSES HIS UN­RE­QUITED LOVE FOR IN­DIA, AND HIS UNADUL­TER­ATED OB­SES­SION FOR FOODS FULL OF SPICE

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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

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W hat 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!

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 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

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.

“i lOve the sOng and dance part Of BOl­ly­wOOd films... yOu’d nOt need tO put a nick el in me tO gO On stage and dO a sOng and dance num­Ber!”

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