Talking With: Ash Thapliyal from “Troop Zero” and “Evil Eye”
Interview with actor Ash Thapliyal, who landed in both family-friendly to horror films this year.
Ash appeared alongside Allison Janney and Viola Davis as NASA scientist, Dr. Persad, in “Troop Zero.” Set in 1970’s Georgia, the original family dramedy follows a young girl who dreams of life in outer space. More recently, he portrayed the happily married, Amit, in the Blumhouse horror “Evil Eye.” The film stars Sarita Choudhury as a superstitious mother convinced that her daughter Usha's new boyfriend Krishnan is the reincarnation of a man who tried to kill her 30 years ago.
Based in Texas but originally from Mumbai, India, Ash made a life change just a five years ago jumping into the acting arena. Since then, he has racked up several credits, including action-drama “AmeriGeddon,” horror movie “The Devil’s Candy,” family comedy “A Curry on an American Plate,” and the CBS series “NCIS: New Orleans.”
To find our more, we are Talking With Ash Thapliyal about his appearances in these very different movies.
This year you’ve appeared in two very different types of films. What’s that experience been like?
Ash Thapliyal (AT): Yes, they were very different! “Troop Zero” is a big-hearted comedy-drama set at a Scout jamboree, while Evil Eye is a thriller about the intergenerational trauma of a family. Filming “Troop Zero” was tough because we were working outdoors in a Louisiana swamp. Let me tell you, I needed so many cans of mosquito repellant to survive. “Evil Eye” is set mostly in a suburban home, so filming it was much more conventional.
For those who haven’t seen it, tell us about the period family drama “Troop Zero.”
AT: The period film follows a young misfit girl in Georgia who dreams of life in outer space. Her visions are set into motion when I, a NASA scientist, visits to oversee a national competition that just might help get her there.
Did you do any special preparation to portray NASA Scientist Dr. Persad?
AT: My whole life was preparation. I’m already a life-long nerd who works as an Engineer for his day job, so a NASA scientist wasn’t too much of a reach for me. Dr. Persad has a soft spot for the band of misfit girls at the center of the film, because he too is an underdog as an Indian-American in 1970s America. And I can relate to that immigrant experience, even forty years later.
There seems to be great chemistry with all of the cast. Was the film as fun in-between takes and it appears on-screen?
AT: Yes, there was great chemistry, the set was like a summer camp! All the cast and crew were taking time to hang out during breaks and after the shoot. The lead actors in particular set the tone and mood of the team. I cannot sing enough praise of Allison Janney who was genuinely friendly.
Currently, you can be seen in the horror film “Evil Eye” from Blumhouse; tell us about that film.
AT: “Evil Eye” tells the story of a superstitious Indian mother who is convinced that her daughter Usha's new boyfriend Krishnan is the reincarnation of a man who tried to kill her 30 years ago. I step into the storyline as Amit, half of the lovey-dovey couple who are good friends with Usha and Krishnan and live the happily married life that their friends long for.
When shooting a darker story like this, do you find yourself adjusting your performance to fit the genre?
AT: Actually, I’m playing a similar character, a cheery, upbeat guy, in both films. Though “Evil Eye” is a Blumhouse horror film, my character is a foil to the haunted main couple. He is an aspirational character, a man in a happy and uncomplicated relationship.
As an actor, what helps you the most in bringing a character to life?
AT: Personal experience is the biggest thing. And I’ve been lucky with all the roles I’ve gotten so far, cause they’ve all been relatable.
We heard you changed careers a few ago from Engineering to Acting. What brought you to make that decision?
AT: I moved to the US a little late in life and then started a corporate job. It was hard, and I felt like I needed to do something more to be satisfied. I did odd creative work on the side, like singing for a local band and hosting a radio show. I also went to a couple of acting workshops and casting directors told me I was a natural! So, I auditioned and got a few roles, and that was that.
So far, what’s been the most rewarding aspect in your acting career?
AT: It’s happiness and a sense of fulfillment. As they say, the worst day on set beats the best day anywhere else. I don’t need to take vacation days anymore to prevent burnout from my day job, ‘cause acting keeps me going.
Anything else you’d like to share with fans?
AT: Catch me next in Melissa McCarthy’s new comedy "Superintelligence." You can follow me on Instagram @ashthapliyal.artist