As mentioned in the initial article on these interviews I met Ritesh Rajan outside the studio while waiting for the publicist to park her car. We needed little introduction to get started. Snapping a quick photo, the interview began.
MFT: Right off the bat, I’ve got to say that I absolutely adore your character…
Ritesh: Thank you.
MFT: I do have to admit that there are not too many characters in the show that I did not connect with.but yours, I connected with almost immediately. Because Linus was a young version of how I saw me.
MFT: Although much more intelligent as your character obviously can do all these scientific things.
Ritesh: Yeah it’s true, I’ve got a lot of…scientific intelligence but my IQ is a little bit lower though.
MFT: I believe in one of my reviews I refer to Linus as a “social inept.” Yet, he has all this other…peripheral information that other people would kill for. Film references, video game lingo…
Ritesh: Yeah, it’s a funny thing when I approach the character, I try not to view it through a lack of personal skills but he is just so naive and open that people find it strange. And people go, why is he doing that? It’s just because he doesn’t know any better and to everyone else he’s just off.
MFT: Which makes you easy prey for Camille.
Ritesh: Exactly. Easy pickings.
MFT:The look Camille gets on her face when she is with him…
MFT: It’s like “I’m in charge again.”
MFT: Towards the end of last season, your character was really not very pleased with anyone. First of all there was a crack in the “bromance” between you (Linus) and Cameron and then you felt like Camille totally stabbed you in the back…Does that rectify itself this season?
Ritesh: Um, it does but there are other obstacles that Linus faces throughout season two and not that you forget about the issues at the end of season one, it’s more of a pretty large character growth with Linus, particularly in his personal growth; his maturity. It’s also about how that maturity manifests itself in dealing now with the issues he has with his lab partners.
Ritesh: So the conflict is there but he has ways of dealing with it now, rather than attacking it head on. He is a more nuanced person. I think he finally understands that we’re all in difficult situations and everyone is trying to do the best they can. And no one is trying to step on each other’s toes.
As much as it may have hurt my feelings initially, I think he comes to an understanding of “Okay this is part of the job and we’re dealing with other people’s lives. How are we going to do this to create the best scenario possible and where we can succeed as a group. Let’s stop thinking about the individual and start thinking of the program as a whole.
So, you know, there’s a lot of growing up that happens and it’s exciting.
MFT: That’s brilliant. The thing I’ve go to ask you is, how different are you from Linus?
Ritesh: It’s funny, because there’s certain things about Linus that are very similar to me and there’s a lot of things that are very different. It’s weird because you’d think that the techie stuff, cause its far reaching…But I find that it is the more far reaching things with Linus are more similar to me than normal stuff.
Ritesh: Oh yeah, as a person I’m very easy-going, more open, very personable…
MFT: And another chap on the show told me that you’re very open to playing video games all day long in your PJ’s…
Ritesh: (Laughing) I do like playing games on computers, I do like that kind of stuff. I do all that techie stuff, I grew up watching cartoons, reading comic books and anime…But there’s a whole different side of me that is not Linus. I love to dance, I’m big into martial arts, I love basketball…So theres a lot; little pieces here and there that do fit. I wouldn’t say it’s 50/50 but there are certain things about Linus that are spot on from me.
MFT:Did it take you a long time to make the shift from the Linus of season one to how he is now?
Ritesh: The struggle with Linus was being able to… You know I don’t want to play a version of myself, you know, “Tesh” on the show; I need to play Linus. So for me, one of the biggest struggles was finding the balance between this kind of “tech-nerd” and a human being.
Especially being Indian and playing a scientist on television right now, I mean there’s not many opportunities for an Indian guy…He’s going to play a doctor, a scientist, or a taxi driver, terrorist or something atypical.” So I get to the opportunity to play a scientist but also to play a real character. That for me is always going to come first; before the science.
Anyone can learn a subject but who are you as a person is always going to come first.
MFT: And in my humble opinion you pull that off. I’ve met brilliant people who are scientists and so on, after 57 years on this earth, and many are folks who know all the film references and video games and you can have a real laugh with them and your Linus is like that.
Ritesh: Thank you. At the end of the day, that’s what is interesting. Sometimes people find scientists boring. Both my parents are doctors, right, and for me they obviously have scientific minds but when I talk about my dad, the first thing I think about is how funny he is and his accent and how funny he is when he talks to me.
It’s funny, I don’t think of him being a doctor, or my mother being a doctor, it’s secondary; just a backdrop to their personalities.
MFT: It doesn’t define who they are.
Ritesh: Well, a certain aspect of it does affect how they’ve developed as a human being but first and foremost it’s about how they were affected through their life by their own personal experiences and kind of manifesting those stories through a character hopefully it comes through to the audience.
That’s what makes the characters relatable. I mean, what 16 or 18 year-old is like, “Oh yeah, I’m a science prodigy with degrees and a PHD…” Nobody, well there’s maybe one, so you gotta figure out how to do “Oh I get that.”
MFT: I’ve got to say that the chemistry between you and Allison works beautifully.
Ritesh: Thank you for saying that.
MFT: I’ve enjoyed the two of you together, each time you team up I know there’s going to be “good stuff” going on. Will your character’s fix their issues?
Ritesh: We do have a “journey,” I don’t want to give anything away too much. There is definitely a journey that happens, both emotionally, personally and as individuals and as friends and as a unit, you’ll see what happens.
MFT: I’m hoping for good things to happen.
Ritesh: Linus has a lot of growing up to do. Obviously he considers Cameron his best friend and the “passing of the torch” that went right over Linus’ head and straight to Camille was an emotional thing and kind of an ego thing too.
He’s like, “I’ve been in the lab as long as you and have the same credentials as you, so what’s up?” It goes along with his being so naive and his ability to interact with other humans. It’s like, “you are a good choice because you don’t have the best social skills” and he’s like “I don’t get it.”
Ritesh: But I think he internalizes that and decides that it is something he needs to work on and we see that growth in season two.
MFT:Does he still have a crush on Kirsten?
Ritesh: You mean does Linus have a crush on Kirsten
MFT: Well, I’ve always thought that he had a crush on her.
Ritesh: Ah-h-h-! Well, I have thought about that! Although I think Linus is just trying to be a ladies man. He’ll take what he can get! I don’t think he’s choosy. Although seriously to a certain extent it makes sense. She’s a young, attractive smart woman and I think Linus finds that attractive. Camille is the same bet. Here is someone I can have an intelligent conversation with who happens to be attractive also. I don’t think that there is a chance of a relationship but I think Linus would say she is a strong attractive woman.
MFT:Well, I always thought from the moment the “I heart Linus” thing came up…
Ritesh: I thing that’s Linus’s version of flirting I guess, it doesn’t work really, but he can pretend.
MFT: Well I love what you guys have done and, as I tell everyone, the season one finale was just brilliant…
Ritesh: I thing a lot of people are going to be excited about season two is, by definition, a 2.0 version of the show. In front of the camera and behind the camera, the storylines, the camera work, just the way it looks, the tone, the feel…It’s just that little bit more mature and a bit more hard hitting.
MFT: Everyone is saying that season two is really amped up.
Ritesh: It is and yet it still retains the charm the everyone fell in love with. So hopefully we’ll get a lot of new viewers and our foundation and our fans come back and love it and spread the word.
With that our time was up and after thanking Ritesh for the chat, it was time to move on to the next victim.