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Mindy Kaling rose to fame as the charmingly shallow and occasionally conniving Kelly Kapoor on "The Office." But behind the scenes, Kaling was one of the comedic geniuses who wrote, executive produced, and directed episodes of the long-running NBC comedy -- notably episodes about Pam and Jim.
She segued from the NBC comedy to her eponymous series, "The Mindy Project," in 2012 and is now playing the rom-com-obsessed Dr. Mindy Lahiri, an OB-GYN. While Dr. Lahiri found tremendous success professionally, her personal life is an endearing mess.
Kaling, executive producer Matt Warburton, and her hilarious cast -- Ike Barinholtz (Morgan Tookers), Chris Messina (Danny Castellano), Ed Weeks (Jeremy Reed), Zoe Jarman (Betsy Putch), and Beth Grant (Nurse Beverly Janoszewski) -- gathered at PaleyFest 2013 to dish on Season 2, "The Office's" influence, and how the "The Mindy Project" came to be.
1. Season 2 is so happening!
It was recently revealed that "The Mindy Project" was renewed for a second season, and the cast is already brainstorming what they want the season to look like and the guest stars they'd love to have!
Topping Kaling's wish list is Danny McBride as her new gay friend. But she doesn't want him to be the typical "Sex and the City"-type BFF, who's well-dressed and well-meaning. She wants a 6'4" brawler, with whom she gets kicked out of bars with and who is madly in love with Messina's character. Kaling also said she wants Rainn Wilson cast as a dapper, sexy man; I want to be the one who makes that happen, she added.
More guests on the wish list? Rowan Atkinson as Jeremy Reed's (Weeks) dad and one of the Wahlbergs as his brother.
2. But which star is already set to guest this season?
Talented model turned actress Chloe Sevigny will show up as Danny’s ex-wife, Christina! So get ready to see a whole new side of him. Barinholtz explained that we all see Danny as “the cat who caught the canary” when it comes to women, but when his ex-wife shows up, Messina’s character is reduced to a flustered, sweaty mess.
3. Kaling is filming 'The Office' finale next week
When asked her thoughts and feelings about leaving "The Office," Kaling was frank, saying that it is hard, because it was such a long and important eight years. And that's why there have been so many "The Office" stars -- Ellie Kemper, Ed Helms, B.J. Novak -- popping up on "The Mindy Project." Kaling also hinted that the "The Office" finale is an amazing bit of television that she's excited about.
4. Like mother, like daughter
So why did Kaling decide to play an OB-GYN and set the show in a doctor’s office? She revealed that her mother was an OB-GYN and that she always saw her mom as a fun, glamorous woman with a cache of fun stories to tell. Kaling also thought that the unpredictable hours and the connections with women would be ripe with comedic opportunities.
5. Betsy is the new Dwight
Kaling reflected on what she had learned from "The Office." One of the biggest takeaways was the character of Michael Scott and how he had so many unlikeable things about him (he was racist and homophobic, and he made terrible decisions, among other flaws), yet there was a character early on who thought he was amazing: Dwight. Seeing Dwight idolize Michael somehow convinced the audience that it was all OK. And Kaling has taken the idea behind that sort of relationship and applied it to "The Mindy Project." And that's why Betsy's goal in life is to be Dr. Lahiri's BFF.
6. Is that tattoo real?!
Barinholtz, who plays the unpredictable Morgan Tookers -- an ex-con whose best friend is his grandma, with whom he lives -- has a giant stomach tattoo that reads, "No more stealing cars." Barinholtz pulled up his shirt to reveal the tattoo, which he insisted was now real. The show better last at least five seasons, he said. While it's doubtful that the ink is legit, what would be amazing is if Kaling's casting choice for Tooker's grandma happened: Judge Judy!
7. Kaling's story lines finally get the go-ahead
Kaling said that when she was working on "The Office," there were always story lines that she fought hard to push through. Who can forget the episode when Michael Scott watched "The Devil Wears Prada"? Kaling pushed to have a scene where Michael comes into the office and throws his stuff at Pam's head, a la "The Devil Wears Prada." Kaling finally got her story when "The Mindy Project" did a similar story line with Jarman's character, Betsy.
8. The Novak effect
B.J. Novak, the one and only Ryan Howard on "The Office," has already guest-starred on "The Mindy Project," but what's even cooler is that his younger brother Jesse Novak composed the theme music for the show.
Watch the episode with guest star B.J. Novak:
9. How to make it in showbiz
An aspiring screenwriter in the audience asked Kaling about how to make it, and, well, Kaling's suggestion was not as romantic as her character. Kaling said that she never partied or had boyfriends. "I've dated more people in this season than I've met men in my life," she joked. "That was my lifestyle. I never got distracted. I was really hard-working," she continued.
When another audience member later asked Kaling about her worst date, she again confessed that she didn't date much. "I never had a Carrie Bradshaw lifestyle," she said. "I was a nerd who dated nerds. I don't have those sexy stories, but I have a vivid imagination."
10. Rom-coms for all
Kaling's lead character loves romantic comedies. So the moderator asked the cast for their individual rom-com picks. Grant went classic, saying "Roman Holiday" is her favorite. "Sense and Sensibility" takes the top spot for Jarman. Weeks and Messina clearly share a love of Woody Allen flicks, with Weeks saying "Hannah and Her Sisters" was his favorite (not exactly a romantic comedy, as Kaling pointed out) and Messina first saying "Manhattan" (again, not a rom-com, according to Kaling) and then "Annie Hall" (Kaling found that answer acceptable). Barinholtz confessed a fondness for "Love Actually" -- "If you think I'm a loser, I'll fight you in the parking lot," he added.
Not surprisingly, the handsome Messina was in two of Kaling’s all-time favorite romantic comedies. He played a salesman in "You’ve Got Mail" and appeared in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," yet another Allen film mentioned by the cast.
Finally, Warburton named "The Apartment," another classic, as his favorite.
11. Everybody loves Mindy
The cast was asked what makes Kaling such a great boss, and Barinholtz didn't hold back. He told the audience how she makes him laugh more than anything and revealed his nickname for her: Hurri-Kaling (like a hurricane). "Whatever she talks about, she sucks you into her world, and you don't wanna leave," he said, adding that being around Kaling means there's never a dull moment. She also lets him eat off her plate before she even takes a bite.
12. Another book in the works
Kaling published "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)" in 2011, and an audience member asked if she'll ever write another book. Kaling said she's actually writing another one right now! Her past year of low lows and high highs is inspiring her book project, which will include comedic essays. She said to expect her next publication in the next year and a half to two years.
"The Mindy Project" airs Tuesdays at 9:30 PM on Fox.