Royal Pains: An Interview With Reshma Shetty

By on June 1, 2010

While on a set visit to Royal Pains, we were fortunate to interview the gorgeous, Reshma Shetty who plays Divya Katdare.  

Divya Katdare  is a practical, efficient, and ambitious woman in her 20s who would rather be Hank’s physician assistant than do what her family thinks is appropriate for a young woman of her socio-economic status: attend polo matches and plan charity events.  She shows up at Hank’s Westhampton motel room with a resume in hand — and mobile medical equipment in her trunk — demanding that Hank hire her as his assistant. She’s definitely got something to prove to her traditional parents, who aren’t quite down with her program … yet.  In the meantime, however, she plans to keep her new job a secret from her family. For her, working with Hank would be a dream, not a game she’s playing to kill time until she marries a rich man. And though Hank might not yet realize it, he needs Divya’s help as much as she needs him

Reshma Shetty is a graduate of the famed Opera department at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Immediately following graduation, she nabbed the lead role of Priya in A.R. Rayman’s/Andrew Llyod Webber’s first national tour of “Bombay Dreams” and was asked to appear as Ayah in Broadway’s World AIDS Day Benefit “The Secret Garden.”  Additional theatre credits include roles and readings with the Contemporary American Theatre Festival, The New Dramatists, The Playwrights Forum and The Lark Theatre Company. This past spring, Shetty opened to rave reviews in her Off-Broadway debut at The New Group starring in Ayub Khan-Din’s “Rafta Rafta.” 

Shetty has been seen on NBC’s “30 Rock,” and in 2008 made her big screen debut opposite Ally Sheedy and Oscar-nominated Ruby Dee in “Steam.” Shetty is also the face of Dove Moisturizer bar in India.

We found Reshma to be down to earth, sweet and very funny. Here are a couple of facts that we learned during our interview with Reshma:

  • Reshma is engaged
  • Reshma was going to be a doctor and was pre-med in college
  • Reshma sings and would love to star in Les Miserable

Check out the complete interview after the jump!!  And don’t forget to tune in on Thursday, June 3, 2010 on the USA Network to see the premiere of season 2.

Panel:              We were asking the producers earlier about whether or not there might be a potential romance, you know, between you and someone on the show.

Reshma:          No, who?

Panel:              Well, there’s been—you know, we just saw the first episode of season two.

Reshma:          Yes.

Panel:              And, you know, there are some people who think there might be some sexual tension between you and–.

Panel:              Evan.

Reshma:          Okay. Good. I was like–.

Panel:              And they were saying that there’s some debate among the writers about whether or not, you know, they should become more than colleagues and–.

Panel:              What are your personal feelings about that?

Reshma:          I think the chemistry between Evan and Divya is very—it’s fun to play first of all. And it’s very easy to play. Do I think it’s going to become something romantic? I don’t think it will in the beginning. I could see it going in that direction. Right now, I think it’s just the battling of I think he’s an idiot. I think he’s an idiot. And it’s one of those, I think, relationships at this point.

                        But could it become something else? Absolutely! Right now, we’re kind of like brother/sister. He is kind of annoying. And I think you’ll see in the episodes that we’ve shot thus far that we’ve become a lot more emotionally attached, meaning that he will open up to me a lot more and I, actually, want to listen.

                        I think in the past, I really didn’t. I was just like the gnat that’s over here going ZZZZZZ or something. And I’ve accepted it. Okay. He’s here. I can’t really get rid of him. He’s part of whatever it is.

                        I didn’t answer your question at all, mostly because I don’t know. But it’ll be fun.

Panel:              Yeah, the kiss was fun.

Reshma:          You liked the kiss?

Panel:              Yeah, you could see that there was a little spark there.

Reshma:          There was a little spark there, yes. Thank you for noticing. Yeah. I don’t know. It’s fun right now. I think they’re playing with it. I think they can go any way.

Panel:              So, does that mean we won’t be seeing a wedding this season?

Reshma:          I don’t know.

Reshma:          They won’t tell me! I don’t know! I think that the big thing with Divya for the episodes that I’ve seen thus far is just this battle within her, which is her culture is such a big thing, you know. And pleasing her parents is such a big thing. And how do we separate ourselves from them? You know, what is she going to do? How is she going to—and it’s a battle for her. It’s a real battle for her.

Panel:              Would that be okay for her parents if she were to cancel her engagement and end up with Evan who is not of the same culture?

Reshma:          Would it be okay? Probably not. But that’s a battle, right? I mean parents also have to give as well as kids. So, I don’t know.

Panel:              What’s Divya’s take on the boy’s father? Is she a bit of a charmer with him?

Reshma:          The boy’s father? You mean Roger’s father?

Panel:              Eddy?

Reshma:          Oh, Eddy. Oh. Well, first of all, he’s charming regardless. Like Henry Winkler is the most—I call him lovely. He’s the loveliest man I have met in ages. Like he just—the first time I met him, I blushed and I tend to not blush. Well, I tend to not blush anyway because I’m brown. I’m just like, purple hue is usually where I go.

                        But he’s lovely. And I haven’t actually had a scene with him yet. So, I don’t know. But I think it’ll be a really interesting dynamic because he is definitely—she respects Hank so much that I’m interested to see how they’re going to have my reaction to him. But I haven’t actually had a scene yet with him. So, I don’t know.

                        Did you guys like the first episode? If you say no you should leave, so.

Panel:              Oh, yes!

Panel:              When you shot that scene outside in that dress—that cute little dress with the back [inaudible]?

Reshma:          Yes, it was freezing.

Panel:              Was it? Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.

Reshma:          It was freezing. The first four episodes, it’s been freezing, absolutely freezing. I’m known on set to be the person who gets the coldest. So, I have a duffle coat that I have continuously. And I still have it, actually. [laugh] They bought a heater for me here too. It’s in my dressing room. It’s kind of sad.

                        But the first parts were really cold. There’s a scene—oh, I don’t think—I think it’s in the fourth episode. But it’s a night scene and it was so cold. I was literally trembling before it started. And then it was like perfect for like the few minutes I had to talk. And then as soon as I had to stop talking, it was like [inaudible].

                        So, that’s definitely a challenge that we have.

Panel:              Are there any similarities between you as a person and the character you play, and if so, what?

Reshma:          We’re both Indian. I have that going for me. But, you know, the more and more I get to know Divya, the more and more she’s—I thought at first that she was kind of like me. But we have definite things that—I’m nowhere near as organized as she is. Like she is so put together and I’m not put together.

                        She is very—she does things—like the way she dresses, the way she acts, is just her natural way. I tend to not—I mean I prefer to be—I went to Paris, actually. My fiancé took me to Paris where he proposed. And I just remember sitting and watching the French women and how put together they were. And it was freezing and they were walking down the street in these beautiful skirts and high heels.

                        And for two days, I came back and I was inspired. And then I kind of went to me, which was sweat pants and flip-flops. I enjoy dressing up but it’s not a day-to-day thing. And I think Divya, you know, you’ll see her in medical situations where—I mean I would’ve been like, take the heels off, get down in there, and Divya doesn’t. She just knows how to be that way.

How else? I think that Divya is—I think you’re going to get to see her sense of humor. You’re going to get to see how she is a bit more—I’m allowing a bit more of me to get into her, I guess. I definitely have a sense of humor that is very sharp like hers. I tend to—that is the British in me though, I think—and also the—what is the word—the compassion that I think you’re going to start to see in her. I think she really does care about helping people. And I think—I was going to be a doctor. And that was the reason–.

Panel:              Oh, really?

Reshma:          Yeah, that I was—did pre-med in my undergrad. I really did care [and help]. But I think you start to see that in [this way]. I hope that I don’t have any problem with her but–.

                        Other than that, I mean, seriously, the stuff they’ve told me that Divya’s going to become this season is very exciting. So, you’re going to see a very different side of her, letting go, that you don’t see yet. You kind of see her emotional battle with her family and the wedding stuff. But I think you’re going to start to see a definite softer side of her.

Panel:              You mentioned that you were going to be a doctor. What was the turning point for you when you decided to become an actress, and how does your family feel about it?

Reshma:          Good question. I think the turning point is the point that you realize that if you don’t try something, you’re going to regret it for the rest of your life. And that was my speech to my Dad. It was quite a speech, my friends. [laugh] I was a sophomore in college and I had to call my father who’s a physician himself, you know.

                        And when I talk about being a doctor, I mean I was hardcore. I was president of my science club. I was all that stuff in high school. Music was something that I did on the side. Acting was something that I did as a hobby and I tended to be good at.

                        To tell him, I mean it was really difficult. “Hey, Dad, you know, I want to get out of being a doctor and having a set salary, and I want to be an actor.”

                        Like that’s kind of a hard thing for any culture to accept.

Panel:              How do they feel about you being an actress now?

Reshma:          I think they’re enjoying it at the moment. But, you know, they’re parents. I mean they want you to be financially settled. They want you to be happy.

                        The big thing with my parents is they want me to be happy. They don’t ‘get’ this world. They really don’t understand. Like my Dad’s like, “So, what are you doing today?”

                        And I’m like, “Well, I’m in my trailer.”

                        “Trailer? Okay, what’s a trailer?”

                        And, you know, you have to really describe these things to them. They haven’t been to set yet. So, they don’t know what this is all about. But I think they’re happy. I hope they’re happy.

Panel:              Are they fans of the show?

Reshma:          [No].

Panel:              In terms of like a turning point though, I mean was there anything that triggered you whether it be someone that inspired you, any, you know, acting production you were involved with that you just said, “This is it. This is what I want to do?”

Reshma:          Well, I’m a theater person. I mean I started out on the stage. So, I think there’s a huge difference when, you know, you’re on a stage and it’s a blackout there and you have—I remember one of my first roles was I did Maria in West Side Story. And it was—there was that moment on stage when you suddenly realized that people are being affected by you. You don’t feel it when you’re on TV, obviously, because you’re filming and then it’s broadcast.

                        But when you’re doing it live, it’s a very different—it’s a different animal. So, I think when you get that bug, it’s kind of hard to get rid of that bug and plus, you cannot be you. And that’s kind of a cool thing, you know.

                        Every day, we get up and we see our flaws and we see what’s wrong with us. And when you get to do a character, you get to either accentuate those flaws and have nobody really judge you because you’re acting or, you know, you got to be perfect and you know you’re not.

                        So, it’s hard. When you get that opportunity, it’s kind of difficult.

Panel:              What would you say is one of the biggest challenges that you face as an actress, and how have you overcome that?

Reshma:          With me it’s diversity. With me it’s actually getting the opportunities to get certain roles. It’s changing a lot. It’s getting so much better to be, for me, an Indian-American-British actress. But that, I think, is the biggest challenge, for someone to give you a role that is kind of out of the box.

Panel:              You also mentioned, you know, ad libbing some things to add humor, you know, [behoove] yourself to the character. So, how much room do the writers allow for that?

Reshma:          Good question. A lot, actually. A lot more, I think. The writers, as you just met, are both—you know, the two [heads] Andrew and Michael, are amazing and they’re my friends. I feel comfortable enough to actually go to talk to them and say, “You know what? Could I try this?” (My sister’s calling me)

                        “Can I do this? Can I try this?”

                        Ultimately, you know, it’s Andrew’s vision. It’s his character. And I think if you’re—I believe that what they write is who you should become. I can sit there and say, “You know, it’d be easier for me to do this because this is me.”

                        But I’m not playing me, you know. So, I’m a big believer in—you know, you find out who you are from the words that you’re given. Ah, [whatever]. [indiscernible]

Panel:              You said what aspects you were playing into Divya, but what do you take from her?

Reshma:          Ooh! Try to dress better. She is great accessorizing and I’m learning how to accessorize a bit better, not today because I’m about to go to work. So, all the stuff is off—but accessorizing, I think. And also being calm. She’s so put together. It’s kind of annoying at times—that I was as put together as she is, as I’ve said. But I guess I’m learning that.

Panel:              So, because of your pre-med background, will you be doing a scene with medical [indiscernible]?

Reshma:          Huh! No. No. That was a long time ago. I’ve been asked before about the medical jargon and it is it easy to say. It’s not easy to say and it’s not easy to put across as easy to say. But, as I said, I was surrounded with that growing up with my Dad’s books and stuff.

                        Actually, yesterday, they were doing some shot and there was a burn or something. And I was looking at it. And most people were like, “Ewe,” but I was used to looking at my Dad’s books and seeing all these gross things and liking the stories.

                        In pre-med, I did a program that we actually went into surgeries and followed the doctors in there and I remember seeing a hip replacement. And it’s really gross. But it’s fascinating, you know.

                        I cannot watch slasher movies like Nightmare on Elm Street—I completely avoided it in my childhood. I can’t deal with that, but I can deal with like watching real-life surgeries. It’s very strange. Very strange.

Panel:              Has your father ever offered you advice or criticism of how the medicine is handled on the show?

Reshma:          He hasn’t, actually. He hasn’t, more because I think he knows it’s a TV show. I mean, he could sit there and he could definitely sit and analyze things and say, “Reshma, you put that in wrong.” But he hasn’t—he’s [kind of], he’s also my Dad. I mean what’s my Dad really going to say to me?

Reshma:          I think he’s—I think he’s kind of cool. He laughs. He laughed at the boat episode—the episode with the rib coming out thing. He thought that was very interesting. But, yeah, no, he hasn’t, not to my face. Maybe I’ll ask him.

Panel:              What’s your favorite part of the Hamptons when you’re out there?

Reshma:          Well, we only went out there last week. I’ve already had people ask. I haven’t had the chance to really enjoy the Hamptons, you know, they were filming, you know. And when we were there last week, it’s still not in its—it’s not up and open yet. It’s still cold. So, people aren’t out there.

                        I went to a few parties last year, and it’s a definite place that I think you have to have a home and a base to enjoy, you know. And I’m kind of past the whole “white toga go out there and kind of smash” stage of my life. So, I can, you know, pass it on to my sister and say, “Hey, that’s fun.”

                        But I don’t know. I haven’t really had a real time out there. When I do, I’ll tell you.

Panel:              [Since this is] your base here in New York for the show, I was wondering are you interested in possibly pursuing any theater up here since New York [inaudible]?

Reshma:          Oh, I do. I do. I mean right before show, I did—I was doing an Off-Broadway play called Rafta Rafta. Absolutely! I mean that’s the reason that’s I’ve stuck in New York. I really like the idea of being able to do something theater-wise.

                        But, you know, I mean LA’s a thought that I’ve thought about going out there, actually, after the season to see. I’ve never tried it. I’ve never tried LA. So, I don’t know. I’ll see. I think it’s a different animal.

Panel:              Have you done anything on the west end?

Reshma:          I haven’t. When I moved here, I was 16. So, I never did. I’d love that. That would be so amazing—just so amazing. That’s like a childhood dream I mean.

                        I started doing this because I would listen to Phantom of the Opera and I would—Miss Saigon and Les Mis. I was that stage. You know, that was my huge inspiration to get into all of this. So, it would be a dream. I wouldn’t even know. I would be just like, “Ahhh.”

Panel:              You’ll get there, girl.

Reshma:          I hope so.

Panel:              Do you sing?

Reshma:          That’s what I started at. And my first role was—my first professional role was Preeya in Bombay Dreams, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s first national tour.

Panel:              Do you have a dream musical that you want to do?

Reshma:          A dream musical? I would love to do Les Mis. I auditioned for that but the problem was that they always wanted me in for Fantine. And my voice isn’t low enough to do Fantine. So, I’d be like [Reshma imitating singing]. Like it was not a very good mix for me. I love to do Cosette but Cosette’s like 16 and I don’t look 16 anymore. I can’t lie about that.

Panel:              The producers mentioned how Anastasia Griffith had dropped her accent because you got yours. Can you do American?

Reshma:          I can attempt to. My accent’s kind of a mix. They’re really cool. They don’t make me—I think that maybe when I’m on the stage when I’m doing Divya, the accent comes out stronger. But in my everyday life—nobody in my family has a British accent. My sister moved here when she was really young. So, she has an American one now. My parents have like an Anglo-Indian deal going on. And it’s me and as I’ve said so many times, it’s BBC America. I mean that’s my thing.

                        So, I didn’t know she was British. I saw her in Damages and I loved her in Damages. And when she starts her talking—I remember my first thought was, “Is she making fun of me? Like what’s going on?”

                        And then suddenly she was like, “I’m a British actress.”

                        I had no idea. And she goes to a coach and she does an incredible job. But there are moments that she’ll go out and as we all do, when you got to say ‘schedule’ and ‘water’ and ‘can’t’, it’s really—like the worst for me is ‘can’. It’s really difficult to say that in a sentence.

                        So, you know, when Kate Winslet’s up there doing her stuff—she’s amazing anyway, but it’s kind of hard. I think it’s harder to do it the other way. I don’t know.

Panel:              You had mentioned diversity.

Reshma:          Yes.

Panel:              And there’s a lot of Indian actors on TV now. But there’s a NBC show that’s coming out in the fall.

Reshma:          Yes, Outsourced. I know two people there.

Panel:              Yeah. How do you feel about that?

Reshma:          I’m excited that there’s more opportunities. I haven’t seen the show. I think it’ll be really funny. I just don’t want them to make fun of Indians. I think that’s the fine line. But, hopefully, it’ll be more of a—I don’t know. How do I feel? I think it’s great that there are roles out there for Indians to be really considered for.

                        I was talking to somebody the other day and I just hope that there’s a time that it doesn’t matter what you look like. You know, you just go in for Sara, you know, the main girl. I think we’re a bit a ways from that though.

                        I don’t know, I’m excited about Outsourced, I have two friends who are on that show and I’m excited for them, and I hope that it does really well. I just really hope that it is done in a way that it is not just, “Let’s watch Indians and see how funny they are,” and make—you know, and I just hope it’s not that. But we’ll see.

Panel:              What’s the role that you really wanted but they just couldn’t quite bend it to accommodate you?

Reshma:          What is a role that I want to play? You mean on TV or a movie or something?

Panel:              Something that we would we have known, that we could try to picture you in it? Was there a lead on any other network show or cable show that you would–?

Reshma:          Let me think. Bend me to it. Well, that’s the thing, I think I’m bending it more. Like what is it—the Nikita show. I don’t know if it was picked up but–.

Panel:              Maggie Q.

Reshma:          Yeah, it’s a lead who’s not.

Reshma:          Yeah, I think it’s changing. So, let me think about that but a main girl role that would not necessarily be, you know—look—listen, I love my work now. I think Divya is cool and she’s strong and she’s everything that I would want to be. I’m saying, you know, from past experiences. It’s always picking it up and seeing the nerd. And I’m going, “I don’t look like a nerd. That sucks. I am five foot seven! [indiscernible] five two.”

                        So, it’s great that it’s changing. So, the more and more it does, and the more and more Nikita’ can to be played by someone who’s just a really good actor and hot, the better, you know.

Panel:              Speaking of the accessories and dressing for the show, what’s become kind of the quintessential Hampton wardrobe? What have you learned [inaudible]?

Reshma:          White pants. Oh, my gosh, I am in so many white pants and it’s so distressing because however svelte or in shape you think you are, white pants hide nothing. So, I feel like that is—Divya’s major color though. I’m in major color this year.

                        Caroline who is our costume designer is amazing. Her stuff is amazing. It’s just the white pants are a nightmare, which is–.

Panel:              What’s your secret to keeping them clean, making them look good on your body?

Reshma:          What is the secret? I don’t think I found that secret yet.

Panel:              Keeping them clean or making your body look good?

Reshma:          Well, keeping them clean, I just keep out of the way of people and keep that duffle coat on. So, it touches nothing. Looking fabulous in them, I’m on the road, I try everyday. Every day’s a new day with the white pants. But we’re doing okay right now, you know.

Panel:              Where would you like to see Divya go from here in character development-wise?

Reshma:          I think it’s where it’s going. It’s that she’s not just this overly put together really smart girl. It’s that there’s a huge dimension to her that is her battle of becoming who she is. I think that’s why she gets along with Hank so well. Hank never judges her. Hank is okay with her being whatever she wants to be. And I think that’s the first person she’s ever really met that is really okay with her wanting to be a PA, wanting to be a medical person. And that’s where it’s going, that you’re going to see different sides of her and her relationship.

                        And I think her stuff with Evan is going to grow and become funnier and—I mean there’s some really funny things that are going to be happening that you’re going to be seeing. Jill and her actually becoming new friends. We have actual scenes this year together that we’re bonding and learning about each other.

Panel:              What advice would you give to an aspiring actor or actress?

Reshma:          Study.

Panel:              Study?

Reshma:          I’d say go train. Never just rely on—I think for anything, right? Like all you guys, you had to study. You had to like pay your dues and get to where you have gotten or where you want to go.

Panel:              Or digital media.

Reshma:          Well, digital media. Well, whatever else you want to do. I think in life you just have to work really hard. And I think actors sometimes think that if you’re really, really beautiful, you’re set, and you might be. But I just would say to any actor, “You’re going to be opposite someone, and that person is going to sit there and going to know whether—how—you know.”

Panel:              Usually, when you watch a movie, they make it seem really easy when [inaudible].

Reshma:          It’s not easy. It’s really not easy. I think maybe it’s the theater side too, you know. You study. You learn your techniques. And so then when you get to a set, that’s why you get to do it so easily because you put in all the work before and then you get there. It’s not just learning lines. I wish it was. Then it would be so much easier. You’d just have to have a good memory.

                        But it’s a lot more. And I think audiences see that too. You know, the new shows that are coming up, they’re really smart, and they’re not easy scripts, you know.

                        Like Lost, for instance, Lost is over. If you really, really watch some of the scenes in Lost, they’re real scenes in there. They’re real actor-motivated wonderful scenes.

                        And I think that’s what most actors live for, to have a role like that.

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