With Annet Mahendru, there is so much more than meets the eye. The witty actress speaks six different languages, studied competitive martial arts and does comic improv. She’s best known for her role on The Americans. Now, the multifaceted actress can be seen in her new hit show The Romanoffs on Amazon Prime. We chatted with Annet Mahendru about her character, Elena, the message of the show and her advice to people who are looking to pursue acting.
Cliché: What attracted you or inspired you to want to consider acting as your career path?
Annet Mahendru: When I was 11 years old I went to visit a film set and I couldn’t believe what they did to be able to create a real experience. I thought it was magic. I still do!
How do you feel studying in acting school helped prepare you for a successful career in Hollywood?
School like anything else is an experience to help us be comfortable with ourselves so we can better understand the world we live in. Everything I ever studied expanded my ability to adapt to my circumstances and also taught me how I can mold them to fit in. This field of work is completely unpredictable, so I rely on my whole life experience to make sense of it constantly.
How would you say the creative process working on The Romanoffs was different from previous shows you have appeared on?
This episode was a lot like making a film, so that was quite different than being on other shows. Matthew Weiner approaches his stories quite thoroughly: from his choices of music to location, everything becomes a character in them. There is really no room for a missing moment, so our creative time together was very saturated.
Can you describe your character, Elena Evanovich? Do you relate to her at all?
Elena is that kind of woman who leaves people guessing her game. I’m certain she’s been through many of life’s trials and has come out the other end pretty darn steady. She hustles any way she can to make sure kids get a chance at a comfortable home life with parents who are able to take care of them. She knows how much that means first-hand and will do anything in her power to provide that for others. Elena was also loosely based on a real person who helped the writers of this episode, Maria and Andre Jacquemetton, adopt their daughter nearly 20 years ago in Vladivostok. So I have much respect for this character. She has definitely inspired my own transition into motherhood with her blunt confidence. Onset Elena was enabling the couple in their quest of becoming a family and at home, she was championing my husband and I.
What was your relationship like on set working with the cast members? What were some of the challenges and obstacles that you were faced with on set and how did you manage to overcome them?
Jay R. Ferguson and Kathryn Hahn were extremely fun to play alongside with and also gave me some rocking working-parent advice. It was my first time so far away from home as a new mother.
We were all pretty jetlagged and that first week was tough. The baby wasn’t sleeping and I missed him terribly. I’d cry going to work. So it was nice having a couple veteran parents on set who were like, “Yep we’ve been there and we survived.”
What’s the message of the show and what do you hope viewers take away when watching the show?
It’s all about the love we have for one another at the end. The distance we are willing to travel to understand each other, and what actually happens when we get there.
Why should people watch The Romanoffs if they haven’t already?
It’s quite a beautiful show. Especially now with the holidays, it’s a perfect time to watch something so unconventionally family-oriented.
What has been the most memorable moment in your career so far?
The most memorable moment in my career so far was when I starred on The Americans. I thought I was so fearless before playing Nina. Then I really dove inside myself to discover all these inhibitions, and now I feel fearless again, until the next role.
What advice would you give people who are looking to pursue acting?
The advice that I would give people who are looking to pursue acting is to know that it’s going to affect you. That it will strip you in every way. But that’s what you are after.
Which actors and actresses are you most inspired by? And why?
One of the actresses that I am most inspired by is Deepika Padukone. Her role in Chennai Express made me fall in love with how quirky she is. It was a hilarious movie. I am also inspired by Shah Rukh Khan who also stars in Chennai Express. Love how crazed he always appears by life in his work! Rachel Weisz is also a familiar soul. I admire her story choices.
When looking back on your career who was the person who helped guide you to get you to where you are now?
My husband, Louie Gibson, who is a writer and director. He has been there from scratch. We met on his thesis film and then we got to experience each other’s career breaks, too. He’s been a true partner in all of it.
What are some things you enjoy doing when you’re not acting?
I love to rollerblade. It feels so silly and freeing. I don’t get to do it that often but when I do, I feel unstoppable.
Are there any future projects that you are working on or will be working on?
Depending on when this article comes out, I may be able to tell you, or not.
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“The Romanoffs” Actress Annet Mahendru Draws On Her Relationship To Her Character and More. Featured Image Credits: Ginny Tucker