Meet Danny Pudi
What's your personal story?
The Tiger Hunter is about pursuing your dreams, but beyond that it's about paying attention to the little things and staying true to yourself. Oh, and the power of bellbottoms. The character I play, Sami, journeys from his village in India to America to achieve greatness and impress the love of his life (Karen David). I stumble quite a bit during the journey. Thankfully some wise and hilarious friends (i.e. Rizwan Manji) pick me up and convince me that I don't need to pretend to be anyone other than myself.
What's the story you intend to tell in "The Tiger Hunter"?
As soon as I read the script I wanted to help tell this story. It felt very familiar to me because in many ways it is my parents' story. My father immigrated to Chicago from India in the 1970s and my mother immigrated from Poland in the 1970s. Lena Khan wrote a script that celebrates the immigrant experience and gave me a chance to ride a moped in India. I'm very grateful for that!
What challenges and successes did you face telling this story?
This is an independent film which can be full of challenges. Bigger films often have larger budgets, more filming time, multiple cameras, etc. We didn't have those luxuries but we did have a super creative & committed team. So people showed up prepared for the scenes and were flexible when necessary. Our Direct of Photography was able to adjust shots on the fly when daylight was an issue, the cast was incredible at making last minute adjustments, and Lena & Megha (Director & Producer) had incredible energy & structure which kept us moving quickly. One of the benefits of being an independent film is that we had freedom to tell our story the way we wanted to tell it. For example, Lena and I met before almost every scene and frequently changed lines in order to keep things fresh and true to the story she was telling.
Your career has covered everything from performing in store front theaters to national television. What advice for creative and professional success can you share with Asian American actors?
I loved the Chicago Arts community and all the opportunities it gave me. Even when I failed! I took classes at The Second City, and I performed for many years with Stir-Friday Night which gave me a chance to try things and helped me find my voice. My advice to anyone is find a place to get on stage and study people (both actors and non-actors). The great thing about Chicago is the access you have to the theatre and comedy communities.
Any other comments?
You can watch an amazing show at the Steppenwolf, the Goodman or Second City and then jump on stage later that night with a group of buddies and give it a shot. Go now!