Film & TV

Actress Tiya Sircar on ‘The Internship,’ the Google Campus, and playing Quidditch

Film & TV

Actress Tiya Sircar on ‘The Internship,’ the Google Campus, and playing Quidditch


The Onion’s generally well thought out and pretty much correct argument for The Internship’s serious potential to be the hit of 2005 came a little too late for our interview with Tiya Sircar. Realistically, Sircar, who plays a Google intern alongside an all-male nerd-pack led by Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, wouldn’t have gone and bitten off the hand that feeds, which is understandable. Not everyone can pull off Jennifer Lawrence’s calculated brazenness. But after chatting up the 23 year-old actress, we were pleased to find PR-training hadn’t shaken her personality to a husk. Besides the open but closed chatter every up-and-comer with an endgame has, Sircar won our regards through graceful failure. In the presence of a studio-sized set, Vaughn and Wilson, and everyone else making the biggest film of her career, Sircar was forced to play Quidditch. The actress, who relayed her lackluster ability of catching a ball with two hands, let alone one, the other attached to a broom, released a painful sigh when we brought up the scene. Of course, the frustration of reliving gym class in Hollywood’s presence didn’t make it to the screen. Instead all that was evident was Sircar’s welcome screen presence and ability to go toe to toe with the big dogs of whatever era. Here we discuss the torture match, seeing Google up close, and the importance of being socialized before getting into “the Biz.”

I heard you went off and did some non-kosher illegal exploring of Google when you were on their campus. What was that like?
We did. I’m not sure if that was a sanctioned trip or not. I have a feeling it was not. But we felt like we couldn’t pass up that opportunity because how many people get to go to that place. It’s like Willy Wonka. [Laughs] It was sort of unbelievable. We would come upon things that were like, Is this for real? Of course, the free food is one thing people know about, and that’s all legit. You just walk into this fresh-pressed juicery and you can walk out with whatever you’d like. There’s dance studios where you can take a salsa dancing class in the middle of the day. We also happened upon a bowling alley in one of the Google buildings in the middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday and there was about 15 to 20 Google employees drinking beer and bowling.

How authentic did they make the film?
A lot of it was technical details. Shawn Levy [the director] said that every computer screen that you see, even in passing, whatever’s happening on the computer screen is legit. It’s not just a screen saver. They had technical guys on set making sure that that was real stuff that was visible. Also, for us, there are scenes where I’m feverishly writing code to win one of the challenges. Of course I had no idea what I was writing, but we wanted to make sure that what I was writing was accurate and actual code and makes sense to somebody out there. That was a bit of a challenge.

How much code did you have to memorize?
Just enough to write it down. I also had lines and a scene to be in. I was just like, okay, make sure there are five commas after this capital F. I mean, it’s all Russian to me, but there were people to make sure that it was legit.

You were the only girl holding it down in Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson’s intern crew–what did you have to do to get the role?
Well, I worked really hard. I have to say it was a kind of interesting experience because it started out pretty normal. You meet the casting director and she likes you and she says, oh you need to meet Sean the director. I was in Turkey of all places and they were emailing me and saying, can you be here Wednesday? And I was like, no, not really. Oh my god. What do I do? I want this job so badly. But luckily the timing all worked out and the next thing I know, I’m jet lagged having just returned from this two week trip and they’re like, Hey, we want to do a chemistry test with you and Vince Vaughn, which is thrilling but absolutely terrifying, because you’ve got pages of material. Basically, it was kind of like an improv test to make sure that you can hang with someone as skilled at improv as Vince Vaughn.

What kind of prep did you have to do for that Quidditch scene?
[Laughs] My least favorite scene in the entire movie. Once I saw the finished product, I was like, Hey, that looks pretty badass. Making it, however, oh man. I fully thought that we were going to have body doubles. And then we’re there and it’s August in Atlanta. And they’re like, Alright let’s do some scrimmages. And I’m like, Wait, what? So it was rough. I felt bad that we had to do so many takes. I don’t want to give it away, but at first, we’re supposed to be bad and when I was supposed to be bad, I was great. I’m really bad at Quidditch. Then I started having to complete passes and make plays. They had to do quite a few takes with me. I felt bad. It was sweltering hot and they’re like, Alright we have to do it again, she didn’t catch that one that time.

I wonder what the casting for professional Quidditch body doubles would look like. Would it be that specific?
You know, Hollywood’s crazy.

When was your “aha” moment with acting?
I personally feel like I’ve had it easy in a way, because I’ve always known that this is what I’ve wanted to do. So it was never a question. I have known from a very early age, which makes it easier, because it’s such a difficult road and if there was any part of me that wanted to do something else, I’d probably just do something else.

As someone who’s done the teen acting thing and come out of the same CW-Disney grind, what’s your opinion of the Amanda Bynes situation? Is it performance art?
I don’t know her personally so I wouldn’t begin to make any assumptions of what her situation is. But I’ve worked with or met many sort of Hollywood “It Girls” that have been in the business for a really long time. It’s a crazy thing. I feel like these girls, they start working as professional actors when they’re three or six or nine. And it’s strange. I think some come out really well-rounded and some come out of it—I can’t really blame them for being a little bit off. They don’t get socialized like you and I were, socialized with peers my same age, learning how to be an adult with people who were not yet adults either. And here you are a child actor and you are expected to act like a professional. And you’re treated like an adult in many ways except you’re not an adult. You’re making these decisions as an adult when you’re far too young to be given that responsibility. I think if a child actor ended up being a little bit screwy in the head, I wouldn’t blame them. They’re a product of this crazy system. So I wish her well. I don’t really know what the deal is there, but I don’t like the whole laughing at something like a train wreck.

What’s next?
I’m going to Seattle to shoot a movie with Kiera Knightley, Sam Rockwell and Chloe Moretz called Laggies. It’s about Kiera Knightley’s character going on a girl trip. I’m kind of just popping in to do a cameo for fun. We’ll see what happens next.