Ike Barinholtz Talks “The Mindy Project,” Cult Followings, and Shaq’s Dick

We also subject him to the same 10 questions we always ask everyone.

Do you think your character of Morgan Tookers became more of a complete person as the first season of The Mindy Project progressed?

I think so. When you first meet him he’s so crazy. He’s got this giant tattoo and he’s a crazy person. But then he started appearing more and more, and he started being more human. Especially when he was doing dumb things and you started to see the ramifications of that, like when he mailed Danny’s letter to [his ex-wife] and Danny [Chris Messina] had to fire him. The good thing about him is that at his core, he’s an idiot. So even though he does have some humanity, he’s a moron.

How do you keep a moronic character from just being a moron?

It’s playing small moments real. He may have dumb moments, but if you play them with a little bit of humanity, a little bit of soul, if you show them getting embarrassed, it helps. We often pull from our real life and we pitch them for the show and they end up on the show. There’s an episode [last season] where everyone’s doing a pull-up contest, and this really happened to me. I was working for the Obama campaign in 2008 and I went into a morning meeting at the campaign office and there was a pull-up bar by the door. There were probably 15 people in the room and I remember I walked up to the bar and one of the guys said to me, “That holds up to 220.” At the time I was a solid 210. I did a pull-up and I instantly pulled the bar down, fell down to the ground, smashed the bar onto my leg, and as I hit the ground, I farted. I was so embarrassed that I got up and ran out of the room. So when I had Morgan do that same thing on the show, he was so embarrassed and so hurt that you can’t help but have sympathy for this creature. I think that goes a long way. If you feel for the person, then that helps.

What’s coming up for Morgan on the second season?

Mindy comes back from Haiti and he is very excited because he is her biggest fan. Episode four is a big episode for Mindy and Morgan – it’s actually called “Magic Morgan.” Mindy’s going through a really rough time and he tries to help her get through that. He does that the best way he knows: By showing his penis to her. She gets really angry at him and says some pretty mean things and hurts his feelings and he files a lawsuit against her. It really tests their friendship. Otherwise he does what he does best – he helps Mindy on her adventures, and occasionally annoys the other doctors. He basically messes things up in a loving way.

Morgan seems to be everyone’s favorite character on the show. Have you been surprised by the cult following he’s earned?

Yes! When I heard that, I assumed cult following meant my fans want to do a mass suicide. And then I was told, “No, it’s a good thing. It means people are very dedicated to it.” I was thrilled. I’ll be in Whole Foods and nice women and men will come up to me and be like, “I love your character on the show! He’s so stupid!” It’s nice. I feel like a cult leader. I feel power for the first time in my life.

Should anyone be concerned about that?

At the end of the day people like the show, but not enough to lock themselves in a compound and let me have sex with all of them and then kill them. But there’s probably a dozen that would do that, which is pretty cool. Maybe by next season there will be like 30 people. I’ll just keeping doing the show until I have a private army and I will rule all of you.

As a writer on the show as well as an actor, do you wind up writing a lot of your own character’s lines

Mindy writes a lot for Morgan. And my partner David Stassen and I are always on the set. We’ve been writing together for like 20 years, so through shorthand you can come up with stuff. You can just say “Scotty Pippen!” and I’ll get the reference right away and incorporate that in the next line. I think all the writers enjoy writing for Morgan and I think a big reason for that is I’m physically stronger than all of them. I mean, they’re fucking writers. They’re not a bunch of bodybuilders so they know that if a script comes out and I don’t have at least five or six killer lines I’m going to kick their ass.

It seems like every day The Mindy Project announces a new guest star for this season. Can you rattle off a list for us?

Let me see here: We’ve got James Franco, Chloe Sevigny, The National, Ben Feldman from Mad Men, Timothy Olyphant, Kim Jong-Un, George Bush’s second daughter, Jimmy Carter, Estelle Getty’s corpse, Ellie Kemper, Kate Bosworth. I’m mixing up real ones and fake ones, by the way.

Do you have any other projects in the works right now?

Yes! There is a film called Neighbors and it comes out May 19. I’m really the star of it, but Seth Rogen and Zac Efron play smaller parts. Zac Efron and Seth Rogen go to war [against each other] and I play Seth’s best friend, who’s in a really, really, really bad place in his life and does really horrible things. The trailer just came out. If you freeze frame it three different times you can see my face. A lot of people thought when they saw this dude with shredded abs that it was me. I was like, “No that was Zac Efron.” I look more like Nora Ephron.

How long have you had that Efron/Ephron joke in the can?

I swear to God on my life I just thought of it! I’m really glad it was with someone who was recording it and not just another one of my dumbass friends who doesn’t pay attention to me. I couldn’t be happier.

Photo Courtesy of Fox Broadcasting Company


What is the last thing you had to apologize for?

I flew on an airplane yesterday with a three-month-old baby. So I was apologizing for the loud crying and the poo smell. And also for the baby.

What is your favorite curse word/phrase?

It’s an old-timey political phrase. It’s “I’ll tell ya, President Andrew Johnson is a real dirty cocksucker.” You have to use the whole phrase, otherwise it doesn’t work.

What’s the worst hangover you’ve ever had?

This weekend was up there. I went to a friend’s wedding and I was over-served beers. Also someone gave me some form of an herb and I wasn’t prepared for the combination of the two. I was incredibly drunk, so much so that I think I was a causing a scene. There’s nothing like taking two flights when you have a horrible hangover. It’s bad when people can see actual alcohol seeping out of your disgusting pores. And meanwhile I had a crying baby. It was rough.

What was your first car?

My first car was a 1999 red Mazda Protege. I had it for maybe five or six years and I was driving it one day and pulled into a car wash. The guy at the car wash goes, “Yo man are you the guy from Mad TV?” I was like “Yeah!” And he goes “Why the fuck are you driving this car, homes?”

Do you have a scar that tells a story?

I have two Inigo Montoya-style scars on either side of my penis from a swordfight many years ago.

Do you have a party trick?

I do this thing at every party: I go to a party, I stand around for like 45 minutes and then I turn to my wife and say, “I think we should go home.” And then we leave and then I wake up the next morning and say to my wife, “We don’t go out anymore.” It’s a great trick.

What is the biggest thing you’ve ever put in your mouth?

Shaq’s dick.

What is one thing to remember in a fist fight?

Really try to cover your face because that’s the money.

Who was the last person to see you naked?

The last person to see me naked was Rocky Ford, he’s our key grip on our show. He’s basically the guy who is in charge of lighting and stuff, and works with the electric department. He was at the craft services table getting a cup of coffee early this morning and I walked up to him and I was like, “Hey Rocky,” and I showed him my dick. He punched me in the face really hard – so I didn’t follow my own rule at all.

Finish this sentence: If I ruled the world for a day, I would…

Have all the basketball hoops lowered so I could dunk. I’m like 6’3” so I would need them lowered to about 6’4”. Thank you so much for making that happen. I don’t know who you talk to about that, but I’m looking forward to it.