Playing somebody else on screen is the best part of being an actor, says actor Roger Narayan

Actor Roger Narayan thinks acting is living. “I get to live the lives of so many people. My work is all fun and play. But, the challenge is to be natural and still embody a character who is very different from you,” he says. Playing varied roles, he says, helps him understand and empathise with people.

Roger, who is based out of Los Angeles, is now set to play the lead in a Tamil film, a psychological action thriller, which is currently being shot at Kodaikanal. “It’s not a preachy film but still touches upon a societal thought, and is an entertainer. It’s directed by a newcomer. More details of the film are kept under wraps,” he says.

An engineering graduate from BITS Pilani, Roger is trained in theatre at the American Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T). Born in Chennai, he grew up in Bangalore and did theatre at Ranga Shankara and Chitrakala Parishath. Roger is clued in to the developments in the Tamil film industry and says a number of recent films such as Pizza, Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom and Moodar Koodam offer variety, and that the Tamil audience is always appreciative of innovative ideas. He wants to be seen in more Tamil films.

A good script, his character and the scope for performance it offers, is all that matters, he says. That’s why he was seen in a number of Indie films such as Hola Venky! (a dramedy), Flawless (action thriller), The Test (romantic comedy) and Quest of Alchemy (science fiction). “Indie films work on a tight budget but give you ample space to explore creativity.”

Roger’s upcoming Hollywood projects include HotBot (set for theatrical release in 2015), a comedy about a female robot, in which he co-stars with Danny Masterson of the famous That 70s Show. “I play the scientist who controls and repairs the robot,” he says.

The actor has also given his voice for the Indian penguin in Happy Feet 2, and for multiple Indian characters (priest, chauffeur and so on) in Eat, Pray, Love. “I played a number of voice characters for the Anil Kapoor episode in Mission Impossible IV: Ghost Protocol set in Bangalore.”

Exploring varied genres

He started his career as a child actor and has so far explored a variety of genres from comedy and drama to thrillers. He was also one of the producers of the film Clay that did the rounds at the Cannes Film Festival 2013. “I play the lead too. The story has a meditative appeal and deals with the healing of a person who loses his spouse. It was made in English, but the characters are Indian. They speak Bengali, Hindi and English,” he says.

Talking about his roles in popular American Television series, he says, “In the U.S. TV serials are not restricted to fights between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, it offers high quality entertainment.” He was seen in a guest star role on NCIS: Los Angeles opposite Chris O’Donnell and LLCoolJ where he plays a sophisticated Afghan businessman Ali. Other series include Weeds (SHOWTIME) opposite Kevin Nealon, and Castle (ABC) opposite Stana Katic of Quantum of Solace. He has worked opposite Betty White in The Bold and The Beautiful (CBS) and with Neil Patrick Harris in How I Met Your Mother (CBS). He was also a part of House MD (FOX).

He now looks forward to his next Hollywood feature film where he gets to perform with an Oscar-winning actor. It is a well-known story about an academician set in Europe.

When he is not acting, he takes off on his Cessna 172. “I have 55 hours of flying a Cessna. Though I have flown mostly in California, I want to get my licence and explore New York, Texas, Washington…all the beautiful places.”