Arts & Entertainment

Parvesh Cheena on ‘Sometimes I think About Dying’ and his upcoming role in ‘The Mandalorian’

PARK CITY, Utah — Parvesh Cheena went to the Sundance Film Festival years ago as a moviegoer, but his year he attended as an actor in a headlining feature film alongside Daisy Ridley.

“Sometimes I Think About Dying” follows office worker Fran (Ridley) as she ghosts through life on the dreary Oregon coast. When new to town Robert (Dave Merheje) starts working at the company, Fran is forced to question her life of isolation.

The film was described by the Sundance Institute as an “unexpected fable on the virtues of living.”

As a comedian, Cheena has acted in many comedic cartoons, movies, and TV shows, but he brings something different to the table in “Sometimes I Think About Dying.”

“In comedy, you come in for the joke, you know that there’s a bit, we want to make people laugh,” Cheena said. “Within dramas, especially like kind of a slower character study with this whole piece that ‘Something I Think About Dying’ is, that’s the word, character. You have to really build your character first.”

Cheena’s character Garrett works alongside Fran and Robert and provides interactions that many office workers will be able to relate to.

“It’s mainly their story, and Garrett’s just kind of been there,” he said. “It’s very close to my chest. I know this guy. I can play him well.”

According to Cheena, director Rachel Lambert often spoke to the film’s cast about how much of what the actors were doing on set was improv, sans the comedy.

“You give us a scenario, go talk about your dog, ask to borrow a lamp or something. It just tried to be this grounded improv,” Cheena said. “After seeing the film, I understood so much, we provide an underscore that there’s a lot of that banal chatter just basic, small talk. Nice office chat while you’re just getting a coffee and trying to go back to your desk and fill out fill out sales reports.”

Cheena hopes that audiences can take away lessons on isolation and finding love post-pandemic from “Sometimes I Think About Dying.”

“I really feel like I’m embracing all the introverts in my life, I feel like they will be seen, they will be heard and understood about why they just want to get through their day sometimes and not interact… with the pandemic in the quarantine like I think this will hit a lot of people,” he said. “Even the loneliest the most isolated people can still find connection and love. I don’t think there’s just that one person for people, that one true love. I feel like you’ve got like 20 or 30 out there in the world. Just find one of them.”

Cheena will also voice a character on season 3 of the Disney+ hit show “The Mandalorian,” which will premier on March 1.

“This is my first dip into the Star Wars universe, and that was really wonderful,” he said. “When I found out what I looked like I was thrilled, I got very excited.”

Cheena’s advice to aspiring actor’s attending the Sundance Film Festival is to keep going, keep networking, and as the old improv rule goes, always say yes.

“To any aspiring actor who made it to the film festival, kudos, I’m so glad you did. I think about that time I went my twenties with really very little reason to go other than I was just so curious, I wanted to see it,” he said. “I always say unless you are getting paid by NBC and you’re starring in a Mission Impossible 20 to say yes to your friend, because then your friend might be the next Tom Cruise, or might be the next executive who will work with you or the next director who’s got their next feature at Sundance.”

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