Romantic Lead Rushi Kota Details The Surreal Experience Of Joining Hallmark - Exclusive Interview

Since starting his acting career, Rushi Kota has had several roles you may have seen in projects such as "Never Have I Ever" as Prashant, along with "Grey's Anatomy" and "Grey's Anatomy B Team" as Dr. Vik Roy. However, he's taking on a different kind of project and making his romantic lead debut in Hallmark's "Make Me a Match."

"Make Me a Match" premieres Jun 24, 2023, as part of Hallmark's June Weddings collection. Kota stars in the film as Bhumesh, alongside Eva Bourne as Vivi. The pair meet when Vivi seeks the expertise of Raina, an Indian matchmaker, for advice on the data-driven matchmaking app designed by the company that employs her. Working with Raina, Vivi meets her son, the spontaneous and charismatic Bhumesh, who starts to change the way she sees romance.

During an exclusive interview with The List, Kota discussed how different this film was from other work he's done. He shared some of the biggest challenges as well as his favorite parts of taking on such a different character. Kota also opened up about his journey with acting and how he went from automotive engineering to where he is today.

His experience playing the romantic lead

What was it like for you to play the romantic lead in a Hallmark movie?

This was really cool. I don't know if it was all in the works before or not, but for me, it came out fairly quickly. This was a very exciting role, it was the romantic lead of this movie, and I don't think I've ever played anything of this magnitude so far. There were so many ups and downs for the character. It was a huge arc for the character, and that was really nice to settle into a role that I don't think I've ever had before.

What would you say was the most challenging and also the best part of the role?

The most challenging part was the amount of words that were in this movie. When I first got the script, my brain was literally hurting, because it was a 110-page script, and almost every other page was monologue, monologue, monologue. It was a lot of words. That was the most challenging part of this role, I only had three weeks to get ready for it. I was like, "I got to put all of this into my brain as quickly as possible." 

Once I got there ... it was all shot in Vancouver. Once I got there, after the first day was done, everything felt like, "I got this." It felt very smooth throughout the process, and I was having a lot of fun on set. Everybody else was having a lot of fun on set. Everything else, all the stress, took a backseat to it.

Working with Eva Bourne

What was it like working with Eva Bourne opposite you?

She was great. We had way too much fun on set. There were many times when Heather [Hawthorn Doyle], the director, was like, "I need you guys to stop laughing so we can really get through." She [Bourne] is extremely talented, and she's so fun to be around. She has this quality where she knows how to have fun on set but also knows when to bring it right in. When the director yells "cut" or "action," she's right there with it. That was really fun to see that shift in her. I was like, "Oh yeah, that's cool." I was doing that, too, and we both were right there with each other, and there was so much chemistry between us. That was really fun.

Do you have any memorable moments from behind the scenes with her or with the rest of the cast?

There were so many ... the way this movie is structured, there were many parts to a scene. Usually, there's one scene, and there's a beginning, middle, and end, but for the purposes of the way this was written, especially during an engagement scene or a wedding scene, there were a lot of mini scenes within the scene, which made it into about a nine or 10-page scene. It was very daunting, too, those days.

I remember, during the wedding scene ... which was at the very end of the movie, we were shooting it on day three, and we had been through a couple of very exhausting days on day one and two. This day three happened to be [when] we barely had any lines. It was just us getting married. I remember having so much fun on that day, because you're acting and being with each other and being in the scenes, and we didn't have much to say except we're both communicating and looking at each other in the eyes. That was the most amount of fun that we had. It was a lot of days of giggles and laughter.

How his Make Me A Match character is different from past roles

How do you feel like this character compares to past roles that you've had? He is quite different.

Yeah, it's very different. First, the magnitude of this role was huge, and I was able to find a lot of nuances within the character of really seeing it within the scene, but also taking a macro, objective view of the whole picture and figuring out, "Okay, where can I go high, or where can I go low, and which different parts?"

That was really cool to explore a character from beginning to end, whereas, in other parts that I've had, they were a little smaller. Either I'm on there for a day or two or three, and [they] didn't have that much of an arc for those characters. It was fun to explore, like, "Where can we push, and then where can we pull back? And then what is the end goal that we're trying to get to, and what is our journey, and how can we hit all of these different moments by trying to get to the end goal?"

You've done a lot of varied roles, as far as genre. You've been in horror and romance and comedies. Is there any genre that you're the most interested in, or do you try to keep it fresh like that?

I honestly wish I had a choice in the genre. I've done a sitcom, I've done drama, horror, comedy. The other one I really want to do is action. I want to get physical with a role. I see where the wind blows and then see what happens.

I now have been doing this for a little while, and now I'm like, "I'm really interested in the character, in the role, even if it's small, even if it's big." I'm like, "Okay, what's really different about this..." whatever genre it's going to be, and I want to explore that a lot more.

Going from mechanical engineering to acting

Before you decided to go into acting, you were planning on going into engineering. What was it like making that decision to actually pursue acting?

It was a whole quarter-life crisis ... an early 20s crisis, for sure. I spent four years of my life studying engineering, automotive engineering, and then thought, "I don't really want to do that anymore." I remember having a lot of questionable inner monologues with myself of, "Oh man, am I doing the right thing? Is this fun? Is this going to be lucrative? What's this going to be?" It was just a lot of questions that were yet to be answered when I was starting out.

Was acting something you always wanted to do but talked yourself out of, or was that more of a later-on thing that came to you?

Yeah. I dabbled in acting in high school and community theater in high school and before college, but I don't think I ever saw that as something that it was for me because ... I came from a more traditional background of, "You've got to get a good job and you've got to make money." I don't think the arts were the way to go for that. I definitely talked myself out of it. I'm trying to think. It was really a blip on the radar while I was in college.

When I was getting my undergrad, I was dabbling in modeling a little bit. I was doing this one summer job where I met this one guy who was an actor, and he was working a temp job at the same company. We had a conversation, and I wanted to pick his brain of, "Okay, if this was something that I wanted to do, how would I do it? How would I go about it?" He gave me all the tidbits of information that I stored away and didn't really use until after graduating.

His upcoming role in Dumb Money

You're also in another upcoming film, "Dumb Money," that's coming out soon. What can you tell us about that project and what it was working with the cast? It was a lot of people like Seth Rogen, Pete Davidson, and Shailene Woodley.

I'm so excited for this movie. It's about the whole Reddit revolution that took place in late 2020 and early January 2021.

With GameStop, right?

Yeah, when ultimately GameStop, which was a nothing stock, was trading at somewhere under $10, and then at its height, it hit about $450, and it cost these hedge funds tens of billions of dollars. It's about this whole David versus Goliath story. It's got an incredible cast. I'm very lucky and honored and grateful to be a part of that cast. That was really cool.

I got to play Baiju Bhatt, who is one of the CEOs of Robinhood, and Sebastian Stan was playing Vlad Tenev, the other CEO of Robinhood. All my scenes were opposite Sebastian Stan, so that was a freaking dream come true. Every day on set, I was like, "Oh my God." I was calling my wife, and I was like, "Babe, I can't believe this is happening right now! I'm with Sebastian Stan. Oh my God. Oh my God." Meanwhile, I'm on set, I'm like, "Yo, what's up, bruh? Everything's cool."

You're like, "This is no big deal. I do this all the time."

Totally. It was internal. Inside, I was like [shaking]. There was Craig Gillespie, who was directing it. He directed "I, Tonya," he directed "Pam & Tommy," all these really cool movies, and his directing style was really cool. There were so many covering shots that we were doing. There were shots [where] he was talking about how "I need you to feel him right now. I just need you to feel him right now." I'm like, "Whoa. I never had a director tell me that before."

I got to put on a wig. They painted a whole beard on me. It was a whole character transformation and a lot of physical characteristics of what was going into the character.

Everyone on set was saying how much ... they could be gassing things up, but who knows. They were saying how much chemistry Sebastian Stan and I had playing these two characters. I was like, "Yeah!" It's coming out [in September], and I'm pretty sure it's coming out in theaters, and I'm very excited about it.

"Make Me a Match" premieres June 24 at 8:00 p.m. ET on the Hallmark Channel.

This interview has been edited for clarity.