Aasif Mandvi Wants You to See Him as an Actor, Not a Comedian

The actor, writer, and future director chats about playing Ben Shakir in “Evil,” becoming a father, and why you can’t put him in a box.

Snigdha Sur

January 10, 2022

Aasif Mandvi Wants You to See Him as an Actor, Not a Comedian
Aasif Mandvi (Gregg Delman)

You’ve likely grown up watching Aasif Mandvi. From Ashok in ABCD (1999) and one of the highlights of The Daily Show to blink-and-you’ll-miss-it roles in Sex and the City as an IT specialist for Carrie Bradshaw’s broken computer and Sandra Bullock’s arch-enemy Bob Spaulding in The Proposal, the 55-year-old actor has long been a comfortable presence on our screens. 

But his latest turn as Ben Shakir in CBS show Evil, a tech adviser who is more scientific than his fellow supernatural-hunters, has enraptured fans. When people say they hear voices, Ben tries to figure out if it might have been the dishwasher. When they see a ghost in hospital surveillance footage, Ben offers up the idea of deep fakes. When a Broadway showrunner starts hearing voices, Ben thinks someone has hacked his Amazon Echo-like device. “There is an explanation for everything,” Ben says in Evil’s very first episode. “But people would rather believe in ghosts and demons.”

“Science is only good for repeatable phenomena,” David Acosta, who helps the Church investigate supernatural reports and is studying to be a Catholic priest, counters. “But the most interesting parts [of life] don’t repeat.” Through the show and the three characters who span the spectrum of belief — Ben, priest-in-training David, and forensic psychologist and skeptic Dr. Kristen Bouchard — viewers get to see the demons within humans and how humans manage with the unknowable.