Moonshot is HBO Max’s delightful space rom-com starring Lana Candor and Cole Sprouse. Their characters sneak onboard a space shuttle from Earth to Mars to be reunited with their significant others. Along the way, they encounter a number of friendly faces abord the spaceship, including Sunita Deshpande’s Celeste. The role is Sunita’s first-ever feature film.
“I can’t even begin to tell you how many scripts you get as an actor where you’re like, okay, whatever. You do your audition, whatever. Max Taxe’s script… he’s going places. I have no doubt in my mind. I got the entire movie script and I sat down and read it right there,” Sunita told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY. “I cannot begin to tell you how witty his dialogue was, how clever and funny it was. They always say it’s a trope to say ‘page-turner,’ but it was a page-turner. I sat there and read the whole entire thing and I thought, oh my gosh, I really want to be part of this movie. That’s why I sent him my audition tapes. I had actually gone in for Tabby originally, and I have to say, I felt a little more drawn to Celeste. And so what I had done was I had played the role of Tabby in two very different ways because I actually thought in my head I could be a really good Celeste. I played Tabby very, very aggressive, and then I played her again very passive-aggressive, which I thought was perfect for Celeste. I sent in a bunch of improv tapes and luckily got asked to send some more callbacks and booked the role.”
Celeste and Tabby, played by Cameron Esposito, work aboard the spaceship. In one of the most poignant moments in the film, Celeste asks Tabby to marry her in front of everyone. For Sunita, being on the spaceship set was like “being on Space Mountain again. I grew up in Florida. I’m a Disney kid. It was magical. The colors and the lights and the purples and the hues. It’s amazing how the human mind can be transformed into you really believing after a while of being on set that you are in space.”
Sunita gushed Cole and Lana, best known for their roles on Riverdale and the To All The Boys trilogy, were “just lovely” to be around. “They were so, so professional. They are such good actors. They have so much going for them,” she added. Because Cole had dyed his hair blonde and wasn’t rocking his Jughead dark hair, Sunita didn’t recognize him at first!
“Cole came up to me and was like, ‘Hi, I’m Cole.’ I have terrible facial-recognition skills and his hair was blonde. So I was like, ‘Who’s this guy?’ And then I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ But the funniest part was I never tried to research people before I get on set with them because even with Michelle Buteau or Cameron Esposito, I really like to get to know people for who they are. I know if I’m researching them ahead of time, I’m going to be more focused on the credits or what they’ve done before. I prefer more to just kind of look them in the eyes and know who the person they are,” Sunita told HollywoodLife.
Through working with Michelle on Moonshot, Sunita has been “inspired” to pursue stand-up comedy after doing improv her whole life. As for what’s next, Sunita is focused on creating opportunities for herself.
“I’m a very big proponent of writing for yourself,” she explained. “The first play I wrote called A Sari For Pallavi was at the Samuel French Off-Broadway Festival. I raised $20,000 for it and made it into a short film. It’s like Black Swan meets The Parent Trap. It’s really about me fighting my Indian stereotype. It’s now playing on Alaskan Airlines. But I really feel like as a South Asian woman and a South Asian actress, you really have to write your own parts. That’s what I’ve been focusing on is really writing for myself. I have a play that I’m having read out loud very soon. It’s kind of inspired by Tracy Letts. I’m a really big fan of August: Osage County and the writing of Tracy Letts, so I’m writing a play right now that I’m reworking. That’s what I’m working on is just really writing for myself as much as I can. Because unfortunately, that’s what I was saying in the beginning, even with Max’s script, it’s not stereotyped at all. That’s what I loved Daredevil because it wasn’t stereotyped at all either. It was just a nonaccent Indian woman, but you would be really surprised how many accents they ask you for these days, even as an Indian woman. I don’t really like those types of roles. I want to be able to show who I am as a kid who grew up outside of Tampa. I know how to line dance. I like barbecue. I love country music. So there are parts of me that don’t really get to be shown unless I write it myself.”