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Everything to Know About Never Have I Ever Star Anirudh Pisharody

·7-min read
Anirudh Pisharody
Anirudh Pisharody

Lara Solanki/Netflix

Never Have I Ever has a new heartthrob in season 3.

In the latest season of the Netflix series, Anirudh Pisharody joins the cast as Des, a new love interest for Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan).

As a South Asian actor, Pisharody tells PEOPLE it was "amazing" getting to work on a show that offers so much representation on screen.

"Oftentimes when you're an actor, especially a South Asian actor, most sets you're on you never get to see that many people who look like you on both the cast and crew side," he says. "So coming to work every day was just awesome."

"These opportunities are very few and far between," he continues. "I'm really happy that this [show] is there for kids who are growing up now. It'll give that next generation just a level of, 'OK, I can do this if I want to.' "

While his role as Des is sure to get the attention of fans, this isn't his first big acting role.

In fact, Pisharody has appeared in quite a few big shows since he first stepped onto the acting scene, with his most recent being Fox's hit drama 9-1-1.

From how he got started in acting to his career aspirations, learn more about the Never Have I Ever star below.

RELATED: ​​The Sweetest Photos of the 'Never Have I Ever' Cast Hanging Out In Real Life

He was born in India but grew up in Texas

In a post shared on his Facebook page, Pisharody revealed that he was born in India but grew up in Austin, Texas, noting that he had a "very quiet Southern upbringing."

He knew he wanted to act at a young age — but was hesitant to pursue it

Pisharody, 28, tells PEOPLE he first got into acting when he was in elementary school, doing various school productions, before eventually taking theater as an elective in middle school. While he was always passionate about acting — deeming himself a "theater kid" in high school — he didn't think it could be a full-time career.

"When I turned 18, my parents, who are immigrants from India, were like, 'Maybe do something that's a bit more stable,' " he explains. "Even as a kid, I never seriously took acting as something that I could do for a living. It was always kind of a hobby to me, even though I enjoyed it a crazy amount."

RELATED: Mindy Kaling Reveals Why 'Never Have I Ever' Is Ending on Netflix: 'Can't Be in High School Forever'

He studied public health in college

Before he got into acting, Pisharody attended the University of Texas at Austin where he got a degree in public health. Pisharody tells PEOPLE that after "doing the whole pre-med thing," he got a job after college, and quickly realized it wasn't for him.

I was like, 'Wow, this sucks. I'm not cut out for this,'" he recalls. He eventually went to L.A. to stay with his then-girlfriend and ended up "trying his hand at auditions" while he was there. "I [thought]: That'd be a lot of fun. I got nothing to lose." However, to his surprise, he started "getting auditions left and right."

After about six months, he decided to pursue acting full-time. "I told my parents, 'Look, I think this is really what I want to do. I don't think medicine is really for me. I just don't have the passion there. I'd love to play a doctor on TV, but I'm not doing this.' And then they were like, 'All right. Just don't half-ass it. Go full send.'"

One of his favorite actors is Christian Bale

Growing up, Pisharody tells PEOPLE he really looked up to actor Christian Bale, noting that he's seen almost every movie he's been in. "I saw Empire of the Sun when I was very little [and] I was just completely blown away by it. Then when he played Bruce Wayne [in The Dark Knight], that was just like, 'Wow.' That level of commitment, it's something that I really admire because not a whole lot of people can do that, and it really shows how passionate you are."

Similarly, he says he also looks up to Bollywood actor Aamir Khan as he is "very committed" to his craft.

"Every project he took on, there was always a really important, unique message behind it," he says. "Oftentimes as actors, we don't have a whole lot of control, but there is that control of what jobs you're able to do, the message that you try to put out with your work, and I really respect that."

Anirudh Pisharody
Anirudh Pisharody

Jill Dae/Instagram

He's married

Pisharody is married to film director Jill V. Dae. In a post shared on Valentine's Day in 2021, he revealed that they first met in a grocery store parking lot before eventually getting engaged in July 2019 and tying the knot sometime after.

He has his own production company with his wife

The couple has their own production company together called Black Velvet Films, where Dae serves as CEO and Pisharody serves as COO. Pisharody tells PEOPLE their company stemmed from the couple just trying to "stay busy" as they kicked off their careers.

"When you're just starting out and acting and directing, producing, you're not given any opportunity. You just have to go out and do it for yourself," he says. "So it really stemmed from just making content for yourself and making the vision that you have for a project really come alive because the phone just wasn't ringing, so to speak."

His role in Never Have I Ever was meant to be

Pisharody jokes that he "manifested" his role in Never Have I Ever years ago as his first big commercial was actually for Netflix and Google. As for his actual audition for Des, Pisharody tells PEOPLE that the whole process happened very quickly.

"Initially, I'll be honest, my first thought was, 'I'm way too old for this. I don't think I could realistically play a 17-year-old.' But I'm like, 'I'm going to kick myself if I don't audition. ' " After sending in his audition tape, Pisharody says that booking the role of Des happened very quickly.

"It was like a pinch me moment," he says of the casting, noting that it didn't really hit him how "big of a deal" everything was until he started filming the show. "I think because of that quickness, I really didn't have time to process anything. So I was just kind of just thrown into it. Now I'm processing it."

He has some big career goals

When it comes to his career bucket list, Pisharody already has a few dream roles in mind, including being a part of big franchises such as DC Comics, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones.

"I would love to one day play Batman," he says, adding, "I think that'd be really awesome to get to play a Sith. I think that'd be really cool, like the bad guy in a Star Wars franchise."

Aside from screen acting, he'd love to be part of a Broadway production. "That's where my roots are, theater is really where I got started, so I'd love to do Broadway," he says. "I'd love to specifically do a movie that is very musical-oriented. Like I recently saw Elvis with Austin Butler, and I was blown away. It just goes back to that commitment thing, like that is just a crazy work ethic. To get an opportunity to portray a character such as Elvis, that's amazing. I'd definitely love to do that."