'Ghosts': Utkarsh Ambudkar on Being Possessed by Hetty and Outpouring of Love From Viewers (Exclusive)

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Ghosts
CBS

Ghosts is taking on possession! On Thursday's episode, CBS' delightful freshman comedy puts Utkarsh Ambudkar's Jay in unfamiliar territory as he steps into the shoes, literally, of Hetty, the hoity-toity lady of the manor played brilliantly by Rebecca Wisocky. And the timing couldn't come at a worse time for Jay and Sam (Rose McIver), who are scrambling to welcome a renowned wedding planner (guest star Enrico Colantoni) to persuade him to use their haunted estate as the setting for an upcoming wedding ceremony. What ensues is a chaotic, yet hilarious, half-hour of shenanigans and tomfoolery. 

"That's the energy that we're trying to explore. We want people to laugh. We want people to feel good. We want people to be touched and our writers do a really good job tonally of creating a fun, heartfelt environment," Ambudkar tells ET. "When we started making this show, everyone's goal was to just create a little bit of a safe space for people to go and enjoy after a long day or a long week or a long two years. We really are here to just try and relieve some stress and some tension and bring people into this crazy world where ghosts exist and some of them don't wear pants."

Ahead of Thursday's (seriously funny) episode, Ambudkar discusses the delightful response to the show, being possessed by Hetty and why he's desperate for Jean-Claude Van Damme -- yes, we're serious! -- to enter the Ghosts world.

ET: In this week's episode, you get to step into the shoes of another character. What was it like getting the script, knowing that you would be essentially playing another character or Jay's interpretation of another character?

Utkarsh Ambudkar: I was just super excited. I think Rose gets to play a little bit of the absurdity, but Jay is very much in the dark. I've enjoyed playing the straight man. Sometimes it can get a little bit confusing when sometimes it can get a little bit challenging because there's pages of dialogue that I actually don't hear. Just trying to stay engaged and be interesting as an actor can be challenging, but the chance to go off the rails and play Hetty, who, Rebecca has created such a strong character vocally, physically, spiritually. Hetty is her own person. The fact that thanks to Rebecca, I was able to jump in and embody her following the roadmap that Rebecca laid, so fun. Are you kidding me? It was a blast. It was like, oh my gosh, I had such a good time taking off the shackles of Jay and just going crazy.

What kind of preparation did you do? Did you study Rebecca's performances? Any specific nuances you noticed that served as a springboard?

We've coined it the Hetty hoot where when Hetty is, I mean, she literally has the same response to almost anything where she just goes, "Oh, oh." Once I got the hoot, then I followed the body and with the help of our director, Katie Locke O'Brien, Hetty has a very strong poise physically. Myself, Jay, my spine is made of a wet pasta noodle. I had to really make sure I was staying upright. The hands were really particular and Katie kind of helped me stay in Hetty world and away from Jay. That was it. It was just fun.

Were there any absurd moments on set?

It's just a testament to Rebecca really. She created such a specific, distinct character. With any impersonation or homage, you need really strong source material. Rebecca Wisocky just provided me with all the nuts and bolts to do my thing. Really, I mean, look, I had a blast. I had so much fun, but in terms of craft, credit has to go to her.

Did you have a favorite scene or line you got to say that you just never thought you would ever say because Jay would never say that, but Hetty would?

Every single thing that I got to say in this episode as Hetty, like asking, I don't know if it's in the script because I haven't seen the episode. You have, right?

Yes, I have.

Did they keep it in where I asked Enrico if he had any cocaine?

Yes, they did.

That was so fun, just to be like, "Hey, what's up. How you doing? Do you have any cocaine?" So satisfying. I'm eating all the crunchies and the munchies and getting to snack and putting all the candy in my pockets and taking it home after the day of work. That was very fun too.

Ghosts
CBS

Jay and Sam are trying to establish the estate's place. What can you tell us in terms of what's next for them as they try to keep this place afloat?

They got to find a way to make money. Sam and Jay need a source of income, which is the subject of a future episode that is really, really fun and also sheds a lot of light on Hetty's history as she moves forward in the show. We got to get the house ready for guests. We may or may not be having our first guests arriving soon. You might meet some of Jay's family. We have some heavyweight comedic actors coming in to guest star later on in the first season who were such a joy and pleasure to work with. We got a lot going on and then we got nine or 10 ghosts who we got to get to know better too. It's a wild, wild ride, I tell you.

You mentioned guest stars. I got excited seeing Enrico come in for this week's episode. Any others that you can share?

Enrico is incredible in this episode. He's so fun to watch. He's so well-prepared and so supportive and giving of his energy. We've gotten to work with Mark Linn-Baker. I don't think I can tell you who the guest stars are, but Rachael Harris plays [Sam]'s mom and Rachael is a beast. So good and quickly has become one of my favorite humans, but Rachael is amazing. [Sam] meets her mom and it's, oh my gosh, you want to start crying. You better watch that episode. But my main goal just between you and me is to get Jean-Claude Van Damme on the show in any capacity. He's just a hero of mine. If you could just write that in bold on the website because I'm sure he reads it. He's got to. I know Van Damme is reading this.

Totally. 

Jean-Claude, Mr. Van Damme, whatever I'm supposed to call you, listen, we're at the same agency. We know a lot of the same people. Obviously you more so than I being the star that you are, but please come to our show, Mr. Van Damme. We'd really appreciate it. If you could just write all of that, I would appreciate it.

Do you have an ideal character for him to play or would you want him to play himself?

He can do whatever he wants. I would take real-life Van Damme as a guest at the B&B. That would be so cool because if he wasn't a ghost, then I could actually talk to him. Maybe he could come like Timecop 2 or something at the B&B. You know, we'll workshop this. You and I, we'll take this offline.

We'll brainstorm, figure it out and pitch it.

I'm open to pitches you might have.

Are there any other episodes down the line that you're particularly excited about or that you want kind of people to circle?

I'm really excited about this Hetty one. I think it's really fun and beautiful to see the way that she wakes up to the world and realizes that when she was alive, there were a lot of things that she left on the table because of the time in which she grew up in and to see her realize how strong and confident and loving she can be now. She has freedom to be who she wants to be. Hopefully people will be touched by that. I think any person who's been disenfranchised can relate to what Hetty goes through in this episode.

Ghosts airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. For more, watch below.

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