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'Palm Springs' actor Tongayi Chirisa calls response to film "surreal," addresses character's "conspiracy theories"

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Hulu/Christopher Willard(NEW YORK) — Rising star Tongayi Chirisa [TAHN-gai chee-REE-sah] says it was a “joy” to play his “fun-loving… life-of-the-party” character Jake in the new Hulu romantic comedy, Palm Springs.

The film, which follows comedian Andy Samberg as Nyles, a wedding guest who somehow manages to get himself stuck in a time-loop, was a rare opportunity for Chirisa to work with someone he personally admires.

“I love Andy Samberg’s comedy,” Chirisa tells ABC Audio. “And I think it’s just kind of fits in well with my style of what I deem to be funny.”

Even though playing a quirky character was a welcomed experience for the Zimbabwean actor, Chirisa isn’t at all surprised that fans still have many questions surrounding Jake — including his use of the word “shukran,” which means ‘thanks’ in Arabic. 

“I think the obvious is going to be a lot of people coming up with conspiracy theories,” Chirisa says. “But, when I first got this script, Jerry is actually adopted. So, that’s a word that he uses from his native country…. Uganda, or something like that.”

“[T]hat obviously stayed in the script,” he continues. “But the explanation or a little bit of the background…got chopped out.”

Conspiracy theories aside, Chirisa says the fans’ response to the film and his character has been humbling.

“I think I’m still getting used to it,” he says, “because a lot of times it’s just my friends are like, ‘Oh, man, we saw your movie. That was great. That was fun.'” 

“But to see fans of Andy… responding to this film… and then more particularly, to you know the character that I played, is kind of a surreal,” he adds. 

Palm Springs is now streaming on Hulu.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpBLtXduh_k&w=640&h=360]

By Candice Williams
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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