Image Source: Getty / Michael Tran
In our Q&A series POPSUGAR Crush, we get to know some of our favorite celebs’ more intimate details — from their first celebrity crush to their best love advice. This month, we’re crushing on “Never Have I Ever” actor Michael Cimino.
Michael Cimino may have made a big impression on Maitreyi Ramakrishnan‘s Devi in “Never Have I Ever”‘s fourth and final season, but he still hasn’t found a way into the cast’s “family group chat.” Although he doesn’t mind since he can at least say he’s worked on a Mindy Kaling project, despite never actually meeting her.
Believe it or not, Cimino wasn’t an avid viewer of the Netflix teen dramedy until he boarded it early last year — albeit he’s known Darren Barnet (who plays Paxton) “for a long-ass time.” In “Never Have I Ever,” the 23-year-old trades in the sweet teen persona he’s known for in “Love, Victor” for another trope: hot bad boy Ethan, who, of course, captures Devi’s attention (and more). And though Cimino agrees his character is “not at all” like his personality IRL, he welcomed the challenge to portray someone new.
“It’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen, and that’s just that.”
“In ‘Love, Victor,’ it’s not that I’m exactly Victor, but [he] was so much closer to home for me and Ethan was so not that,” Cimino explains to POPSUGAR. “So it was really fun to just do a completely different character.”
According to the actor, we have Kaling to thank for him being the new handsome face to join “Never Have I Ever.” “I think Mindy saw really liked my [audition] tape, which was awesome… and crazy. I’ve never actually met Mindy in person yet but she was the reason why I got onto the show,” Cimino shares. He came close to meeting her on set one day but arrived “right after she left,” and missed her again after she skipped season four’s premiere in solidarity with the Writers Guild of America strike. Still, Cimino’s optimistic. “It’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen, and that’s just that.”
Image Source: Netflix
Cimino can’t recall the exact description he received for his “Never Have I Ever” role. “It was something like broody skater kid or something like that,” he says. But knows he brought his own interpretation with his hilarious audition. “My tape was honestly so funny because it was the scene where I’m washing the car. I’m like, ‘You know what? I’m going to pull out all the props,’ and I did. . . . Ethan takes off his shirt and starts wiping [the car] with his shirt. So I literally was like boom, I took my shirt off. It was so fun.”
Luckily for Cimino, Kaling liked his tape enough to give him a semi-pivotal role in her show’s final season. “I think sometimes when you allow yourself to just take risks, people appreciate it,” he adds. “Sometimes they don’t but, you know, sometimes it makes your tapes stand out.”
“I can’t really talk too much about it but I will say that this next job that I’m going to do combines so many of my different passions and I’m so freaking excited.”
Cimino admits being part of “Never Have I Ever” was a different experience than he was used to with his three-season Hulu series. “It was so much more fast-paced because it’s very comedy, comedy, comedy, so it’s super fast-paced. They’re rolling, they’re really quick moving, and they would shoot a lot of pages every day,” he explains. “So that was honestly a different vibe for me, but I really enjoyed it.”
Though he felt like the new kid joining “Never Have I Ever,” especially since much of the cast has been there from the beginning, Cimino says he didn’t have a chance to be nervous around them. “It would’ve been intimidating if everyone wasn’t so nice if that makes any sense,” he shares. “I just felt super welcomed as soon as I came, and obviously that doesn’t happen every time, but everyone was so cool. So it made it really easy to be like, ‘All right, cool. I’m chilling!'”
Of course, Cimino grew to be closest with Ramakrishnan since he filmed all of his scenes with her. “She’s so dope, such a good human being,” he praises of his scene partner. And though the two had a steamy romance onscreen, they bonded as friends in the most chill way possible: by playing Super Smash Bros. on set. “Literally, I would bring my [Nintendo] Switch on set and the PAs and COVID people would come bring the TV on wheels — which they weren’t supposed to do but we’d do it anyways. We’d put the Switch on and we’d all just play Smash Bros. It was so fun! So fun.”
Cimino is looking toward the future following his “Never Have I Ever” appearance. Though he missed out on joining the cast’s group chat — “I was only in four episodes so that makes sense” — he is excited about his next acting gig, though he can’t reveal details just yet. “I can’t really talk too much about it but I will say that this next job that I’m going to do combines so many of my passions and I’m so freaking excited,” he beams. “It’s definitely a dream job for me and I can’t wait to share with the world because it’s genuinely something I’m so excited for. I feel like this part was kind of made for me.”
Read ahead to learn more about Cimino — from his unconventional high school experience to his other bucket list role.
What was your high school experience like?
So I actually did online school. My high school experience was all online but I’ll say [those] years were honestly pretty sick. I was driving back and forth from Las Vegas to California for auditions and then as soon as I turned 18, I packed my bags and moved to LA and that was it. All my friends were still in high school and I was living by myself with a bunch of roommates and just having the craziest life experiences ever, which was so sick because I graduated early. It was honestly the best kind of high school formative years that I could have had.
What’s one high school event you would’ve loved to experience?
Prom would probably be one of the things that’d be cool but actually going to graduation, [too]. I didn’t have a graduation. That would’ve been really cool to experience.
What’s your signature scent?
Well, I did a brand campaign for Azzaro and I actually really liked the cologne, so I wear it all the time now. That’s my go-to.
What are your dating red flags and green flags?
Oof, OK. Dating red flags for sure are someone that’s not hardworking. That’s definitely a no-go. I’d say someone that’s a little bit too clingy because I’m very busy and I like to be up and going and doing my thing. I don’t want to have to tell the person that I’m dating everything that’s going on every single moment of every single day. I just feel like that’s just too much.
My green flags I’d say are the opposite. Someone that’s hardworking, independent, someone that’s emotionally available, obviously. Somebody that also tries to take interest in the things that I have interest in. I think that that’s a good basis for a relationship like, look, I might not understand what you love but let me try to at least learn about it and vice versa. So that you guys have a general understanding of what you both care about and love.
What’s your idea of a perfect date?
Something chill. I love a chill date. Maybe dinner and then going to a nice spot to just chat, you know? Have a nice time looking at a view or something like that. I’m not really much of a party person. I do like to go dancing every now and again. But other than that, I’d say I’m kind of a homebody, honestly.
What’s your comfort movie or TV show?
“Steven Universe” — I love that show! There’s also this anime I watch with my roommates, it’s called “My Hero Academia.” I watch that all the time. It’s so good and fun and reminds me of when I was a kid and I used to watch “Dragon Ball Z” and stuff.
What’s your dream role?
I’d love to do some more stuff where it’s combining music and acting. Maybe write a song for a movie and do that sort of thing ’cause I think that that’s so fun to combine your passions. The other [role] that I’m doing is definitely a huge, huge dream of mine, but I’m not going to talk about it; I don’t want to ruin it. Maybe also a boxing or fighting movie. An action film would be so sick.
What’s the best love advice you’ve ever received?
This is going to sound so corny, but if you love them, let them go. Because for me, I was very much under the impression that, oh, if you love somebody, you have to hold onto them but that’s not always the case. Sometimes you just have to let people go and then you realize, oh, they weren’t actually the right person for me. Everyone obviously receives that [advice] but once you actually realize it and experience it, you’re like, “Oh, that’s why everyone says that!”