Meet Aparna Brielle – the talented rising actress has previously gained recognition for her remarkable performances in productions like the cult comedy series A.P. BIO and Netflix’s BOO, BITCH!, where she shared the screen with Lana Condor. Now, she is gracing our screens in the exciting new Netflix series FUBAR alongside no other than Arnold Schwarzenegger and Monica Barbaro. The captivating yet truly hilarious series blends elements of spy intrigue and adventurous comedy, creating a fun dramedy experience. Aparna stands out in her portrayal of Tina, a highly skilled and intelligent NSA analyst who is seconded to the CIA. As a Russian double agent, she adds an intriguing dynamic to the team. But watch for yourself!
1883 Magazine chats with Brielle about all things FUBAR, working with Arnold Schwarzenegger, channelling a double agent and how cats can teach us to be better spies.
FUBAR, the Netflix series is out now which is very exciting! What can you tell us about it and your character?
The show is an action comedy. It’s Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first-ever TV series, which is such an honour to be a part of. I’m still pinching myself, truly. It is about a father and daughter who are both in the CIA without the other one knowing, so there’s a lot of hilarity. I play Tina, who’s an NSA analyst on loan, the youngest in the group, new to the family, and kind of gets swept up in this insane mission that everyone’s taking on.
I watched the trailer before it came out and it looked so fun, and Arnold Schwarzenegger is great.
He’s such a legend. I grew up with my dad always playing Terminator 2 whenever he had people over to show off our movie system. For me to meet him, I was like, oh, you were a part of my childhood in so many ways. He’s so very humble despite who he is and such a team player and so fun to work with, honestly. I can’t believe it. I hope you like the show, I think people will. It’s such a fun show.
It sounds like your experience with Arnold was quite pleasant. He seems like a fun person.
Oh, yeah, he’s so fun. I was kind of afraid because he was always telling us stories about him and other castmates in the past pranking each other. He had all these stories about him and Danny DeVito kind of crossing the lines with it on Twins. So, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I kept going, when’s it going to be my turn? I love a good prank, but I’m kind of afraid.
So did he pull one?
He did on one of our press days, and I was the only one who got scared because I’m very jumpy.
Oh god, same. I’m the jumpiest person ever so I don’t blame you.
Yeah, I’m so jumpy. I’m so skittish. He just jumped out from a poster of him behind us, and another time he was just hiding in the background so many times and I didn’t know he was there. I’m not that observant, so he got me. This is why I feel like if I listen to true crime podcasts too much I will become the jumpiest person alive ever. That’s why I don’t listen to that.
Same! What was the whole casting process like in the first place and where were you when you heard that you got the role?
It was really interesting when I auditioned for it, I didn’t even know that Arnold was coming to TV. It was just so crazy. I auditioned for Tina, not knowing anything about the character. They were super secretive. Then, after that tape, I was told the showrunner wanted to meet with me and do a call back together which is always exciting. In that call, he just straight up told me everything about the character and I was like, oh you want me for this part, that’s kind of cool. Playing it cool internally, of course, but I was trying to act all suave about it. It turns out they had watched my show AP BIO some time ago and were big fans and they wanted someone who could play that kind of nerdy or unassuming type of person. Tina ends up being such a huge character by the end of the first season. She is, to my knowledge, a central part of season two or for what happens in the setup for season two. I did this callback and then from there, it was super quick. A couple of days later, I’m getting told to pack my bags and pack your cat because I’m going to Toronto. Since then, it was just kind of a whirlwind. I moved out of my home in LA and moved straight to Canada. I didn’t have a place here — I’m just going to go on this adventure and see where it takes me.
That’s amazing. I wasn’t aware that it was shot in Toronto. It’s such an amazing city.
Toronto is amazing. I loved every second. The culture there is cool. I got to stay in a really beautiful part of Old Town, too, and I’m a history nerd so I loved it. I was every day just soaking it all in and it was cool how they managed to transform so much of Toronto into all of these international locations. When I’m watching the show I know where some of these places are because I got the call sheet, but I’m watching it like there’s no way that’s Toronto. It looks like Belgium, there’s no way.
I once heard that a lot of shows and films pretend to be based somewhere else but are filmed in Toronto because it’s so versatile.
It is a chameleon of a city, I will say that. I mean, it is a melting pot in its own right, and I feel like the crews there just really know how to transform it so that no one could ever tell. It’s so cool.
How long were the whole shooting days and what did a typical shoot day look like?
Every day could be kind of different. When I started on the show, I was part of the home base, so I’m in the CIA office a lot. So not to brag, but I kind of had it easy. I got to come in and, honestly, I think most work days could be anywhere from 12 to 15 hours. It just depends on what’s required. Sometimes we’d be shooting multiple episodes at once, so you kind of have to be able to keep track. Thankfully, we had such an amazing team and our showrunner, they were all so helpful with knowing what episode we were on — like, do we hate each other now, do we like each other now? They knew it all. They built these amazing sets, these amazing rigs. And sometimes they’d be shooting with two teams at once.
I’ll be doing my CIA work and I’ll see Arnold and everyone doing stunts hanging from midair next to me, but no one can see that on the show. They look like two different cities. A lot of working on set is sitting and waiting, which seems like a passive thing, but it is so much work. You’re going through all these lines. The first time I ever had a visit, my mom visits set on any job I did, she was shocked. She was like, I don’t know how much work goes into just prepping to shoot. We had a lot of cast bonding time between and a lot of time to play with all the accents and all the other languages that we speak and the jargon. It’s just such a fun job. I can’t lie, I’m still gushing about it because I can’t believe I got to play so much, you know.
That’s so interesting. So speaking of accents, what’s your favourite accent to play, or speak for that matter?
This is the big reveal, but I am a Russian double agent in the show. So, by the end of the season, I got to learn some pretty fun Russian phrases and the accent is so cool to me and I love languages in general, just listening to them. There’s that episode where I got to speak French and a French accent, which high school me would have lost it. I was such a Francophile, I still kind of am. I used to be almost fluent in high school and I’m not anymore as an adult, but yeah, I think the French and Russian were just so much fun to play with. It’s such a different sound than my West Coast American.
A double agent, damn! The French accent is amazing. Can you do a German or Austrian one?
I don’t know, I don’t think I can. Well maybe that’s a lie I probably could with coaching, but it’s so funny, I feel like I know this Arnold accent is Austrian, and everyone and their mother can do an Arnold impression except for me, and maybe it’s just because I was a little shy or something, but the only thing I can say is, get to the choppa, and that’s it. That’s the only thing I can say, or, I’ll be back, and that’s cheating. Every time I try on set, I’d be like, no, this is so awful. If someone wants to coach me, fine.
That’s so funny, I do agree that everyone and their mother have probably attempted an Arnold accent. So you’re on loan to the CA and a double agent, how did you prepare for the role?
I got really lucky that our showrunner is such an incredible writer. I mean, Nick Santora wrote for The Sopranos and created Prison Break. He has this detailed character background and I’m a huge nerd. I wanted all the homework, I wanted to know the entire backstory and what he had planned. Knowing what is coming in the next couple of seasons gave me a base to go off of. I tried to make the character feel like a homegrown, like me. I wanted her to sound a little like me. There are differences; I’m not quite as adept at all the things that she is but I did want it to be subtle. There are times when even while she’s a double agent, she’s also undercover. So it’s like a disguise within a disguise.
It helped me a lot to have such an amazing cast to work off of. You really can’t make your full final decisions until you’re around all of them and you can see their energy. Getting to work off Milan Carter, who plays my love interest, Barry… He is so warm, gives so much, and is just such a beautiful person. It made me feel like it was tugging at the heartstrings because he doesn’t know I’m a double agent and it might be the first time a guy was genuinely nice to this girl. It’s almost like going to school for the first time. I got lucky that I got to work off of him and kind of build this Tina that people see. So, by the time they see who she’s been all along, this Russian weapon, it’s a stark difference. You only get a glimpse of it this season, but I’ve been watching how my cat walks a lot just to get an idea of what I want to do for her real movement. Do you know what I mean? I’m just a crazy person. I talk about my cat in every interview. It’s so bad.
We gotta love our pets. What’s his name?
Oscar Wilde. He is a baby and he’s so cute. I have been studying how he moves around when he’s shy or when he’s being shady and slinky. I have heard so many people say, oh, I do animal work. The more I would watch Oscar move around, the more I realized there is something to this because sometimes he’ll pop up and I’m like, I didn’t even hear you come in.
[Laughs] He can teach you! Also, your love interest’s heart will probably be broken after finding out about your double life.
I don’t even know how he’s going to find out or when. Milan has such a beautiful personality, but the Barry character he’s created is just so sweet and lovable. You just want him to win. I felt like every time I would do that little Russian line and we’d cut, I’d be like, OK, that felt kind of cool and then I’d be like, oh no, that feels kind of awful. Now he’s going to get his heart broken. And I don’t want to do that to him. He’s so sweet.
[Laughs] He’ll get over it.
As they say, you gotta break a few eggs to make it work.
Preach it. Was there anything you learned for yourself from your character if that makes sense?
Absolutely, I think that’s such a great question I don’t get that asked often. I do feel like every time I get to work with a character, I do bring back something that changes my life for the better. I’m very high energy and can be super hyper which I love but Tina taught me to be grounded. She takes her time talking to people and thinks and likes to measure her words, especially when you’re in a CIA office, you just want to speak when you have to. Arnold’s playing a senior officer, I learned the value of each relationship I have in my life and how she has to earn her way into this family and I was like, wow I really can’t take for granted where I’m at and that I get like I do feel like there’s a parallel in our lives in terms of entering this industry and that can take over your life.
I learned a lot through Tina about the fact like what if I want to have more balance? What if I want to have time for the people in my life and time for? Experiences in my life and not just living for the job, which is what she does. Also, I learned a lot about helping her find her compassion. I feel like the more I spend time with this character, the more I’m going to learn, especially as we peel back her layers and I get to play with her some more. She’s a little, as Shrek would say, an onion. But she’s so good at that.
Wise words from Shrek! It’s so amazing how a character can just be part of your life after playing them for a whole.
They are. The longer I’ve been doing this, all the things my acting teachers would say growing up ring true, which is that your characters all do come from you. But then you strip away the layers that make it you and add other layers in. So I always kind of joke that every character I play is like a little daughter of mine somewhere in there. Or my inner child, if we’re going to use the lingo. But no, really, I feel that the more time I get to spend with Tina, the more I really do discover parts of myself and some of them I don’t fully realize until well after the fact. And I’m like, oh, self-actualization, this is the way for me. I’ll get there someday.
I love that. So did you steal anything from the set?
No, I’m a goody-two-shoes and I’m a horrible liar unlike my character, but I did buy something off-set. I did buy it. It was the costume designer’s boots and they’re so cute, okay? They’re these Stuart Weitzman boots that I get to wear and I put them on and I never want to take them off. They’re so comfy and they make my legs look amazing. I was like, can I buy them off of you, please? I had to beg her for weeks. Cause she was like, you don’t know how many actresses have begged me for these shoes. She was so sweet. She ended up giving me such a great deal on them. I have to say I’ve worn them all the time since, so they give me a little confidence boost for sure. So maybe that’s another thing I bring from Tina into my life — if I want a little boost, I’ll put those boots on.
Everybody loves a good pair of boots!
Just get yourself a good pair of sexy boots and see what happens. It’s gonna change your life. It’s like, forget liquid courage, you just need a good pair of boots honestly.
Amen to that! So except FUBAR, is there anything else you’re currently working on that you can share yet, or anything that’s on Netflix that you would like to be a part of at some point?
Yeah, I’m so excited. My first ever animated series is coming out with Netflix, actually, on August 10th, and that’s with Daniel Dae Kim and Ming-Na Wen. It’s a show called Mech Cadets, and it’s kind of based on a comic book. But it’s this really fun, futuristic, robot apocalypse war. They have done some amazing, really cool new technology to design the animations in Japan and I cannot wait for people to see it. It’s such a cool story. I mean, honestly, I’m so lucky to be working the way I am, and I’ve been so lucky that I’ve gotten some variety in the characters that I’ve gotten to play. So I’m just excited to continue jumping into different worlds, different genres. I’m in the process of developing a few things that I can’t quite talk about, with some other cool creators, but genre-bending. I’m just excited as a creative person to get to jump in the pool and play with everyone. I feel so, so lucky I get to work with the people that I do. I can’t even express how lucky I feel.
It’s so well deserved! So, last but not least, what is your favourite TV show ever or your guilty pleasure show?
Well, my guilty pleasure show is Reality TV and it’s Vanderpump Rules, but that’s separate. Everyone knows that, though, if you talk to me for five minutes. There are so many TV shows that I love and so many films as well. I don’t know if I have an all-time favourite because I feel like there are so many new things coming out. But this year, the show I have become obsessed with that I will tell everyone to watch is Beef on Netflix. I came out of it crying and laughing every day. And I was like, wow this is therapy for me. I love it. It’s so creative. It’s so surreal. It’s so wacky, and I just loved every second and so I made my entire family watch it. I lied before I do have an all-time favourite, and that would be Twin Peaks and Twin Peaks: The Return. And of course, the production company I started last year is a little Twin Peaks reference, New Shoes. So that will always have a place in my heart. I love David Lynch so much. But also I don’t even think of it as a show.
Twin Peaks is life!
Yes! I also grew up in the Pacific Northwest, so it feels like home for me when I’m watching it. The foggy mornings, and they did shoot quite a bit near where I grew up, so it was kind of fun when I watched it for the first time.
FUBAR is streaming now on Netflix.
Interview Antonia Kuenzel
Photography Sergio Garcia