Mindy Kaling on the set — and on campus
Actress talks about hanging with cast of ‘Ocean’s 8’ and inspiring the grads of Dartmouth College
Emily Berl/The New York Times
Mindy Kaling (third from left) in “Ocean’s 8’’ with (from left) Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, and Helena Bonham Carter. (Barry Wetcher/Warner Bros.)
Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Hulu
By Meredith Goldstein
Globe Staff

Mindy Kaling has been keeping good company. In February, she appeared opposite Reese Witherspoon and Oprah Winfrey in “A Wrinkle in Time.’’ Next weekend is the release of her new blockbuster, “Ocean’s 8,’’ a Gary Ross-directed heist reboot (part of the “Ocean’s Eleven’’ franchise), that has her playing a jeweler robbing the Met Gala with a cast that includes Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Sarah Paulson, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, and Awkwafina.

It’s a huge film, but only one of multiple projects for Kaling, the producer, actress, and director who hails from Massachusetts. Her comedy “Champions’’ aired this year on NBC; her film “Late Night,’’ with Emma Thompson, is in production; and Hulu recently picked up Kaling’s television adaptation of “Four Weddings and a Funeral.’’

Before the release of “Ocean’s 8,’’ Kaling talked about the pleasure of just acting in a film, her high-profile costars, and what she says is her most challenging writing project at the moment — the commencement speech she’ll deliver at her alma mater, Dartmouth College, on June 10.

Q. With “A Wrinkle in Time’’ and “Ocean’s 8,’’ you probably have plenty to say about your recent ensemble experiences.

A. Yeah, it’s incredible. I was kind of jokingly saying to a friend that I don’t really remember what it’s like to act with a man. I’ve been just working with the most amazing women in Hollywood for the past two years.

Q. What was your relationship to the “Ocean’s 8’’ actresses before this project? Did you know them?

A. No, I didn’t know any of them. I had met Sandy [Bullock] socially, I think, once, and Annie [Hathaway, who plays a famous Met Gala attendee] I had met. … It was a completely new experience for me, and I’ve never been in something as big as this before.

Q. Onscreen chemistry is important with a film like this. How do you find that with so many people? Is there time off-screen?

A. Well, I think the great thing about shooting a big movie like this is that when you have to cover eight different actresses in a scene, you just have so much time between takes. They’d do a 45-minute lighting setup, so we would all hang out and talk. ... During these long, 14-hour days, we would be able to spend time together.

Q. Often, with your projects, you’re the actor, producer, and writer. How does it feel to be an actress in “Ocean’s 8’’ — without taking on other responsibilities?

A. It’s such a luxury to be able to be able to come to your project as an actor, and to not have to write my own part for myself — which, by the way, I’m happy to do, and have done a lot. It’s just extra work for me. But to come to a set where you see the script, and it’s so good and so funny ... it’s part of the franchise; I don’t have to help build it all. I just get to be part of it, and it’s just so glamorous and well-run. That was a really nice change for me.

Q. You’ve had big films this year, but you’re also committed to television. Can you talk about navigating these worlds over the years?

A. Well, what’s really wonderful right now is that being a traditional creator — looking like the traditional TV and movie creator — is not what people actually want. For years they’ve said that that’s not what they want, but they secretly just wanted a white man to just write everything and create everything. Now it feels like they actually do want other people to be making these [projects]. I think with the success of movies like “Black Panther’’ and “Get Out,’’ it’s about having non-traditional people behind the scenes, and, in fact, [on] the screen. It’s an asset now for the first time in my career.

Q. I have to ask, since you’re from here: Do you get back to Boston at all? I can’t imagine you have much time for that.

A. Well, I’m actually there a lot because I have a lot of family that’s still in Boston. I mean, not a lot a lot, but I come at least once a year, and then this year I’ll be going to Boston because I’m giving the Dartmouth commencement speech — so I’ll be coming through Logan, and I’ll be picking up all of my relatives on the way.

Q. That must be a different kind of writing.

A. Completely. I did the Harvard Law School commencement a couple years ago, and it’s about a thousand times harder than writing for a sitcom or even screenwriting.

Q. Why?

A. It’s not just entertaining somebody for 22 minutes, and you’re not disappearing into my world — I’m going into their world to hopefully give them some actual pearls of wisdom. I don’t think anyone particularly tuned into my show for pearls of wisdom to navigate their early 20s, so I’m very nervous about it. I’m working a lot harder on it than I have on virtually anything else.

Q. Back to the movie. Without revealing major spoilers, was there one scene that was a particular delight to film?

A. We shot this scene which I found extremely enjoyable, which was me and Helena Bonham Carter in Cartier [in New York City]. We shot there for three or four days, and Helena’s energy is so different than mine — she’s so funny and great — so I loved being able to shoot that. It’s very farcical, so I just loved being able to get paired up with her for that.

Q. You probably don’t have much downtime, but when you do, what do you watch?

A. I just finished “Alias Grace’’ on Netflix because it’s about a serial murderess, which is interesting to me. And also “Handmaid’s Tale.’’ And “Atlanta’’ … but everyone’s watching “Atlanta.’’

Interview has been edited and condensed. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at meredith.goldstein