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Actor Andy Favreau on His Way-Famous Brother and New Show with Mindy Kaling

And the moment that changed his life.

When he was younger, Andy Favreau, now 33, had big plans for a career in law enforcement, but all it took was one desk job in a drab cubicle to send him barreling westward into the acting world at full speed. A couple of classes, a few background scenes, and one cross-country move later, and he's a rising star about to appear in the Mindy Kaling-produced Champions and opposite Jason Biggs in the Christmas film Angry Angel, on Freeform. Not bad for a Boston kid.

We caught up with Andy Favreau for a wide-ranging discussion about the key to buying great Christmas presents, what it's like to be the 12th most famous Virgo on the Internet named Andy, and what it's like to compete for attention in a family that includes brother Jon Favreau, the former speechwriter for President Obama and co-host of the massively popular podcast Pod Save America.

Angry Angel is a Christmas movie. What are you hoping to get for Christmas?

Now that I'm getting older, I don't have a Christmas wishlist anymore. I tell my parents to forget clothes because I'm so particular. Just gift cards. Everyone will be happy. And then I don't have to go to the store and return things the day after Christmas with all the other crazy people.

What's the key to giving a good present?

To not go out on a limb. You gotta know the person and know what they want. Don't go and do something crazy. My first step is usually to walk into the Apple store, see what that person doesn't have from Apple, and get it for them. That's usually foolproof. There's always something new from Apple.

So everyone you know is getting an iPhone X?

Well, those are a little steep. Maybe the wireless headphones. I should have clarified: go to the Apple store, then go to the accessories department. [Laughs]

Your bio says you have the perfect trifecta: talent, chiseled good-looks, and a charismatic personality. What's your best trait?

I don't know how one person can be charismatic but I think I'm a very friendly guy. I find it easy to meet new people. If you're on a new set or a new project, even if you're guesting, I make it a point to go up and introduce myself. It makes you less nervous. I'm pretty personable and can become friendly with people easily.

That seems like good life advice generally.

It is. But it's tough. We're taught early in the business that when you're working background to leave the main actors alone. You have to make sure you don't have that mentality as you grow in your career. It's not the way to go. If you're a regular on the show or a main cast member, I think you want to get the cast family together as quickly as you can.

Champions seems like it would be a fun set.

It's going to be fantastic. We just shot the pilot and we have nine more episodes to film. It's a dream job: a half-hour comedy working with Mindy Kaling and Charlie Grandy, who created it. They are two of the most impressive, funny, smart people in the business. I'm also getting to work with Anders Holm from Workaholics, who plays my brother. The writing is great. The cast is super close-knit. It's a lot of fun.

Have you thought about getting out of acting?

No. This is it. I don't know what else I would even do. It's funny that I say that now because I never thought I was going to be an actor. I went to college and graduate school to study criminal justice. I thought I was going to go into criminal justice. Somewhere along the way I took an acting class and realized that maybe I wanted to play a cop on TV instead of real life. I went full-steam ahead: moved from Boston to LA, and I've been here about six years now.

How did that transition happen? Was it really that simple?

Right after grad school I had a job working for the state. That was a nine-to-five job. You quickly realize that sitting at a cubicle is either going to be the life for you or it's not. For me, it wasn't. I needed a creative outlet in my life. I had thought about acting in the past but not seriously.

As I was sitting at the desk, I started taking an acting class in Boston. I realized that I loved it and that I was good at it. I got involved in whatever I could in Boston at the time. There were some movies coming to Boston because there was a big tax break at the time, so I got involved in background work and some short films. I got my SAG card and moved to LA.

On a less serious note, lists you as the 12th most popular Virgo named Andy. That seems pretty good.

That is pretty good. Hopefully a year from now I can bump that up to six or seven.

Did you ever give Jon advice when he was writing speeches for Obama?

It's crazy. I'm out here acting and having so much fun on sets and getting paid for it, and I'm looking at my brother, who has such a serious job at the White House. It's like, "Should I be doing something more serious? What am I doing to change the world today?"

I always looked up to my older brother. He's found success, and I've always wanted to be successful like him. It gives me that drive to catch up to him and be the favorite son in the family.

How's that going?

Good. We'll see what happens. Once this show comes out I might overtake him.

Television shows are much cooler than podcasts.

Exactly, exactly.

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