'Ghosts' Star Utkarsh Ambudkar Details 'Funny' Challenges of His Role on CBS Ensemble Comedy (Exclusive)

One of the warmest, most quirky comedies is making its way to primetime TV Thursday night and it's one that has a lot of love and heart, according to one of the sitcom's lead stars. Ghosts, which premieres at 9 p.m. ET tonight on CBS with a one-hour block featuring two back-to-back episodes sees a happily married yet struggling couple who inherit a country estate. With dreams of turning the grounds into a bed and breakfast, the home's current residents — a ragtag group of ghosts spanning multiple generations — have other plans for the pair. The Joe Port and Joe Wiseman-created series stars a bevy of comedic stars, including actor Utkarsh Ambudkar, who tells PopCulture.com he's very excited for audiences to finally see it, even though he had some "funny" challenges along the way.

"It's a great show. It's full of joy and love and heart," Ambudkar said. "I hope it's something I feel comfortable watching with my kids and my parents and I'm really excited that it sort of hearkens back to the type of viewing experience that we used to enjoy with our families when we were younger. I think there's a lot of really, really great specialized hyper-focused, genre television. There's a lot of stuff for very specific people, but there's not a lot of stuff for the whole family to sit and watch together. I think Ghosts really fills that need for happy, joyful, connected programming, especially given the last 18 months that we've all had."

Admitting he was excited to be a part of the show with co-star Rose McIver because of the opportunity to play a "whole lead" like a "normal guy" in "abnormal circumstances," Ambudkar says the experience has all been "really fun" so far. "I watched the British show, and I thought that was great and then the people involved, Rose and Brandon Scott Jones and Sheila [Carrasco] and on down the line, all the ghosts. I'm a huge fan of everyone in the ensemble."

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(Photo: Bertrand Calmeau/CBS 2021)

The show introduces audiences to a diverse list of ghosts among the likes of an eager Viking (Devan Long); a haughty 18th-century politician (Jones); a Prohibition-era lounge singer (Danielle Pinnock); a carefree hippie (Carrasco); an '80s scout troop leader (Richie Moriarty); and a slick '90s Wall Street bro (Asher Grodman). Ambudkar says while they were all "really just very open" to him joining the ensemble, he was happy how the opportunity allowed him to be himself. "[I can] bring sort of my improvisational energy to the part and so, it's been a lot of fun."

But while he enjoys performing with the ensemble cast, his character Jay isn't exactly in a position to get playful with the ghosts as he cannot see them — just Sam, his on-screen wife played by McIver. Admitting he has to avoid all eye contact with the ghosts, Ambudkar says a lot of it is just "staring off into space," hilariously enough. "It's something that I practice doing anyway," he jokes. "So it's just like pick a spot on the wall ad look at it, and then look back and forth from Rose to that spot on the wall. It's very technical acting stuff here. It's pretty high level. We're talking Daniel Day-Lewis levels of acting talent."

However, it doesn't come without its challenges. After all, his co-stars are all very funny. "Not only is it difficult to not watch them, but I mean, I want to watch them because they're doing such great work. The only part that I regret is that I can't enjoy their work in real-time. I sort of have to see it later and be like, 'That's what you did. That was amazing.'"

The show, which is adapted from the BBC version of the same name and co-executive produced by many of the original creators and stars, is one Ambudkar really enjoys even if he only saw five minutes of it. "I didn't watch it — not out of disrespect — but because I knew within five minutes that I would just try and copy it, because I loved it so much," he said. "After we're done shooting this season, I'll watch the first season of the BBC one, and I'll be able to enjoy it as a fan."

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However, Ambudkar adds that the two shows made are from "very different times in the world," and the goal with the CBS version is to create some positivity. "To bring a little hope and love and connection — we want to show that an entire family, like three or four generations, can sit down and watch together and enjoy," he said. "It's a lot of heart. There's a lot of pace and humor and it's a family show. It's a dysfunctional family, but it is for sure a family show and so, I think that's the energy that we are bringing — and a little less sarcasm. The sardonic humor is way dialed down, and we really turned up sort of heart, positivity and the joy that can be found in life. From all of these ghosts, we are trying to help each other learn how to live."

Ghosts premieres Thursday, Oct. 7 at 9 p.m. ET with a one-hour premiere featuring two back-to-back episodes on CBS and available to stream on Paramount+. Those interested in seeing all Paramount+ has to offer can click here for a free streaming offerDisclosure: PopCulture.com is owned by ViacomCBS Streaming, a division of ViacomCBS.