An actor who appeared in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” pleaded not guilty Wednesday to attempted murder in the stabbing of his girlfriend.
Shelley Malil, 43, was ordered held on $10 million bond after Superior Court Judge Marshall Hockett deemed him a flight risk. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of the charge, which includes special circumstances of premeditation, causing great bodily injury and using a deadly weapon.
Prosecutor Steven Carver said Malil, who first gained fame in Budweiser’s 2001 Super Bowl “What are you doing?” commercial, appeared on the back patio of Kendra Beebe’s house Sunday in the inland suburb of San Marcos and attacked her with a knife while her two children slept upstairs.
“There was a prolonged attack,” Carver said after Malil’s arraignment hearing. “He came up and started stabbing her immediately without any words or argument.”
A man who was visiting Beebe disarmed Malil, who found a second knife inside the house and continued attacking Beebe, Carver said. A neighbor who heard the commotion found Malil on the front patio and took away the second weapon before the actor fled.
“He did not stop his murderous acts voluntarily but because of the heroic acts of the neighbor,” Carver said.
Beebe, a 35-year-old mother of two, was stabbed 20 times. At least three of the wounds — deep punctures to each lung and one to her throat — were life-threatening.
Beebe remains hospitalized but is expected to survive, Carver said.
Malil was arrested Monday after his lawyer persuaded him to board a train from Los Angeles to Oceanside, in northern San Diego County.
“He surrendered himself,” said Malil’s attorney, Sean Leslie, who contacted law enforcement on the actor’s behalf before the surrender.
Malil was initially held in lieu of $2 million bail. Carver requested an increase to $4 million, citing the actor’s ties to his home country of India, along with a phone call the actor allegedly placed to a friend after the knife attack claiming he was in Tijuana, Mexico.
Leslie said he did not know anything about the call.
Malil was convicted in 2005 of a misdemeanor hit-and-run while driving under the influence of alcohol, Carver said.
Malil starred in the Budweiser commercial, a spinoff of the “Whassup” spots from 2000. He played a co-worker, Haziz, to comedian Steve Carell’s title character in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.”
The Associated Press called Malil’s partnership with Gerry Bednob in the movie one of the “Top 10 Overlooked Performances of 2005.”
He has also appeared in dozens of TV shows including “NYPD Blue” and “Scrubs.”