James Roday & Dulť Hill ('Psych')
'The Mental Mentalists Return!'
The fourth season premiere of 'Psych' airs this upcoming Friday on the USA network and then resumes with new episodes week after week. In the season opener, Shawn and Gus head off to Canada for a romantic ski weekend and a bit of crime-solving on the side.
But, whilst vacationing in Canada, Shawn and Gus also find themselves tracking Despereux, an elusive international art thief who has alluded Lassiter for years. Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride) guest-stars in "Extradition: British Columbia", premiering Friday, August 7th at 10/9C!
I recently had the opportunity to speak with both James Roday and Dulť Hill about this fourth season, and first wondered (with the show known for its fast-paced banter between your characters, Shawn and Gus) how much input do you guys get in what is said on screen? [Roday] "Unlike, I think, the majority of shows on television right now we actually have a frighteningly high amount of say in what we do with the dialog. A lot of times it comes in great and all we have to do is say it, but any time we sort of recognize an opportunity to throw something in or add something or if we have a better name for Gus than the one that came in we just pull the trigger."
"Weíre pretty good at monitoring ourselves so that we only do it if weíre making it better, and itís very rare that we find out later that the people down in LA were disappointed because we changed something. Theyíre usually pretty pleased."
[Hill] "Yes. And the names that we come up with most of the time it has to do with somebody that we know, somebody in the cast knows or somebody that one of the writers knows or a producer, something like that. I would say pretty much eight times to of ten there is some relation to the crazy name that Gus is being called."
What detectives, in real life or in fiction, have been an influence for the characters? [Roday] "You know what, I go to this movie called 'Without a Clue' that not a lot of people saw. It was Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley, and the idea behind the movie was that Watson was the brains of the operation and Holmes was just this very theatrical sort of charlatan that diverted peopleís attention and got all the ladies. Itís a very, very funny movie that not a lot of people have seen."
"But I love the fact that it was sort of rooted in the idea that these two guys absolutely, positively were dependent on one another to solve a crime, because Holmes was sort of the face of the franchise but Watson was the guy that sort of kept their feet on the ground and did a lot of the thinking. Thatís not exactly what the dynamic is on Psych, but the sort of ying yang element of it of thereís no way that either of these guys could work on their own and thereís no way that they could accomplish what they were doing without the other one is definitely sort of a big element of what we do on Psych."
"So, thatís my answer. I feel decent about it. Iím passing it off to Dulť."
[Hill]] "I guess for myself itís not any real I guess template that I came in to with a preconceived notion about like in terms of a previous detective team. I guess if I had to choose one I would say Cosby and Poitier in Uptown Saturday Night. I want to say that would be the equivalence that I could think of, but besides that thereís not really anything that Iíve thought about before to say yes, this is what the template is."
For the record, 'Without a Clue' is one of my favorite movies of all time! [Roday] "Good man. Good man."
OK, so, James, had you visited any actual psychics in order to watch and observe them in action, perhaps? [Roday] "Yes, I visited a couple psychics back before we shot the pilot just because I was sort of interested to hear their back stories and sort of how the power manifests itself."
"And of course you never know if theyíre legit or not, but there were some interesting stories in terms of like physicalizing the gift. I was interested to hear like does it ever take over your body, does your body heat rise, stuff like that; anything that I could steal. Of course I did not tell them while visiting that I was going to be playing a fake psychic nor did they figure it out on their own, so maybe that tells you everything you need to know about the people that I met with."
"And I have to say, for the record, my favorite line from 'Without A Clue' is after Michael Caine pokes a dead body with a stick and announces to everyone, ďIt is my opinion that this man is dead.Ē So there you go."
And Dulť, being that Gus is an encyclopedia of useless knowledge that oddly becomes useful every week, is it anything like the way your brain works in real life? [Hill] "No. I try not to fill up my brain cells with useless information. So most of the time Iím pretty much just learning it as it comes in the scripts."
The show is so fun to watch, but is the show as much fun to shoot as it is to watch? [Hill] "Yes. We have so much fun up there. The cast is great, the crew is even greater, and we just have a lot of fun. No one takes themselves too seriously; we all come to work and we are pretty much getting paid to laugh all day. We sing songs; we have the best singing crew in Vancouver. One day if you get a chance you come up there and weíll have them sing you Happy Birthday just for no reason in particular. We sing Happy Birthday about three or four times a day just because. Thereís a really great bunch of people up there."
[Roday] "Absolutely. And we donít pay royalties for it. Itís free; we can sing Happy Birthday for free!"
At Comic Con you kind of teased that Twin Peaks would be this season. Is that not true? [Roday] "That is not true, unfortunately. I think that something got lost in the translation there. This season has sort of been locked for a while; there are no unaccounted for episodes. That was us teasing with the hoax that if some of our executives were in the audience it was like a hint, hint listen to how bad everybody wants this. You have to keep us on the air. Itís a promise; itís definitely a promise that if thereís a season five Twin Peaks will definitely happen."
[Hill] "I guess a little teaser too Twin Peaks would be Ray Wise doing our show this year. A little prelude."
I thought it was funny the jokes that you made about 'The Mentalist' in the fourth season premiere. So, when that show started, were you guys like going, ďHmm, that sounds familiar?" [U>Roday] "It was. No one is off limits when it comes to us, including ourselves. Weíve made fun of our own sort of resumes on this show. As long as they have a sense of humor over there I would think that they would be sort of flattered and get a kick out of it."
"Obviously, itís not malicious in any, but itís what we do on our show and if youíre going to go make a bigger show thatís kind of like our show and get four times as many viewers and Emmy nominations then you should expect to hear about it when our show airs."
Do you guys have a favorite episode so far or simply one you think is the best episode you guys have put together thus far? [Roday] "I like different ones for so many different reasons, but I can say that for me personally, just as an actor, I think the most fun Iíve ever had on our show was an episode called Lifeís Camera Homicidio when my character got thrust into the world of a Spanish telenovela and I got to improvise in both English and Spanish. That was a blast."
[Hill] "Well I guess for that episode I guess Roday to be able to improvise in Spanish he was getting in touch with his roots so he was really excited about that."
"But for myself it would still have to go back to American Duos. I just canít help it, I just loved dressing up as Michael Jackson and being able to do a moonwalk, have John Landis direct me while Iím dressed up as Michael Jackson in Thriller. And there was a crowd there, too, so you canít really beat that. You canít really beat that. Thatís one of my all time favorite experiences on Psych."
So, what can we expect from this upcoming season? [Roday] "In terms of sort of themes for episodes you saw that weíre doing sort of an expedition Canada, catch a jewel/art thief episode, and weíre doing sort of a Shawn and Gus save an old western town and everything that comes along with that that you could imagine, including a grizzled, gray bearded James Brolin."
[Hill] "Exorcism episode."
[Roday] "Yes, weíre paying tribute to the Exorcist with our exorcism episode featuring the aforementioned Ray Wise, who is just fantastic in the episode I have to say. Just really came in and knocked it out of the park."
[Hill] "American Werewolf in London homage."
[Hill] "Thatís right, a little love letter to American Werewolf in London and werewolf movies in general featuring David Naughton, obviously, and Josh Malina. And lots of other fun stuff."
"I have to say I think weíre kind of storming out of our gates this year with some really good stuff. I think last year we stormed in our heads, but we were actually like trotting at a casual pace, and this year I actually think weíre storming out of the gates for real."
You guys have such great chemistry on the show does that come naturally? [Hill] "I think so; I think it comes naturally. From the time we first got together there was a good vibe there, and weíve had a cast that continued to grow with it. I think even off screen we get along very well. The cast as a whole we like hanging out with each, making each other laugh, going out having dinner, playing poker, playing mafia. Itís just us up there in Vancouver, so if we didnít get along then I think it would show itself on screen. So I would say it comes pretty natural."
[Roday] "I agree with all of that."
In season three we got to see a lot more of the serious side of the characters. Are we going to get more of that in season four? [Hill] "Yes, a little bit. You donít ever want to go too far in that direction, because I think people have plenty of shows that they watch to watch people be serious. I think at the end of the day itís always going to be important for us to mostly deliver what has made us successful, but there will definitely be episodes this year where you see us flip our serious switches. Gus has a serious jackal switch where itís still a jackal but itís a serious jackal."
[Hill] "Yes. That will have to make its way out some time this year!"
The episode 'American Duos' has to be one of the fans favorites so far. What was it like working with Tim Curry and the rest of the guest stars? [Hill] "Oh, wow, it was great. First of all, just the fact that Roday and Tim Curry went into a little back and forth saying, ďNo.Ē You couldnít really beat that. Youíre working with a comic genius, a great actor, along with Gina Gershon too, it was great. And then having John Landis direct, as I said before, for myself it was one of the all time great moments for me on Psych."
[Roday] "It was a blast of an episode and it was cast perfectly. It was just one of those things where all the pieces came together and you just sort of sat back and pinched yourself a little bit, because youíre like I canít believe this is A, happening, and B, like episode one of season two. So the planets definitely aligned on that one."
Finally, if you could be in any television show of the past which would it be? Or if you could spoof a show as an episode what would it be? [Roday] "Well, my answer is one in the same. I would have given anything to be on Twin Peaks, and if we last another season we will be doing a Twin Peaks episode. So there you go."
[Hill] "I guess for myself if I could have been a Cosby kid. If I could have been on Cosby that would have been great for me. And I guess if we could spoof any show I would say maybe Fame; I could be Leroy."
Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
Back To Archives