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Psych Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is an interview with James Roday and Dule Hill on February 20, 2012 about the show Psych.

Psych

Question:
Sometimes the banter between Shawn and Gus seems so natural. Is any of that improvised?

James Roday:
We've got a nice balance of scripted stuff and improvisation since the very beginning. I think it's part of what sparks the show and keeps things lively for Dule and luckily we've been doing it long enough that we can generally make it sound like it belongs in the scene.

Question:
As you know, throve been a lot of parodies and tributes done on Psych so far. Are there any other ones coming up in the future that we should be looking for?

Dule Hill:
James Roday has directed one, I think airing second. Maybe you might want to fill them in on what that is there, James.

James Roday:
Thanks for bringing that up, man. We've got an episode called ???Here's Lassie??? up second, which is our tribute to The Shining, not so much the book, more the Stanley Kubrick film adaptation of the book, and that turned out pretty well. I think the highlight is easily Dule Hill's impression of Shelley Duvall. Everyone can look forward to that.

Dule Hill:
Okay. Yes, Gus Duvall is in the house.

James Roday:
Gus gets his Duvall on in a big way.

Dule Hill:
Yes, I see an opening too, I guess as an homage to the Indiana Jones series.

James Roday:
Yes, that's true. That's absolutely true. And then we also send up The Bachelor. That comes later in the season. We do our version of the reality looking for love thing. And then we close down the season with a little nod to Chinatown, which we call Santa Barbara town.

Dule Hill:
Santa Barbara town. See the play on words there, Chinatown, Santa Barbara town? See how we do it?

James Roday:
So, yes, you've got some tributes to look forward to coming up.

Question:
We know that Dule has been doing an amazing job at Stick Fly this hiatus. What did you do over the hiatus, James? And everyone's pretty curious about what they've dubbed ???Ro-hawk??? for your hair.

James Roday:
Wow. Well, yes. I was not doing an amazing job in Stick Fly, which allowed me to shave off 75% of my hair and spike the other part of it so that so that I could pretend like I'm a lot younger than I really am basically. I actually spent a good portion of this hiatus writing, which is another reason why I could do that to myself. So it was good. It was good, and hopefully something will come of it. But I kind of took it on easy, and spent some time renovating a house, it was a very domestic sort of break for me.

Question:
I want to go back to the beginning with you guys, because obviously you had Monk as a lead-in. I think a lesser show probably would have suffered when Monk went off the air. But you guys have turned the show into just a ginormous success, and I'm wondering to what you attribute that, if it's the writing, the acting, the fans?

Dule Hill:
I would say it's a perfect storm. I think it has to do with the writing. I think it has to do with the acting. I think it has to do with the fans. I think it has to do with the network. It has to do with the studio, the crew. I think it's everybody. Creating a hit television show is not easy, and there's no perfect science to making it happen, so when it does, you just kind of enjoy the ride. I think for us to sit back and attribute it to any one thing would be very presumptuous of us, I feel like, that we know what the answer is. Like I said, it's just all these great things coming together, and people seem to enjoy it, and we have fun. I think nobody takes themselves too seriously, and I think that helps the process.

James Roday:
And you mentioned Monk, which was sort of a great shepherd for us, and you know, the truth is Monk managed to stick around long enough for us to kind of find our sea legs and get really comfortable doing what we were doing, so by the time that they did call it a series for Monk, we were sort of confident in our own skin and ready to spread our wings. So they kind of timed that out really nicely for us as well.

Dule Hill:
I think like having the support of the fans, especially like when we do our fan appreciation days, like we did our college tour and things like that, also I think allowed the studio and the network to see how much they enjoyed what we do, which also allows us to have more freedom to have more fun.

James Roday:
Right, and we get everything that keeps kind of playing into each other.

Question:
Yes, absolutely.

James Roday:
So thank you to the fans.

Question:
There had still been more talk about a musical episode in season seven a while ago. Have you heard anything more?

James Roday:
The only person that can answer that question is Steve Franks. I'm pleading the fifth from now on. I'm not promising anything because it's all on his shoulders. And I'll say this. If he wants to do it we'll do it, and that's all we got. That's all we got. To Steve's credit, I think obviously we're all very excited by the possibility of doing a musical, but it's not unprecedented and that other shows have done it, I can tell you it's very important to him that we not just do it, but that we do it incredibly well.

And I think he just doesn't want to short change the fans or our show by delivering anything less than you know, a home run. And I'm not entirely sure if we've figured out what the home run is. So until that happens, it's just a big question mark.

Question:
In the Indiana Jones episode, there's another Shawn and Gus fight, which are always fun. If you think the two of them had to have a fight where someone has to declare a winner, who would win and why?

Dule Hill:
I think what would happen, one of us would declare a winner, and then we probably would start fighting over who the winner is. So it'd be like this little black hole that we'd go into where we'd continue to fight over new things. And then someone would say fine, you win, and then we would start fighting over that, like I said you win, and he would say, ???No, you won.??? You know what I'm saying? It would just keep going back and forth.

James Roday:
It would be tough, because I don't think either of their pain thresholds are very high, and I also don't think they have it in them to truly hurt the other person. So I think it would come down to semantics and debate as opposed to one man standing over the other.

Question:
Shawn hasn't been hiding any secret kung fu moves or anything from his four classes?

James Roday:
Shawn would like to think that he has unlimited moves from any number of disciplines, but I think we all know the truth, which is that when danger is near, those guys run as quickly as they possibly can in the other direction.

Question:
How often do people in the streets or anywhere come up to you or the writers and suggest new nicknames for you to use on the show? Or how do you come up with those nicknames?

James Roday:
In the very beginning, I was just pulling them out of my behind to make Dule laugh, mostly. And then they really caught on, so with our writing staff. And now there is never any shortage of options for Gus's nicknames, along with alternatives in every episode. And I do think the fans have embraced it as well, and send in suggestions, and we hear those sometimes too. It's been sort of a fun give and take that if you'd told me back in the first season that it would become what it was, I probably wouldn't have believed it. But it's been a good time.

Question:
Can you both talk about filming that episode, and what horror film element that was brought into the episode scared you the most?

James Roday:
I can tell you that we got pretty lucky with the set of twins that we found. You know, I think initially we were going to go with sort of more traditionally and closer to what you have in the original movie. And then they had come in and auditioned for a different episode, and I think it was Steve's episode and he remembered them. And he was like you have to watch this.

And we watched the audition, and it was like, oh my gosh. We're going to do this instead, which was better because it allowed us to sort of put our own little spin on it. But they were I thought pretty effectively creepy. They were lovely ladies, and a hoot to have around, but I thought it was just as creepy as the little girls in the movie quite frankly.

Dule Hill:
And the little boy too. The little boy breaking his little pinky, that was pretty spooky for me, especially when we're down there in the laundry room and he comes by the window. That was pretty spooky.

James Roday:
Little kids and twins, man. You can't go wrong with those.

Dule Hill:
Two of the scariest things in the world.

Question:
How much fun was it to get to work with Cary Elwes again?

Dule Hill:
It's always fun working with Cary Elwes. He's such a delight to work with. He's a great guy, brings so much fun energy to the set. And being that he came back around for the third time, you start to really be familiar with people. But we had a blast. I mean, it was a wonderful experience, and if we have a chance to work with him again, we'll look forward to that too.

James Roday:
Yes, Cary's the real deal. That's probably my favorite of the Despereaux episodes. It was really a good time.

Dule Hill:
Definitely.

Question:
Any other big name stars that we can tell people to look for?

Dule Hill:
Jaleel White, Makai Pfeiffer, Lou Gossett Jr., Wayne Brady, Greg Grumberg, Anthony Anderson.

Question:
How in the world do you guys land all these big stars, because you've already had Bill Shatner?

James Roday:
Oh, yes. And Bill pops in again.

Dule Hill:
That's right.

James Roday:
The Shat comes back for a little something something.

Dule Hill:
That's something. I mean, I think people come to our show and they enjoy just from what they hear, that they don't really have much fun on a lot of other shows, and everyone who comes to fight has a good time for a week. They enjoy being up there, and I think word has started to spread to the - through the town that it's a fun place to come and work, and to - you know, and to give actors a chance to come and play something interesting and different and have a week in Vancouver where we get a chance to laugh, laugh a lot. And we can laugh a lot.

Question:
My favorite part of any show is a random pop culture reference that you just sneak into a random conversation. Do you guys come up with those as you go, or do you have one and try to find a way to get it in there that you really want to mention?

James Roday:
I think it's a little bit of everything, I think.

Dule Hill:
Right.

James Roday:
I think for one, between me and Steve and the rest of our writing staff, it's a pretty deep well of obscurity. And with each opportunity we get to come back we've got a list of ones that we haven't gotten to yet, and then in addition to that, we'll come up with stuff in the moment based on a song we've been singing in between takes. And we jam all those in as well. It's a pretty fantastic format, our show, because it kind of lends itself to doing just about anything you'd want and getting away with it.

Dule Hill:
Because for example, the little intimate thing, I was in my trailer one day and somebody emailed me or I'd seen it somewhere like on the Web ???and lovers, come on, son,??? and I was just crying. I think maybe on Facebook I think I saw it, and I was just rolling in my trailer and I finally said, ???Oh, James, you got to come see this,??? or I emailed it to him. It made him die laughing, and by chance we were filming the episode that Bruce Davis did, I think a season ago. And we just started dropping it in there, and it made it to the air.

And then of course this year, now, we were running with the ???Come on, son,??? and we were having dinner one day for Andy Berman's episode. Why don't we have Ed Lover come out and do ???Come on, son.??? And it just happened. So I think it kind of saying come on, son.

James Roday:
Bringing the original article.

Question:
In the episode coming up, Shawn has to deal with mortality. What do you imagine that would be the most likely way that Shawn and Gus kick the bucket?

James Roday:
Shawn has joked on several occasions that Gus will somehow inadvertently be the cause of his own death. I think Steve's thrown that joke in like two or three times over the years, like Gus is going to accidentally walk into traffic or something and have no one to blame but himself. I don't know if these guys have given a lot of thought to mortality. They're kind of stuck in the past and clinging to the idea of not growing up, so I think Shawn is probably convinced that he'll never die, and I think Gus probably just doesn't like thinking about it.

Dule Hill:
In denial. In the past, and in denial. He doesn't want to be putting any choice to talking about that.

Question:
You guys talked a little bit last fall before this season debuted about a clue-themed episode. Is there any word on that project?

James Roday:
That I can say with a reasonable degree of confidence is still happening. The reason that we were unable to do it in season six was sort of a perfect storm of scheduling issues with some of the pieces of talent that I think we could all agree you have to have on board if you're going to do a clue episode. So we basically just put a pin in it and pushed it to season seven, if there was going to be a season seven, and now that there is one, I can say here with confidence, barring some unforeseen glitch, you're going to get your clue episode next up.

Question:
How would you characterize what's going on with these two at this point in their lives? And are we going to see more of these sort of realizations come upon them?

Dule Hill:
I think you have to. I think we've been on the air for six years, going into our seventh. And you know, it would be false for us not to. The fact is they are trying to hold onto the past and to be never growing up, but the fact is they are growing up. And as you see with Shawn and getting more serious with Juliet, and even Gus trying to find his own significant other and things like that, that's going to be the arc of the characters. Otherwise I think it's just be getting boring if we kept doing the same exact thing as season one.

Question:
What kind of crossover do you want to see with Psych and any other show?

Dule Hill:
I'm still on the whole Monk train. I would love to have Tony Shaloub come and do an episode of Psych. Really, I wouldn't mind that, and I wouldn't mind either Zachary Levi. That would be cool. He's a cool dude, and I really could have fun hanging around. And I think the Chuck and the Psych fans would enjoy seeing Zach come and do an episode of Psych. So those are my two.

James Roday:
I think the one thing that we're not allowed to do on Psych in terms of like a mandate creatively that probably will never change is anything that's truly supernatural. Like, stuff can appear to be supernatural, but then there always ends up being an explanation. So I think it would be fun to get dropped into like The Walking Dead or True Blood or something and have Shawn and Gus have to deal with something that truly can't be explained. And also, they were interested in doing more than just talking to him.

Dule Hill:
I think you're right about that.

Question:
Have they ever thought of doing like a Wacky Wednesday episode, where Shawn is Gus and Gus is Shawn, and would that be like the most difficult acting that you've had to do, to try to play each other?

James Roday:
We kind of stuck our big toe in the water. We probably tried it to early, but it was back in I think season two.

Dule Hill:
Two, right.

James Roday:
And it was the episode where Gus's uncle comes to town, and Gus has lied to his family and said that he's the psychic in the duo. And so he kind of had to do his best Shawn impression. But it was a little undercooked, and Shawn didn't have to do any kind of Gus impression, and it's a fairly unmemorable episode, so maybe we can go back to the drawing board and give it a shot.

Dule Hill:
It would be fun.

James Roday:
Yes. Nobody remembers that.

Question:
You both have very strong backgrounds in theater and both in TV and film. What do you consider your favorite and why as far as the genres?

Dule Hill:
For me, by far it's theater. I feel like when I'm on stage I learn more. During a play every night, I learn more as an actor and I grow as an actor much faster I feel and more dynamically than I do in any other medium. But I do enjoy doing television and film. So my ideal situation really would be to do a cable show for four months, be able to go do a film, then go do a play for another three months, and keep doing that cycle oh, every three years or something like that. I think I could do just one medium too long, you can very easily get stale and boring. If I had to choose, I would choose theater, as long as I can get my TV paycheck.

James Roday:
So eloquently laid out for you. I don't even know how to follow that. But I would definitely agree. I mean, theater is the actor's medium for sure. And you know, it's sort of where you get to flex your muscles the most. It generally presents the most challenges. It's the most dangerous. It's the most fulfilling, and I think more than anything it just makes you a better actor on camera. So you know, if I could only do one, I guess it's back to bartending and theater for me.

Dule Hill:
If you could see the difference between me and Roday, he said it's back to bartending and theater. I said as long as I can get my TV paycheck. That's the difference between James and Dule.

Question:
It's been a while since Gus has had a real love interest. How long until he gets a steady romantic love interest?

Dule Hill:
I hope that this season, we'll get a chance to see Gus be in some kind of relationship that lasts over an episode or two. I wouldn't want to see him being in a relationship all season. I think that would not be fun, but hopefully we're going to see what it's like when he's in some kind of relationship over a short period of time, and not just one episode or swinging and striking out.

Question:
Of all the girls that you've got to have a romantic relationship with so far, who's been your favorite to work with?

Dule Hill:
Well, that's kind of a loaded question there, because that was my wife.

Question:
James, you said you had about five fantasy football teams, and I'm curious how they did. Did you take any championships?

James Roday:
I'm not going to lie. It was a down year for me. With triumph comes tragedy, and I've won 20 titles in my time, and last year I think was some comeuppance for me, because I did not win a single title. And I actually missed the playoffs in two of my three biggest leagues, so it was a rough year.

Question:
As good as Psych is, and it really is awesome, does it ever bother you when you're snubbed by the Emmys?

Dule Hill:
I think we would be lying if we said no. You always say you don't care until you actually get a nomination. Then you're like, ???Oh, that's the greatest organization ever!??? I mean, it would be nice to be honored. I think we've put together some really funny episodes and I think that we've consistently been a funny show. We got a little bit of love by being added into some of the opening promo stuff that was going on for the Emmys this year. But it would be nice to get a little more Emmy love in some shape or form for the show. I think Psych is a very funny show and it deserves to be included among the best.

Question:
I would like to know who your favorite presidents are, real or fictional, and why.

Dule Hill:
Fictional wise, it's our President Josiah Bartlett, because I think he's the ideal president. You know, he's someone who thought about issues in a way, the pros and cons, and felt like he let his heart lead him, and really put the country first and doing what's right, beyond doing what the polls say. And most politicians nowadays beyond what they say really do kind of lean towards polling. In terms of real, well I mean, it would have to be a toss-up. For me it would either be a toss-up between President Clinton and President Obama.

And I've been fans of both of theirs, so I can't go too far back because I don't really remember too many presidents before that. You know, I know Reagan and I know Clinton and I know both Bush presidents, and I know President Obama. So I would say Clinton and Obama, presidents, would be my two choices.

James Roday:
I was a Bill Clinton guy for sure. He was my man. And then fictionally I got to go with Tiny Lister. I'm pretty sure he suited up in The Fifth Element.

James Roday:
I think so. He had an eye patch. That's my on-screen president. No one's touching him.

Question:
So Psych has paid homage to a lot of great films and TV series. Is there any favorite film or TV series of yours that you wish you could do as an episode?

James Roday:
I sort of got mine when we did Twin Peaks. That was my favorite show of all time, and that is an experience that I will never forget. So it's going to be tough for anything to come close to that one, but we'll keep rolling them out for sure. For sure.

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