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Royal Pains Q & Aby Pattye Grippo    

This is a transcript of an Interview with Paulo Costanzo, hosted by Chrissy Fehskens on July 6, 2009, about the USA Network show Royal Pains.

Question:
What was it about the show Royal Pains that made you originally want to be a part of it?

Paulo Costanzo:
Well, you know, as an actor in L.A. between projects it's very competitive right now. So you pretty much, if there's a role that you like, usually there's at least 80 other actors who are petitioning for the same role. So I was in audition mode and this is one of the things that came across my desk because I have a giant desk as an actor, full of thousands of scripts. It's just a room that is a desk that I can also dance on top of if I want. Across that desk came this script and I thought the character was kind of easy for me. It just kind of fit instantly. A lot of roles you read and you're like okay, I know I have to start the character work and try to get to this place where I can play this guy. This one is just I already had it, kind of, inside me. So yes, I just went in with that in mind. That was a horrible answer to that question.

Question:
You have great on-screen chemistry with Mark. Is it something that happened instantly between you guys or did you do something to develop such a great rapport?

Paulo Costanzo:
Well when I went in for the first audition, I got the callback pretty much the same day. The callback was for a chemistry read, which means that they bring you in to read with other actors who have already been cast to see how you get along with them. So I went in for this chemistry read, and at that time I was reading for the best friend, not the brother. There was no brother in the script. It was just Hank's best friend, Evan, with some other last name. So I went in and I walked in the door, and I looked at him and he looked at me and I said, "Wait a minute. You look exactly..." and he finished my sentence by saying, "Like me!" And we both went, "What the hell?" And in my head I was like, I lost this role. There's no way I can play this man's best friend. I look exactly like him, just younger.

So at that point I said, "It looks like..." At that point I threw caution to the wind. It was just, like, I honestly feel like our Jew-fros, like if they got too close in proximity, they would just magnetize together and be almost impossible to separate, like Velcro. And he went, "Yes, I agree." And I said, "Let's try it." And we got close and we somehow strangely mimed this head mashing, which made the room laugh, which I thought was really funny. And I was like ah, and that's how we began our relationship.

Question:
They showed off some of your dancing skills on the show. Is it something that was choreographed or did you improv?

Paulo Costanzo:
That was written as a very short thing. Evan dances around the kitchen preparing for the thing passionately. And I came to Don Scardino, who directs a lot of 30 Rocks. I believe he's the producer of 30 Rock. And I said, "I'm going to go this week and get a choreographer, so I actually have a couple ballet moves I can throw in there." And he goes, "Aw, don't worry about it. No, I've got this great girl." And God strike me down I can't remember her name right now, but she choreographed everything for 30 Rock and everything for Saturday Night Live over the last ten years. So she's like a pro. And she showed up, and we worked for about an hour, and between the three of us we came up with that strange dance, which still makes me feel slightly uncomfortable to watch, but people seem to like.

Question:
I love your role as Evan and, when I was watching you in the first couple of episodes, your energy reminded me of Eric Roberts' Paulie to Mickey Rourke's Charlie in the Pope of Greenwich Village, your performance reminded me of that energy that he had with that role.

Paulo Costanzo:
That's a hefty compliment, me Lassie. Thank you.

Question:
I wanted to know how you fashioned Evan when you were reading the script. Obviously, in a two-dimensional script it doesn't have your juice yet, and I was wondering how you kind of infused or what things influenced Evan for you?

Paulo Costanzo:
I happen to have a couple of friends a lot like Evan. This is all kind of subliminal. I didn't think about this, but I do, I have a couple of friends who are very entertaining, always the life of the party, and slightly over-the-top and go after a lot of superficial things and are wowed by that stuff. That probably had something to do with it. But there are certain scripts that are just written in a way where, for whatever reason, I read it, and instantly that inspiration hit me and it was just kind of electric, and I didn't have to think about it. It just kind of went from there.

That's what makes it really fun. This whole thing has been, as they say, man, I feel almost guilty saying it, but it comes very easily to me, this character. So this whole four months in New York has been like summer camp for me. I just have to look over my lines and it's just kind of there and I just go, and I play and have fun. That's the fun part about playing the role that's more of the funny guy. I get to just go and just play around every day.

Question:
I thought Hanka Palooza sounded like a good idea to me. What other festivities does Evan have planned for later on down the road?

Paulo Costanzo:
To be honest, it's interesting to ask questions like that because I don't even know. They give us the scripts so late for this show, sometimes within three days of shooting it. So, I don't know, there's definitely some festivities that occur in the next couple weeks, but none that are Evan-initiated, sadly.

Question:
All right. I noticed his Italian was pretty bad. Can you speak any other languages?

Paulo Costanzo:
Yes, I'm half Italian. So my grandfather speaks heavy Italian... and I couldn't understand a word he said. And I realized he's getting up there, I'd love to be able to understand three words he says in my life. So I went and started taking Italian classes about a year ago and I took it for about nine months, so I know enough to understand and make sex jokes, but that's kind of it. For instance, "No, no, no. Mi piache, mi piache a verde seso con muto devere su tipo dimare mari con me mylalini, gondarone, mi amo..." I just said I like to have sex with many different kinds of animals like little piglets and baby shrimp. I love it. That's what I said. Lo amo, I love it. That was a fun episode. They actually wrote that because I told them I can speak some Italian.

Question:
Can you talk about some of the guest stars we'll see this season?

Paulo Costanzo:
Andy McCarthy's back next week in a much larger guest-starring role. And Rosalyn Sanchez showed up. She is utterly gorgeous and a really, really nice actress as well. And Brooklyn Decker, the swimsuit model, will be on the show. She's utterly the most lovely person and really hot.

Question:
Even though you're not a medical person on the show, what's the coolest thing you've learned around all the medical speak?

Paulo Costanzo:
Oh, dude, that's crazy. Well, I'm going to jump the tracks for a second here. This weekend I went to the Hamptons. This doesn't have to do with the show, specifically, but I'm interested in medicine more. And I met a surgeon up in the Hamptons and he told me, I said, "What's the craziest thing you've done?" just because he told me he loved the show. And he said, well, this one time there was a car accident and I stopped on the side of the highway and there was a guy in cardiac arrest. And he said with a pocketknife that he carries, a very sharp pocket knife, he cracked his chest, reached inside and massaged his heart, and he said he saved his life.

Question:
With a pocket knife?

Paulo Costanzo:
With a pocket knife in his hands. No sterilization. Nothing. He actually managed to save this man's life. So, these things do happen in life. They really do, and being a doctor is an incredible thing in life. Having one around changes the dynamic of any accident that happens around you. Suddenly, a fatal accident becomes something that's not fatal anymore.

Question:
We just came through this holiday weekend, so where does somebody who lives in the Hamptons go on vacation?

Paulo Costanzo:
That I do not know. I'm a poor kid from Toronto. All I know is that this weekend I was dragged up to the Hamptons and I ended up on a 170 foot yacht in a very Royal Pains-like moment, you know with all these really rich people, who all of them really love the show. It's really weird. In the Hamptons we've all become kind of mascots. Like, in New York, people have been stopping me and everything, but in the Hamptons people are just like, "Oh my God! It's Evan. Hey, where's Hank, buddy?" And so instantly I became this strange party favor, which was slightly uncomfortable, but they got me really drunk for free.

Question:
Do we find out why Evan's not eager to return to New York any time soon?

Paulo Costanzo:
I can't say, though I would love to. Nothing would please me more.

Question:
What are the major differences between acting on Royal Pains compared with your experiences on Joey?

Paulo Costanzo:
Well it's a sitcom versus a single camera drama - completely different mediums. A sitcom, you rehearse for four days of the week and then you shoot it all in one night in front of a studio audience. It's like a play every week, whereas this show, you just shoot it over a seven or eight-day period with a single camera. I enjoy this format of show much more. I'm a feature guy. I like making movies. So the four camera thing I didn't love it that much. I found myself slightly out of my element.

Question:
It's good to know that you're enjoying this one a lot better.

Paulo Costanzo:
Well, that's not what I said, my lady, but it's what I meant. I am enjoying this much, much, much more than Joey.

Question:
Good to know. How did you get into acting in the first place?

Paulo Costanzo:
In high school, my first thing ever was I played Tony in West Side Story when I was about 17. I was a really shy kid and I just like forced myself to learn how to sing this one month because I loved West Side Story so much and I somehow managed to get the role. I had an afro and glasses, and the guy who cast me goes, "All right, the first thing to go is the afro and the next thing, I'm going to buy you contacts and we're going to get you..." So he kind of molded me into what it had to - that's still probably the hardest role I've every played in anything, the most taxing role. But yes, that's where I started.

Question:
So how did you go from a play in school to where you are now?

Paulo Costanzo:
Well, I got an agent for commercials and shows, and I think I booked my fourth audition. I was a guest star in this really hilarious TV show in Canada called Ready or Not, like where every episode is about a girl like getting her period for the first time. But then I got another series called Animorphs and I played an alien for a couple of years. And then I just went completely out of work for about eight months and I was honestly considering changing lines of work because none of the casting directors in Toronto liked me and they thought my style was too idiosyncratic. Like, "Why can't this guy just say the exact lines on the script? Why is he always trying to make up his own lines and change the script?" And then I auditioned for Road Trip as a nationwide talent search and I guess they didn't feel the same way because I definitely improvised a lot of my audition and they gave me the part.

Question:
You mentioned before that originally your part was supposed to be the best friend. I'm just curious, are we going to see any of Hank or Evan's friends from New York in the Hamptons?

Paulo Costanzo:
I don't know. I don't know. Maybe. That's not in the game plan right now, but maybe.

Question:
Can you tell us anything about if Evan's going to find anything else about Campbell's mysterious creatures and other such strange things around the mansion?

Paulo Costanzo:
Boris is a bolt of mystery. So yes, that will be slowly unfolding. And as I say, I have no idea what it's going to be. I just know that that's a large part of the show because we love Campbell Scott and the character is just -from the get-go, they've established him as the intrigue of the show.

Question:
I know from the very beginning we have Hank's full story about why he ended up in the Hamptons and he doesn't care too much about going back, but Evan's kind of a mystery. So do you know anything about his back story, or do you just kind of like try to make it up as you go along?

Paulo Costanzo:
Well I do. I mean, yes, we've all talked about it but it's one of those things where it's a slow burn. We can't give up too much, too fast and that's part of what makes television is in keeping people watching to find that stuff out. So yes, I do know. I know. I know. I know. He was a prostitute. Sorry, I had to just let it out. No, he's definitely got a somewhat shady background. That's all I can say.

Question:
When we talked to Mark, he was talking about how the show's kind of like a guy's dream with all the pretty girls and everything. And so I was just wondering if Evan was just going to go from girl to girl or if you would like to see him kind of have a longer relationship?

Paulo Costanzo:
Well if you haven't noticed, Evan hasn't actually had sex once this entire season. Most people don't notice it. He's always chasing the girls but never gets one. In fact, I don't know yet, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he will not have sex through the entire first season of the show. So I just want Evan to get some action of any kind.

Question:
You have great comedic timing. Is it something that has always come natural to you, or have you had to work at it? Do you have funny parents?

Paulo Costanzo:
Comedy injections. It's like Botox but it goes directly into my eyeballs. Well I go home and I have an intravenous comedy bag that I soak in. I don't know. That's such a - yes, comedy pills.

Question:
Are you on Twitter?

Paulo Costanzo:
No, I'm not. I honestly don't really know what Twitter is to this day.

Question:
Really?

Paulo Costanzo:
I don't.

Question:
Are you on Facebook, or familiar with Facebook?

Paulo Costanzo:
I'm familiar with it.

Question:
You know the status updates?

Paulo Costanzo:
You know what, I don't. I'm on Facebook. I set up my account a long time ago. I've noticed that something changes. I don't every check it anymore, but I notice when I went on like a month ago that there's some strange - yes, it's no longer the same as it used to be. Now I know what people are eating and stuff like that.

Question:
Exactly. That's kind of what Twitter is. You can follow it on your phone and you can tell people what you're up to, and you can have conversations. And we're using it right now to enlist questions for you, but apparently everybody's eating lunch.

Paulo Costanzo:
Interesting. What would I? Who? So you're saying I could just be like, "Eating tuna steak, a little too dry. Nice and sunny out." That would be a good Twitter?

Question:
You would have thousands of followers immediately, yes.

Paulo Costanzo:
What? I don't understand, but why would anyone want this unless they're some strange egomaniac?

Question:
Exactly. You know, Brent Spiner's on it and he just harasses his fans.

Paulo Costanzo:
Did you say Brent Spiner?

Question:
Yes, which we love.

Paulo Costanzo:
I've worked with Brent. I've worked with him.

Question:
You have not. In what?

Paulo Costanzo:
Yes, I did, on Joey. That man... That man plays Data.

Question:
That's right.

Paulo Costanzo:
Are you kidding me? You don't understand. I loved that show growing up and when they cast him I was like over-the-moon.

Question:
Oh my gosh, dream come true.

Paulo Costanzo:
Yes. He's an interesting and strange man.

Question:
Yes. He's going through some weird thing on Twitter right now. I don't get it - what he's up to.

Paulo Costanzo:
I mean, I honestly feel bad for the guys on the Next Generation, only because that's like something that's like, it's like a mark on their entire career for the rest of their life. You've got to do something big, to outlive ... Data, to outshine Data. But he's cool. So, what if I was like, "I'm going to be at Macy's on the corner of 24th and 7th in an hour. Meet me there and I'll say hi."

Question:
Prepare to be mobbed.

Paulo Costanzo:
Do you honestly think that could work? It seems like such a dangerous tool in the wrong hands.

Question:
It can be. It can be. Yes.

Paulo Costanzo:
And let's make drug-dealing really easy though. It's like, "I've got a half-quarter. Who wants it? Here's my address."

Question:
"Meet me at Macy's." Yes. Yes.

Paulo Costanzo:
Nice. Do other actors Tweet? Like name another actor who's actually like, you know...

Question:
Jeffrey Donovan.

Paulo Costanzo:
Jeffrey Donovan.

Question:
From Burn Notice.

Paulo Costanzo:
Oh, yes. Anyone else?

Question:
Kyra Sedgwick.

Paulo Costanzo:
No way. Kyra Sedgwick tweets?

Question:
She does.

Paulo Costanzo:
Like what does she say? She's like, "I'm loving my coffee."

Question:
Yes, sometimes. Or she'll tweet from the set and say, you know, "We've just done this amazing scene and I can't wait for you guys to see it," which is just a big tease. It's just mean.

Paulo Costanzo:
It's so weird.

Question:
Yes, I know. There's lots of them.

Paulo Costanzo:
Thanks for the education.

Question:
You're welcome. If you do get on, let us know.

Paulo Costanzo:
I love it. I will. I promise. I never will get on Twitter, I don't think, but if something happens to me, and I'm like, "I need it," then you'll be the first one I call.

Question:
I think you're curious now. I bet you're going to go look.

Paulo Costanzo:
No, I'm not. I'm not curious. All right, yes, thank you very much. I appreciate it very much and I'm going to check out your Web site.

Question:
Cool. Thanks. I was actually wondering, a lot of USA is all about the characters and they like the promotions where they mix people together and act like they're kind of at the same time all over the world. And so I was just wondering if you could have somebody from another show on Royal Pains from USA, if you...

Paulo Costanzo:
Oh, you're saying the crossover?

Question:
Yes. Who would you want to do that with?

Paulo Costanzo:
What I would love is a crossover between Royal Pains and Burn Notice, that we could be involved in some sort of gun play intrigue.

Question:
That would be pretty cool. I think that should happen.

Paulo Costanzo:
I would really love that because we have no guns. We have nowhere near enough explosions and guns on the set.

Question:
True. Yes, but they give you a two-hour thing. They're back-to-back nowadays, so that would be good. I think you should tell somebody about this.

Paulo Costanzo:
Imagine if we showed up in the episode of Burn Notice, and in the episode directly afterwards he showed up in ours.

Question:
That'd be good. I think this should happen.

Paulo Costanzo:
I think you're absolutely right. I'll tell Bonnie.

Question:
Everyone likes books and stuff and it always seem like actors and musicians and everyone's writing their autobiographies. So I was wondering, if you wrote one yourself, what would it be called - your title, your awesome title?

Paulo Costanzo:
Let me think for a second. It would be called, Comedy Injections: Sex.

Question:
Is this an autobiography?

Paulo Costanzo:
No, it's just Comedy Injections: Sex. Not colon sex, I mean the actual, like, the punctuation mark, colon. You crazies.

Question:
I gotcha. Thank you very much.

Paulo Costanzo:
That would be funny, though. Comedy Injections colon.

Question:
See, now you like it, right?

Paulo Costanzo:
Oh no. I'm going to think about it.

Question:
Your next big project. Keep it on the back burner.

Paulo Costanzo:
Right. Okay.

Question:
Thanks.

Paulo Costanzo:
Thank you. I'm going to say one more thing. I would love it if you could, on the USA Web site, they were going to have me do something similar to what Jeffrey Donovan does on Burn Notice and do kind of, an Evan's tips thing which I didn't want to do it. So I came back and I told them that I wanted to do something a little more cinema verite.

So they actually came back and said yes somehow. And they're allowing me to do kind of my own behind-the-scenes - they just gave me a camera and I'm shooting behind-the-scenes and it's going to become kind of a video log on the Web site. So I'd love you all to check it out because it's going to be very kind of intimate and personal with just me and a camera.

As well, I've set up an e-mail account called evan.lawsoncfo@gmail.com and I would love people, if you're reading this or if you're seeing this, just to e-mail me with anything that you'd want to see behind-the-scenes. Just typically e-mail me and I'll try to address it because I have another month here, and I have a lot of time and a lot of tape to shoot.

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