Interview with James Roday & Dule Hill from Psych

Last week, I had a great time participating in a Q&A session with the stars of Psych, James Roday and Dule Hill. Psych returns tonight for the final 7 episodes of the sixth season, starting with the extended-length mid-season premiere tonight!

I was the first person to get to ask a question, and the moderator announced my name and said that I was calling for “TV Is My Pacifier.” So after my question was answered, they moved on to the next person, but the following transpired:

James Roday: …By the way, we should have told Kyle to suck it when we were done with his question, because his TV is his pacifier.

Dule Hill: Pacifier, you know what I’m saying? Should have said suck it. You suck it.

And when I got through the queue again to ask the final question of the session, I was greeted with James and Dule singing “Suck it, Kyle. Suck it.”

The call was a lot of fun! Jump with me for some of the highlights.

On whether the banter between Shawn and Gus is improvised

James: Yes, yes, we’ve sort of – 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 I, and luckily we’ve been doing it long enough that we can make it – we can generally make it sound like it belongs in the scene.

On upcoming parodies or tribute episodes

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

James: Thanks for bringing that up, man.

You know what? 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 adaptation – 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: Okay. Yes, Gus Duvall is in the house.

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

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

James: Yes, that’s true. That’s absolutely true. And then we also send up The Bachelor.

Dule: Oh, that’s right.

James: That comes later in the season.

Dule: Yes, that’s right.

James: So 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: Santa Barbara Town. See the play on words there, Chinatown, Santa Barbara Town? See how we do it?

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

On filming the upcoming The Shining-themed episode, “Here’s Lassie”

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 pretty – I thought it was just as creepy as the little girls in the movie quite frankly.

Dule Hill: Yes.

And the little boy too. The little boy breaking his little pinky, that little finger – that was pretty spooky for me, especially when we’re down there in the laundry room and he comes by the window. It’s like – that was pretty spooky.

James: Little kids and twins, man. You can’t go wrong with those, you know what I mean?

Dule: Two of the scariest things in the world.

On whether there are still plans to do a musical episode

James: You know what? That’s – 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.

It’s all on Steve Franks.

Dule: I think when we had a conference call – we have a conference call with Steve Franks, I think about 20 of you are asking the same question about a musical.

James: You know, to Steve’s credit, I think obviously we’re all very excited by the possibility of doing a musical, but knowing that there – you know, 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.

On whether there are still plans to do a Clue-themed episode

James: 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.

Dule: There it is.

On how they achieved long-term success after the early days of having Monk as a lead-in

Dule: I would say it’s a perfect storm. I mean, 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.

You know, creating a hit television show is – it’s not easy, and it’s – 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 say – to 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: And you mentioned Monk, which was sort of a great shepherd for us, and you know, the truth is, you know, 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: You know, and I think also – I think like having the – like 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: Right, and we get everything that keeps kind of playing into each other.

So thank you to the fans.

On how they come up with those nicknames

James: Well, you know in the very beginning, it – 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 a – 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.

On how the Indiana Shawn episode is more of an action adventure episode rather than a mystery who-dun-it

James: Yes, but yes, by design, I think that was sort of Steve’s take on this one, was to go sort of Spielberg adventure, swinging from things and running and blowing up boats and to jam, you know, 50% more action in than we have in the past.

On working with Cary Elwes and Rhys Davies in the episode

Dule: Well, 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: Yes, Cary’s the real deal. I would actually that’s probably my favorite of the Despereaux episodes. It was really a good time.

Dule: Definitely.

James: You know, that guy [John Rhys Davies] is bigger than life. There wasn’t even a moment to be intimidated. He – you know, he came over and it was kind of like – I don’t know. It was like working with Santa Claus or something almost.

You know, he’s got such – he’s got that big voice and that big personality and his laugh is really infectious, and yes, it was great. And I got the added bonus of working with Madchen Amick in that episode too, who was like my original TV crush. It was just lots of good stuff going on.

On other upcoming guest stars

Dule: Jaleel White, Makai Pfeiffer, Lou Gossett Jr., Wayne Brady, Greg Grumberg…

James: Anthony Anderson.

Dule: Anthony Anderson.

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

Dule: That’s right.

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

Dule: That’s something. I mean, I think people come to our show and they enjoy, you know, 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.

On whether the pop culture references are planned or decided on the spot

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

Dule: Right.

James: 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, you know, each opportunity we get to come back, you know, 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, you know, a song we’ve been singing, you know, in between takes. And we kind of – 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: I know, I think, because for example, … I was in my trailer one day, you know, and somebody emailed me or I’d seen it somewhere like on the Web, you know, “Ed Lover’s, 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. And then we – he – it made him die laughing, and by chance we were filming the episode that Bruce Davidison 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. You know, why don’t we have Ed Lover come out and do “Come on, son.” And it just happened. So I think it kind of…

Dule: …saying come on, son.

James: Bringing the original article.

Dule: You know?

On how Shawn and Gus are growing up and becoming more mature

Dule: I think you have to. I mean, I think, you know, we’ve been on the air for six years, going into our seventh. And you know, it would be false for us not to. I mean, 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, you know, with Shawn, you know, and getting more serious with Juliet, and even Gus trying to find his own significant other and things like that, I think that’s a – the general, or – that’s going to be the arc of the characters. Otherwise I think it’d just be getting boring if we kept doing the same exact thing as season one.

On what kind of crossover they’d want to see between Psych and any other show

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

James: 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, I think Gus would probably – he would probably warm up to the idea of vampires pretty quickly once he realized that – and they were interested in doing more than, you know, just talking to him.

Dule: I think you’re right about that.

And of course he wouldn’t say that. He would have had Sookie in mind, so…

James: That’s right.

Dule: You know Gus gets down with the vampires.

James: Gus and Sookie I think make a lot of sense, so…

On when Gus will get a steady love interest

Dule: That’s a good question. I’m – I hope that I – and Roday might be able to answer it better, being that – actually, I think you’re here in New York, now, but when you go back to LA, you might be able to answer it better. 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 wouldn’t – I don’t – just 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 and – or swinging and striking out.
That was it for the call. Thanks to James & Dule for being so entertaining and informative. Tune in tonight on USA Network at 10/9c!

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