Interview with Hart Hanson & Stephen Nathan from Bones

Two of my favorite people from behind the scenes of one of my favorite TV shows ever, Hart Hanson & Stephen Nathan, recently spoke to the press about their show, Bones, which returns this week after the hiatus for baseball. They spoke about what’s coming up the rest of the season, how their decisions for last season’s ender continue to affect the team, and about how bad an actor the baby playing Christine really is (joking, of course. 😉 ).

On keeping the tension up between Booth & Brennan

Hart: Well so far, knocking on wood, this has been a very, very rich load for us to mine; the two of them living together with a baby and continuing to live lives and solve crimes. So far we don’t have to do anything big to throw a wrench into that machine anymore. It’s working just fine; lots of new stories. As many, I think, as we had at the beginning when there was just actual tension.

Stephen: I think what we’ve done this season, hopefully, is kind of give them stories that are overwhelming emotionally so we see how they react as a couple, so that we see how their relationship is tested. We’re doing that by keeping Pelant alive, by adding somebody to their household, which will happen soon, and also really putting themselves in situations that neither of them ever expected themselves to be in.

We have an episode coming up where Brennan has a near death experience, which really kind of causes her to reevaluate her life and see everything a little bit differently. So we’re just trying to move them along and have these characters evolve and not stay in the same place. So hopefully it will be surprising for everybody.
See the rest of what these funny guys had to say in jest and in all seriousness after the jump.

On how Brennan’s leaving & absence affects the rest of the season

Hart: It keeps coming up. In fact, it’s a factor in the episode that Stephen referenced, which is Brennan’s near death experience. I think it’s a lot of fun for us, as storytellers, to keep referring to—someone makes a very rational decision. It’s a very smart decision; it’s the right thing to do. It can still carry bad effects with it, resentment.

This season is them coming to grips with the fact that Brennan up and went with the baby, but it was the right thing to do. But there are consequences to everything.

Stephen: Also, Pelant is not going anywhere. They know he’s still there, they know his threat exists. So that’s kind of a cloud that hangs over the entire season. I guess in a way all of our people have their own version of PTSDs. They’ve all been completely changed by this war with Pelant and that won’t go away easily.

The Pelant story will reappear in January. Pelant is always going to be hanging over their heads in all of the episodes, but he comes back in earnest—we’re actually shooting the episode now and it will air in January.

Hart: It’s being directed by Rob Hardy and it’s one of the biggest episodes we’ve ever shot; very exciting. He will probably make another—two more—and perhaps we’re starting to talk about what our season ender will look like. He may or may not be a part of that.

On Sweets post-Daisy & staying with Booth & Brennan

Hart: You know what, it was started out as something that we were going to play out through one episode where Sweets needs—when he busted up with Daisy, he let her have the apartment. So he’s been kind of a bit of a nomad since then and they say come on in and you can stay with us for a few days. We were going to do that for one episode, but it was just too much fun. If Stephen and I have one fault out of many, it is that if something’s fun we’re going to stick there for a little while.

Stephen: It’s so rich because you have Sweets who’s the psychologist, Brennan who disdains psychology now in a house together where Brennan can kind of use psychology against her guest, which is—

Hart: She keeps reading his books.

Stephen: She keeps reading his books which he leaves in the bathroom and then comes out armed with all this new information, which drives him insane.

On Angela’s journey this season & how a roller derby murder affects her

Hart: We have no plans to move Michaela off the show. Angela, this is her season to start to think that her life was meant to be bigger than just recreating crimes and living in a life of murder. She’s feeling antsy, but I’m very speedy to say we have no plans to diminish Michaela’s involvement in the show.

Stephen: [This season], there’s murder at a roller derby team. It’s just another world that we’re entering into that we’ve never been in before. It should be fun.

Hart: Angela has a little bit of experience in this area.

Stephen: That’s right. Angela’s been roller skating a lot more than anybody knew. So she’s helping out in a case in a way that she wouldn’t normally otherwise.

Hart: And short shorts.

Stephen: This is somebody who’s been a little frustrated with her job. She feels that her life is being—she’s lived her life a little too safely lately and she wants to kind of break out a little bit. So getting slammed into a wall in roller derby seemed a good way to let that happen for her.

On Booth & Brennan going undercover and ballroom dancing

Stephen: It’s terrific. We have Mary Murphy and Tyce Diorio in it. It’s just a lot of fun.

Our undercover episodes are sort of gifts to the hardcore fans where we all get goofy. It’s sort of like doing shots every time somebody says something. That’s what our undercover episodes are. We just have a good time and David and Emily just love doing them and this one’s no exception. It’s a murder at a ballroom dancing competition and we find out in this that Booth actually taught ballroom dance when he was in college to make money.

Hart: Well, that’s what he thinks he was doing.

Stephen: Yes, he thought he was doing that. Sweets points out that he was probably just a gigolo for old women. But we have that from Booth’s standpoint. From Brennan’s standpoint, because of her phenomenal knowledge of kinesiology and anatomy, she believes that as long as she can look at someone dance, she can replicate that exactly. I can just tell you that’s not true.

Hart: I’ll tell you something weird about that episode. I watched David Boreanaz learn how to rumba in five minutes. He’s gifted. He’s a physically gifted guy.

Stephen: Seeing them move is really funny, and then we also have populated the episode with tons of winners and runners up from So You Think You Can Dance, so the dancing is really kind of remarkable. I mean—

Hart: If you like dancing, which apparently some people do. I don’t think enough dancers died, personally.

Stephen: Hart’s not a big dancer. I try to get him to dance once a day in the office and it’s very difficult. I twirl him around once and then he says that’s enough.

Hart: I throw up.

Stephen: I don’t know what his problem is.

On the upcoming episode, “The Patriot in Purgatory,” about 9/11

Stephen: I don’t think there’s anyone in the country who doesn’t have a very, very personal story about 9/11 and what happened on that day and how they were affected. I think we’ve been trying for a long time to do an episode that revolved around that event. We haven’t really found a way to do it up until this point and partly because the reality of that event should be revisited, and also, our characters were there. Brennan, in the first season we had heard that she was one of the forensic anthropologists on the scene and worked there for two weeks identifying remains as did Cam as a coroner in New York.

So we just wanted to try to approach this subject from a completely different point of view and from a very personal point of view rather than a political point of view. Also to deal with really not only the civilians that died but since that point, all of the service men and women who have been deeply affected by the events of that day and those people who had sacrificed their lives. The ones that we know of and the ones we still don’t know who they are.

Hart: Stephen had a great way into the story. It’s one of my favorite scripts that Stephen wrote, and his way into the story was to make the memories of 9/11 come from our squinterns. Where were they and what happened to them? That finally gave us a way into the story that didn’t seem exploitative or goofy.

Really, every single year we’ve talked about what is the 9/11 episode that we can do this year from the first year. We started in 2005 and finally here in the eighth season Stephen found a way to get in. I think it’s just super.

Stephen: Also what I think we found in that is that from the interns’ point of view, they were all very young. You don’t usually hear that and we do hear it from Cam and from everyone else and clearly it changes Brennan in a very, very significant way at the end of that episode, but it was really hearing what kids went through as well as adults. Of course we touch on religion a bit as we always do. It was a very important episode for all of us.

Hart: One of our squinterns is Muslim.

Stephen: The reality of the victim has a profound effect on everybody because this is someone who has been previously undiscovered. This is someone who has been in the Jeffersonian bone room for many years and has been anonymous up until this point. So giving someone an identity, someone who died, everyone’s life is worthy of respect and reverence and to have someone who was up to this point anonymous be given their identity back, their life back, is a profoundly moving thing for everybody.

Hart: We know that on 9/11 there were acts of great heroism done, great, great heroism, that nobody knows about. We just wanted to take a look at that, pull the veil back on one of those possible stories. That kind of thing has a huge effect on characters.

On whether we’ll see more family members or new squinterns this season

Stephen: We’re actually going to see someone that we don’t expect to see, a family member of Brennan’s that we would never expect to see. We’re prepping that episode now, but we will be seeing other family members. We haven’t worked those stories out. We’re in the process of working them out, but hopefully we can deal with Booth’s mother this season.

We’re developing another intern now as well and that script is being written so we have to see how that turns out. But we definitely do want to add another face on the show. Then we also have some people who we haven’t seen in a while who we might want to bring back too.

Hart: Pilot season’s coming up and our normal squinterns, we always have scheduling issues around pilot season with them so it’s behooves us to have one more in our quiver.

On baby Christine’s role & story lines in the show

Hart: That poor baby is terrible with dialogue. We can’t give that baby any dialogue.

Stephen: We were told the baby was trained in England, and I think the agent was totally lying to us because we give these huge emotional scenes between her and Brennan and we just have to cut them out. It’s like Brennan says something and the baby goes, goo, goo, goo and it’s just unusable.

Hart: Now that we’ve been hilarious on the subject, the baby—we have avoided having, for example, the baby be part of a murder investigation. But the fact that they have a baby, we always have to turn to each other and say, okay, where’s the baby, what’s happening now? They can’t just stay out all night. They just can’t do what they used to do. So the baby is sort of woven into the fabric of the show.

We don’t have any plans to, for example, give the baby a horrible disease or any of those things. We’re not using the baby as a source of that kind of plot. We’re just using the real stuff of raising a child through our stories.

Stephen: Christine will be in the episodes—actually we’re doing one now where Brennan’s a little concerned that maybe she isn’t developing quickly enough, but it’s not a serious concern. It’s more just Brennan being competitive with other parents.

Hart: Brennan wants her baby to be a genius, genius, genius baby, and she might take after Booth.

Stephen: It revolves around her ability to enjoy peek-a-boo, so you can tell it’s not that intense.
There you have it. Two of the funniest, passionate guys I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking with. (Unfortunately, I was unable to make this call, but I’ve spoken with them both in the past, and I love them. 🙂 ) The rest of this season sounds like it’s going to be fantastic. I’ve seen the first two episodes back (which includes the 9/11 episode), and I loved them both. Don’t miss them on Mondays at 8/7c on FOX.

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