Best known for its outrageous homages to cultural icons, including fun references to films and television shows past, as PSYCH prepares for its sixth season, stars James Roday and Dule Hill chatted a bit “tongue in cheek” with the press in a recent conference call about to expect as the hysterical series about a fake psychic detective returns.
Could you talk a little about the upcoming Halloween, Indiana Jones, and Cuckoo’s Nest-inspired episodes?
JAMES: Yes, we did in fact deliver on those other ones. Those are in the can. Those are fully produced and being mixed.
DULE: We also have a “Shining” episode this year too.
JAMES: “Shining” is what you get in place of “Clue.” So we still felt like we should swing big. Halloween is the vampire episode. And I think it’s airing the week of Halloween.
Are there any special guest stars in the Halloween episode?
JAMES: Kristy Swanson, the original Buffy, and Corey Feldman, one of the Frog Brothers from “The Lost Boys,” and Tom Lenk, a regular on BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER TV Series.
That’s a lot of BUFFY guest-stars.
JAMES: Yes, we went double BUFFY.
DULE: And Blacula makes a guest appearance also.
JAMES: Guest appearances, Blacula and the Vampire Lestat.
Can you talk a bit about the Indiana Jones episode and working with John Rhys-Davies?
JAMES: That episode came out really well, and it’s also the third installment of the episodes involving the Despereaux character, played by Cary Elwes. And for my money, it’s the best of the trilogy for sure and a lot of fun. And yes, John Rhys-Davies was a blast man. We didn’t get to work with him a ton but he came in and he was kind of bigger than life and sort of what you would imagine. And he was a real sweetheart.
DULE: Fun guy to work with. Full of energy.
About the “Clue” episode, is it definitely off?
JAMES: It is not off, it’s just not a part of our 6th Season. It’s still very much in the hopper and all of the key players are still committed, we just weren’t able to shoot it this season because of various scheduling conflicts. But it’s on tap for next season — knock on wood — probably the first or second episode.
Can you talk about about some of Gus’s upcoming nicknames this season?
JAMES: Oh wow.
DULE: I don’t know. Roday, what are some of the nicknames? Once they come and go, I kind of forget about them until they air.
JAMES: The only one I can remember is because I just finished watching the cut for “Shining” yesterday and we do Eddie Adams from Torrance, which I believe is a “Boogie Nights” reference.
DULE: Okay, okay. I’m kind of blanking out. I’m sorry I don’t have a better answer. I can’t remember some of the names I’ve been called this year.
What can you share about the Joey McIntyre episode?
JAMES: That was our Superhero episode. There’s like a vigilante superhero like combing the streets of Santa Barbara, cleaning them up one bad guy at a time. And it may or may not be Joey, we don’t know.
What are the possibilities of seeing the remaining members of High Top Fade Out with all the members of New Kids on the Block on the show one day?
DULE: It would be a fun PSYCH-Out. I don’t know. I mean I don’t know if that’ll ever happen. That’s a lot to ask. I think we can maybe work it out where we can get some members of High Top Fade Out and a member of New Kids on the Block all in one season. I think we can make that happen this year.
What’s your favorite PSYCH-Out that you’ve done? They all seem like so much fun, but what’s your favorite?
DULE: For myself it would be either the one we did with Joey, which because when you start involving real, you know, musicians and real singers and real artists singing their own songs with you, you can’t really top that. It would be the one that we did with Joey, and then it would be the original one that we did in the pilot, “Man in the Mirror,” because that’s kind of what started the whole machine going with the PSYCH-Outs. And that was just really just Roday and I having a lot of fun off camera. And then we got to the final shot just, “You know what, let’s put it on tape. Let’s just do it.” And it turned into this whole big PSYCH-Out phenomenon so.
JAMES: Yes, and in the spirit of doing PSYCH-Outs with the original artists, I’ll mention a drunken rendition of “Head Over Heels” that we did with Curt Smith.
What kind of nuggets do you have planned for the fans this season, like Gus’ nicknames, pineapples and such?
JAMES: Well there’s definitely some nicknames, there’s definitely some “Gus Don’t Be’s.” One that we’re particularly proud of that you’ll see in the Jennifer Lynch episode entitled Guillermo del Toro presents (“Autopsy Turvy”), which will air late in the season. So asterisk that one for a Gus Don’t Be. I don’t want to spoil it. And I believe there’s still a pineapple every episode. I think that’s just a machine that kind of takes care of itself.
What is one of your favorite nicknames from the show?
DULE: My favorite is always the original. I’m guess I’m a big fan of the original ones, like Gus “Silly-Pants” Jackson. One, because it made Gus a Jackson, you know, and I’m a big fan of the Jacksons so; and then it also caught me off guard when Roday first did it and I was like, “What did this cat just call me? Did you just call me Silly-Pants?” But that’s my favorite.
What is your favorite Season 6 pop-culture reference?
DULE: I’m going to have to like tap out on that one because I’m really blanking out on the references this year. And I don’t know if it’s just because we just finished and I kind of just dumped everything out of my mind. But as I’m going back and trying to think I cannot really come up with, just on top of my head. But that one I’m going to tap out on.
JAMES: There’s a visual reference in our vampire episode where we’re in a very strange vampire bar and we approach the bar and the bartender has his back to us and when he turns around to face us there’s a music queue and the actual casting of the bartender that comes together to create what I feel is a pretty delicious ‘80’s visual reference. So I’ll go with that.
What was it like working with William Shatner, who plays Juliet’s dad this season?
JAMES: The man is — I mean he’s an icon obviously — but watching him work was an honor in and of itself. I mean he’s a machine. He was totally invested. And I say this is not me editorializing or exaggerating, he had the heaviest load that we’ve ever given a guest star on our show. He pretty much drives the entire episode. He had the same schedule as Dule and I, and it was just remarkable. I mean not only did he know everything, he had questions, he had thoughts, he had concerns. You know, he was modulating his performance and he really, really wanted to knock the role out of the park. And then to top it off, when the weekend came and Dule and I basically beach ourselves and recharge our batteries so that we can get back to it Monday morning, he flew to Calgary and did two live shows on Saturday and Sunday, and then flew back to Vancouver and was back at work at 6:00 am Monday morning. The man is 80 going on 20. And like I said, “It was humbling and it was a really honor just to watch him work and pick his brain and be around him.”
How did William Shatner’s character respond to Shawn? How does he take to Shawn? I imagine they locked horns a little bit.
JAMES: Well, we had some fun there because it’s kind of like, you know you can’t snow the snowman, you can’t con the King of Con, so he kind of had the ability to see right through Shawn and that made things really interesting. And then Shawn of course sort of fired back by seeing through him and calling him on all of his BS. So we had sort of an interesting game of one-upsman-ship and a little bit of a chess match going on, with the common thread of course being that they both do care very much about Juliet.
Now that Shawn has Juliet, Gus is all by himself. Is he ever going to have a longer relationship than like an episode or two?
DULE: I think we’ll have to see what happens in Season 7. But in Season 6, he makes a valiant effort to attain that. He goes for it. You know, you can’t blame Gus for trying in Season 6. He’s actually is throwing his hat into the ring and he’s out there, you know, really trying to make it happen. But we’ll see what happens going into Season 7. Maybe he’ll get past the one-episode love interest then.
We found out last season that Lassiter found out about Shawn and Juliet. How do you think that’s going to affect their relationship with him?
JAMES: You know, it’s a little touch and go out of the gates, but Lassiter himself finds love this season and I think that kind of helped cushion the blow. And it’s pretty much back to business down the stretch.
Are we going to see more development between Henry and Shawn’s relationship this season?
JAMES: I think it’s less relationship-driven and more just Henry-driven, in terms of where he is, and where he is in his life, and what he wants, and stuff like that. The season finale addresses some of that stuff. But he’s still at the police station and they’re forced to sort of work with one another on a daily basis so that’s still happening. But then I think we take it a little further with Henry towards the end of the season.
Do you think Juliet is inspiring to female viewers?
JAMES: I think Jules has come a long way. I think she was a junior detective when the show started, and Maggie looked like she had just graduated high school. And if you kind of track the evolution of that character I think it is is a little inspiring. I mean we’ve kind of watched both the actress and the role/the character kind of come of age on our show. And she’s pretty tough and she takes care of business. But she’s still very feminine and all of that is sort of in place as well. And considering that she isn’t Shawn or Gus, and isn’t at the forefront of every episode, I think it’s a nice character to cite on TV, sure.
The show has done a whole bunch of themed episodes, like the Twin Peaks episode, is there something you haven’t done yet? Is there something you really want to do that just hasn’t happened?
DULE: Well, I know Steve Franks has talked about it for a couple of seasons now and it hasn’t actually happened yet, but I hope that in Season 7 we can actually make the musical episode happen. I mean that’s how I started in the business — doing musicals — so it would be great to bring that to PSYCH and be able to sing and dance in an episode, and not just in a PSYCH-Out.
JAMES: Agreed. Yes, I think that’s kind of the pinnacle of theme episodes that we’ve yet to do. So that’s the Big Apple that hopefully we’ll be able to slice up and feed to all of our fans. You know it’s tricky, it’s not something that you could throw together. You know, other shows have tried it to varying levels of success and I think because Steve has such a love for music. His band sings our theme song, so it’s really important to him to hit a homerun with it. And I think he realizes — and I think it really hit him this past off-season — like just how much work it’s going to take to do it right and that’s why he postponed it. But I think he’s committed and I expect it to happen next season. . . . I think he knows that. And but the good news is he’s got a “game” cast and he’s got his own band and they’re songwriters – and it’s just a matter of putting in the time and you know, we should be able to execute.
This show has had so many guest stars in every single season, and this one is no different. So do you guys have any initiation rituals? How do you bring them into the PSYCH family?
DULE: We don’t have initiation rituals, we do have I guess, sendoff rituals.
JAMES: This is true.
DULE: Yes, whenever a guest star has wrapped, we always send them off with a Happy Birthday song by the PSYCH cast and crew, which I’ve got to say, “We sing pretty well.”
JAMES: It’s the one song everybody knows and we’ve been able to really start playing with some unorthodox harmonies and crescendos. I think the guest cast get down with it.
DULE: They always cry.
JAMES: There’s always that initial sort of moment of, “But wait a minute it’s not my birthday.” But then they get it.
Having spent six seasons now with Shawn and Gus, of course you know the characters extremely well. But do you ever find yourself surprised by something that has been written into the script or that either one of you bring up in improv, be it an interest of Shawn and Gus’ or a reaction, or anything else of the sort?
JAMES: I get surprised two or three times a year, when our writers come up with something for the purposes of one episode that Shawn has supposedly had as part of his character for much longer than that, like a strange way of talking or a fear of something. A lot of times we’ll just sort of invent something for the purposes of an episode as a theme. And I’m suddenly sort of thinking, “Wow, that’s odd. I didn’t have that last week.” They’ve done that to me a couple of times this season. . . all of a sudden there was an episode where Shawn has a great fear of death and doesn’t know how to deal with it, which is odd because of course we were around death every week. But it served the purposes of the one episode that it’s in, so we rolled with it.
DULE: I’m learning how to expect the unexpected when dealing with the PSYCH writers, which – so I don’t really get too surprised when things come around. But having that mentality, I mean it leaves the room wide open for the writers to do what they do and come up with all these amazing stories and roles for us to get into. So that’s kind of my motto of each season is, “Expect the unexpected.” When you have Andy Berman, Todd Harthan, Steve Franks, Saladin Patterson — all these cats all in one room — you can expect something crazy’s going to come out of there.
JAMES: Yes, as a matter of fact. Our “Shining” episode will feature a brand new, completely different rendition of the theme song.
DULE: And we do get a re-run. We get a re-run of the Boyz II Men a cappella version.
Is there anything this season that you kind of learned about yourself or just in general, since this season started?
JAMES: That it takes less takes and less stairs for me to get winded when we’re in pursuit of bad guys.
DULE: I probably learned something about — I mean I like Vancouver but the love kind of starts to fade as my seasons go on. You know, the rain gets a little worrisome.
If you could have any crossover with whatever show, which would it be?
DULE: USA Network? I would want to do WHITE COLLAR. I mean, that’s on the air right now, I would say WHITE COLLAR. A show that was off the air ? I would still go back to MONK.
JAMES: Well, if it’s any show I would say we should crossover with THE WALKING DEAD because I think we’re due for a zombie episode.
DULE: For myself I would say if it’s any show I would say, MODERN FAMILY, because I just love the show so much. And I think it would be fun to have Shawn and Gus interact with all of those characters over there.
If you could replace each other with a different actor for one episode, who would it be?
DULE: I would replace myself with Deon Richmond, who is the real “Bud,” to see if anybody noticed the difference.
JAMES: I would – for one episode — I would replace Dule with David Bowie. It would be a different take on Gus, and I would get to work with Bowie. And I wouldn’t feel bad because I’d know Dule would appreciate the time off and he would be back the next week.
Is there anything you can dish about the season finale, is it a cliffhanger?
JAMES: Yes, it is fair to say there is a shocking ending that I hope our fans will not soon forget.
With more irreverent humor and crazy antics adding to the adventures of Gus and Shawn, be sure to catch PSYCH when it returns Wednesday, October 12th at 10PM USA Network. Catch up on past episodes you may have missed for free online at clicktowatch.tv