Carrying on with the tradition of casting well-known actors in guest-starring roles as both a fun nod to the fans and the actors who just want to have a bit of fun, in the mid-season finale of PSYCH, Jason Priestley makes a cool appearance as the mysterious Clive who surfaces during Shawn and Juliet’s romantic getaway vacation in the episode “Neil Simon’s Lover’s Retreat.” In a recent conference call with press, Jason talked candidly about his character Clive and how he got the chance to appear on the hilarious comedy series PSYCH.
What drew you to make an appearance on PSYCH?
JASON: Well, I’ve always been a fan of the show, oddly enough. I started watching PSYCH back in the first season. Actually, I have a close friend who’s actually my children’s godmother is actually a controller at NBC Universal and she is the controller who controls PSYCH. So I’ve known about I knew about the show from its inception and I started watching it, and because I saw a very early version of the pilot I really enjoyed the show from that very early version of the pilot. So I was able to get the role through very nefarious channels that I can’t really talk about because I’m sure that the “copyright police” will come kicking through my door and take me away in handcuffs! But I’ve always liked the show and I’ve always been a fan of it, so when they called me up and asked me if I wanted to do this episode and they explained the episode to me and what it was going to be — and then they told me that Jennifer Finnigan was going to be playing my partner in this episode — I was even more excited by that because Jennifer and I have been very good friends for a very long time and I’ve been a big fan of her work, and just on a personal level, her and I have been very good friends for a long time. So it was a wonderful confluence of things that made this a lot of fun for me and something that I was very happy and very eager to be a part of.
Where did you draw your inspiration to play an eccentric character like Clive?
JASON: Clive’s a rogue and Clive’s a conman and the real thing the real thing with Clive – -it was that old saying “I never met a conman I didn’t like,” so I just sort of really took that to heart and made sure that Clive was as charming as charming could be. The really the big thing that me and Jennifer made sure was that the two of us were the very gregarious, loquacious couple that were very entertaining and kept every kept everybody laughing while we were reaching into their back pockets and stealing their wallets. That was the thing that we really worked — we really wanted to just keep everybody looking over here, while we were stealing their stuff over there.
What would you say are the most endearing characteristics and the most troubling characteristics of Clive?
JASON: Well, the Clive is very much in love with his wife and they are very much a couple and they are very much in love with each other, and that’s very endearing and it’s very cute. But the most troubling part of it is that at the end of the day, they are sociopaths, and they want to steal everything that you have. But you’ve got to take the good with the bad, you know what I mean?
Can you describe what you find interesting about the humor in PSYCH and how it complements your own sense of humor?
JASON: The humor and the way that they use humor in the storytelling in PSYCH is a very modern type of humor that I think we use a lot — we utilize it a lot in storytelling nowadays. It’s sort of what has led to the death of the sitcom really because it’s no longer “set up, set up, punch line.” “Set up, set up, punch line” is not what audiences want. They are too sophisticated for that and audiences want more out of their humor and they don’t like to have it spoon-fed to them like that anymore. They want more than to be – than to be told when to laugh by a laugh-track. And I think that PSYCH as a television show has been very successful in that genre, especially being a one-hour show. It’s been very successful, and now it’s in its sixth year, it was kind of an early pioneer of that one-hour comedy “dramedy” genre which has a lot of traction now in the television business, and they’ve been very successful in it. It has a lot of comedy and a little bit of action and it’s a “buddy show” and it’s got a little romance now. So it’s been very successful in crossing a lot of genres. I think also that audiences are very savvy now and audiences demand more out of their television and I think that PSYCH has been very successful in crossing all of those genres.
What do you think was the most challenging aspect of being on the show — was it dealing with Roday being so goofy and Dule cracking you up?
JASON: It was. All of mine and Jennifer’s stuff was with Roday and Maggie Lawson, and with Tony Hale as well. So it was really just the five of us. And, yes, the hardest part of working with James is keeping a straight face because he is a very, very funny man and so there are challenges inherent within that. But he and Maggie are both very professional and very prepared. You really have to show up on that set with all your material prepared and ready to go because — as it is in television — everything moves very quickly and you need to you need to hit your marks and get it right and be able to hit the funny in the first few takes because we got a lot of work to do. But it was a lot of fun. Those guys are very professional and we had a lot of laughs.
Are there any other characters on the show that you would have liked your character Clive to have more scenes with?
JASON: It would have been fun to have some scenes with with Dule or with Corbin Bernsen. Corbin and I have been friends for years. I could have had some stuff with Timothy. I put Timothy in a “movie of the week” that I directed about 10 years ago, so it would have been fun to get to work with him again because I haven’t worked with him since then. So I have a lot of connections to a lot of the actors on the cast of that show and it would have been fun to work with all of them because I know them all. Maggie and I worked together on TRU CALLING too. So it was it was nice to reconnect with Maggie as well. It just it was just great to be on the show and be there with all those people. It’s funny when you get to be an actor of my age and having been around this business for so long when I walk on sets — like when I walked on the set of PSYCH — I knew pretty much everybody on the set. It was strange. So it was kind of like being at work and just showing up and it was like, “Hey man. Oh hey, where were you?” It wasn’t like walking onto a new show, you know what I mean. It was very nice. It was a nice set to work on and it was a good place to be.
Since you have known so many people on PSYCH and you knew about it from the beginning, do you know if they had you in mind for this character or if it was just kind of happenstance casting?
JASON: I don’t think they had me in mind per se, but I think that once my name was suggested in the producer’s office, I think everybody thought it was that was a wonderful idea. And I’m just very happy that I happened to be available and able to go up there and do it because it really I really did have a wonderful time up there. Jennifer and I had a great time working together. Like I said, she and I have been friends for a very long time and have never worked together and it was really a lot of fun to get to work with her and we just had a great time together.
Were you a fan of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT and Tony Hale before you worked with him?
JASON: I certainly was. I was a big fan of that show and I was really sad to see that show get cancelled the way that it did. I thought it was horrible. Jason Bateman and I have been friends for 20 years — man, I’m way too old! — so I was really sad to see that show go the way that it did. I didn’t know Tony before we went up there to do PSYCH together, and he was fantastic. He was great in the episode. He’s really funny. And yes, man, he was really cool.
If they did a Despereaux thing and you guys broke out of jail, would you come back to do PSYCH again?
JASON: Oh, absolutely! Yes. I certainly would. I had a great time on the show. It was a lot of fun.
Which scene did you most enjoy filming for this episode?
JASON: I think the scene that we had the most fun with was the cake scene in the restaurant with me, James, Maggie and Jennifer, then Tony comes into the restaurant and we talk about his watch and all that stuff. That was a lot of fun, that scene. We had a good time shooting that scene that day.
It’s interesting that you mentioned Clive is very sociopathic and morally complex, like your character on CALL ME FITZ. Are you drawn to those particular types of characters – those that have a moral complexity, but who are also very charming?
JASON: Well, yes. I think those types of characters, as an actor, provide more challenges and they also provide more opportunities because they are more complex. Characters who tend to be more altruistic tend to also be more boring, to be perfectly frank. So it’s characters that are more complex are just more interesting and more challenging and more fun to play.
Do you have any guest spots lined up or are you pretty much still on the directing track and working on CALL ME FITZ?
JASON: Well, we just finished shooting our third season of CALL ME FITZ and I just got back here to L.A. literally a week ago. So I just got back here and it’s the holidays now and I’m going skiing on the weekend. So I’m I’ll figure it out when the holidays are over.
How would you describe your journey as an actor?
JASON: I think it’s the journey that most actors take. You’re always looking for new challenges and you’re always looking for different characters to play to challenge yourself. As an actor to continually play the same character over and over again would be boring and that’s not the life of an actor. The reason to become an actor is so that you can play a myriad of different characters, and thus to continually play the same character over and over and over again would be counterintuitive to the whole process.
Do you have a favorite project you worked on in your career?
JASON: Wow. That’s difficult. I’m so hyper-critical of everything I’ve ever worked on. I’m very, very proud of all the work that we do on CALL ME FITZ. I think that’s a fantastic show. I’m really hyper critical of everything. I think “Love and Death on Long Island” was a beautiful movie. I think maybe those. I think “Tombstone” was a great movie, but they cut so much of my work out of it. But it was still a great movie. I don’t know, it’s tough. I get so hyper critical of so much of my work. It’s difficult.
What you can tell the audience or the fans to be psyched about in the upcoming episode of PSYCH?
JASON: Well, the whole episode is very funny and I just remember how good Jennifer Finnigan was in the episode. I thought she was outstanding. I think what should the fans be looking out for is that it’s a classic episode of PSYCH. It’s a lot of laughs and there’s a little romance, there’s a little adventure, and it’s everything you want. It’s got it all — and it’s got me, Jason Priestley!
To see what mischievous adventures and shenanigans Jason’s character Clive finds himself amidst, be sure to tune in for the PSYCH mid-season finale on Wednesday, December 14th at 10PM on USA Network. Catch up with past episodes you may have missed for free online at clicktowatch.tv
Tiffany Vogt is a contributing writer to TheTVAddict. She has a great love for television and firmly believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored – she invites you to join her. Please feel free to contact Tiffany at Tiffany_Vogt_2000@yahoo.com or follow her at on Twitter (@TVWatchtower).