Emily S. Whitten: SDCC Part 3 – Notes from the Psych Press Room
Psych is a warm and engaging and frequently hilarious show, and having spoken to the cast and crew at SDCC, I can attest that they are just as much of a blast to talk to as the show is to watch. I got to sit down with James Roday, Dulé Hill, Cary Elwes, Timothy Omundson, Maggie Lawson, Kirsten Nelson, Corbin Bernsen, Steve Franks, Chris Henze, and Kelly Kulchak and dish about the show. Here’s what I learned.
The Psych cast sings around the set a lot, and loved doing Psych: The Musical (which will air in December), and actually singing for the cameras.
Kirsten Nelson: “It was exciting to do! It was a whole lot of fun to go into a recording studio to record the songs and play it back for the crew, who were excited to hear us sing. They hear us singing, goofing around all the time, but now they’re like, ‘Oh my God, that’s an orchestra backing you, and you guys sound good.’”
Dulé Hill: “I liked the opening number, which really represented what our show is about, and all the things happening in the background there; and the Jamaican bit. Steve wrote that for me and it was a lot of fun.”
James Roday: “I was surprisingly moved by Mary Lightly as an angel sending off Yang’s number. Just because, like Despereaux, Yang is a character that we’ve kind of truly built into the fiber of our show; and without spoiling too much, I felt like it was the end of something, within the framework of our show. And I thought it was very well executed.”
The newly introduced Harris Trout (Anthony Michael Hall) is going to cause chaos in Season 8:
Kirsten: “He wreaks havoc on all of their lives, and the SBPD is turned upside-down. I’m not in those episodes; the guys aren’t hired for stuff; and Lassiter is demoted. He’s wearing his blue uniform – he’s a beat cop again!”
Cary Elwes returns in Season 8 for another Despereaux episode, and it’s going to be epic:
James: “It’s pretty rad, you guys. We go to London (and it looks a lot like Vancouver) and we get involved with some Guy Ritchie-like gangster hi-jinks; and right in the middle of it all is the return of Pierre Despereaux, throwing us yet another curveball.”
Dulé: “As always with Despereaux, you never know what to believe.”
James: “You never know what’s real and what’s not.”
Cary Elwes: “Vinnie Jones joined us for some fun, and man, we just laughed our way through this entire episode; it just was so much fun.”
James: “And it was a new kind of color and flavor for Cary to play as well.”
Cary: “A really funny episode; I can’t wait to see it. I had a lot of fun doing it. Every time I get the call to come and play with these guys, I’m ready to go. I have more fun working on this show than any other show I’ve ever done.”
Steve Franks is a Sherlock Holmes fan, and the London gangster episode is not only a little bit Guy Ritchie, but also a little bit Harry Potter:
Steve Franks: “Certainly, Psych was inspired by Sherlock Holmes, The Great Observer; and since then they’ve made a few of these Sherlock Holmes movies, that Guy Ritchie has done. I was really excited to see those, because in those they do a thing where Holmes sees things almost like a Shawn vision. It was very cool how similar that is. Then that gave me license to totally go and rip off Guy Ritchie, and we’re doing a London gangster episode – but that’s too straightforward for a Psych episode – so that’s where I took Harry Potter and mashed those two together. So we have an episode called, ‘Lock, Stock, Some Smoking Barrels, and Burton Guster’s Goblet of Fire.’”
Season 8 focuses on the core characters:
Maggie Lawson: “I don’t think in Season 8 so far we’re getting into our families as much as we are “this” family. I think we’re dealing less with the outside relationships; it’s a very core season. We’re really in it with each other, not so much family members. Although I would love to see another family member turn up, because I have the coolest family ever. Jeffrey Tambor, and William Shatner, and John Cena. Like, who’s next?”
Timothy Omundson: “It could only be topped by Sean Connery playing your grandfather.”
Maggie: “That would do it!”
Season 8 will be a season of changes and emotional rollercoasters:
James: “There’s definitely more emotional stuff coming; I think we’re just at that point in the run of the show. Last year kind of opened the gate for some more character-driven stuff to happen. It’s more of a character-focused season than we’ve had in the past.”
Dulé: “I also think the characters are realizing that it’s time to move forward. You can’t stay stagnant. So there are a lot of changes happening in the characters’ lives.”
Timothy: “Shit gets real in the SBPD in Season 8.”
Maggie: “It really does. I’ve heard Steve say that it’s a bit of a rollercoaster, Shawn and Juliet (dealing with the aftermath of Season 7’s episode ‘Deez Nups’) in Season 8; and I think that might be an understatement. It’s pretty intense.”
Timothy: “Season 7 cracked the door; Season 8 blows it off its hinges. It’s like a garage door blowing off its hinges – which actually happened to us in Season 3, by the way, by accident, and almost turned us into collateral damage! Season 8 is just so big and so intense and so emotional; it’s unlike anything we’ve done.”
Can Juliet forgive Shawn in Season 8?
Maggie: “I think as with any couple that truly loves each other, there come these times when it’s like, ‘Are we in this forever, and is forgiveness on the table?’ I think Juliet definitely has it in her to forgive him fully. I think there was part of her that was enchanted by the idea that he might really have been psychic, but there was probably a seed of doubt. Maybe why it hurt so bad is that they’d been together for so long, and it took that long for him to tell her.”
Timothy: “…And the fact that he’s a lying son-of-a-bitch?”
If Juliet had never met Shawn…
Maggie: “Juliet definitely would have married a Miami Dolphin.”
Dulé Hill really does have a super-sniffer, at least when it comes to finding nearby food.
Dulé: “I’m always snacking on something off-camera.”
Cary: “And he never puts on weight; it’s incredible.”
Dulé: “It’s my little secret.”
James Roday does not like being wet or hung upside-down:
Steve: “Who tells us no on set? Nobody tells us no; that’s why we get away with it!”
Chris Henze: “Sometimes James tells you no if you say, ‘We’re going to do an episode where you jump into this water; and then you’re going to be wet…”
Kelly Kulchak: “…and then you’re going to be on a horse.’“
Steve: “James doesn’t like to be wet or hung upside down. Those are the only things that he’ll say no to.”
Corbin Bernsen likes to think Shawn is actually (to use the term loosely) psychic:
Corbin Bernsen: “I [Henry] taught him observation, right? But I didn’t teach him the conclusion to the observation. So you might look at two clues, and she might look at two clues; and you both see them, but what do you conclude from them? I could argue that there is an ability, that’s somewhat psychic, to say ‘I know that connects him to the murder,’ when someone else doesn’t see it, though you’re both looking at the same thing. So I would say that he is a psychic, and he’s not fake.”
Steve Franks is Shawn and Gus:
Steve: “This is the weird thing – Shawn and Gus are equal parts of my personality. I am a person who is terrified to go open one of those doors over there to walk into somewhere; but at the same time I have all of Shawn’s quips and snotty remarks. So I’m constantly at war with myself at all times. So it was sort of born out of that idea. And my desire, and the way that we sort of run the show, is that our life is the constant search for fun. And how much is too much; and how much is getting in the way of becoming an actual self-realized human being. So for us when we break stories, it’s like, “Ooh, what roles do we get to play?” It was mostly born out of the two sides of my personality. It’s well-represented in the cartoon strip Calvin & Hobbes.”
Steve Franks would happily do Psych forever (or an approximation thereof):
Steve: “We’ll do it for as long as they’ll pay for our episodes. We love doing it; we’ve been around awhile; we’re going to do it in any incarnation we can. I’d like to ultimately do Psych movies every once in awhile.”
Man, I’d love to see that, and I’ll say this: as long as they keep doing awesome episodes of Psych, I’ll keep watching it!
Thanks to the cast and crew of Psych for sitting down with me for these interviews, and to USA Network for setting it all up.
And until next time, Servo Lectio!
THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil
THURSDAY AFTERNOON: Martin Pasko
THURSDAY EVENING: Yep! More Emily S. Whitten!
(note: all times vague but Eastern-USA)