Psych is back on USA Wednesday, so we’re rolling out goodies from our blogger set visit. When we chatted with James Roday (Shawn), Maggie Lawson (Juliette), and Timothy Omundson (Lassiter), we found out they are all still unabashedly having a ball on the show.
One of the first topics of discussion was last season’s finale, when Henry was gunned down on the beach. Omundson says it’s not completely a first for the show to shock the audience. “We’ve ended pretty darkly in the past. Especially when James is at the helm,” he says. “I think our audience can certainly appreciate…when we can mix it up a little bit like that. And it’s not just always…Pez dispensers and unicorns.”
Roday teased that it was a necessary cast change. “The truth is, creatively we’ve been trying to figure out a way to get Corbin off of the show for years. So it was a sense of relief when…we thought that…this could be it finally,” he says. “I think after six years…you [have] basically shown every pitch that you have…in your arsenal [so] it’s fun to come up with something that…the audience hasn’t seen yet and it’s still Psych. It’s always going to be Psych at the end of the day. [But if] we can make your heart beat a little bit faster every now and then, I think it’s probably… healthy for everybody.”
Six years is a long haul for creating characters and each of the actors touched on the key moments for their characters and the show. “I feel like the “Yin/Yang” trilogy pushed everybody into a deeper place… in relationships and…how we all had to work together,” says Lawson. “When I think about those sort of turning points in the show, and when…things [got heavier], and we got into characters a little bit, those episodes come to mind.” It was also a chance for Lawson to do the Sarah Connor thing with a shotgun.
“I think for us, as actors, when you have a moment like that…the whole thing takes a turn and then…you rebuild from there. [You] have that with you as you [take] the journey. I feel like that’s one of the reasons we’re still here…because we’ve had those,” she says.
Omundson says it’s fun for him to realize that Lassiter is the “same loveable prick” he’s always been. “[One] of the big turning points…was obviously the divorce paper scene…again, directed by [James], because it was such a culmination. [That’s] when it was finally was sort of revealed…why he’s such a prick. [He’s] been so miserable and unhappy.” Omundson and Roday agree that Lassie finding love again has been important. “[To go from the divorce] to last season, Lassiter…learning…not only that he found [love], but that he was capable of reciprocating it [was] a big moment for him,” says Roday.
Omundson adds that even though Psych is something of a procedural, the relationships take it beyond that. “[That’s] what I want to watch when I watch TV,” he says. “I want to watch how these characters bump into each other.” Omundson says the characters have all sort of grown up on the show. “[It’s] so much more rewarding to me [that they’re all] stuck with each other, like [in] life.” He says that’s what makes it interesting as they watch it unfold every week.
Focusing on the guest stars over the years, Roday says William Shatner as Juliette’s dad was a great fit, which didn’t surprise him at all. “[He’s] a great example of bringing in a new energy that [fell] right in line with what we do,” he says. “We were never worried about fitting him in; we knew he was going to fit in [so we] could actually just focus on shedding some light on Juliette’s relationship with her dad.”
Roday says that experience has been replicated several times. “I feel like it’s often the case when we bring in actors that are associated with nostalgia of any kind. [People] say we love the 80’s, well partly we love the 80’s…but we also exploit the hell out of that. People feel comfortable with those actors because they grew up watching them and loving them, whether it was on TV shows or in movies. So it’s sort of like cheating and…we use that to our advantage,” he says. “We’ve been very lucky to witness some [special] stuff. [On] the Twin Peaks tribute…a lot of those cats hadn’t seen each other in 15 years. And we just sat there drinking vodka and crying while they all wept and hugged.”
As for what’s coming this season, Roday says we can look forward to an In-Laws homage with Jeffrey Tambor as Juliette’s stepfather, which Lawson was thrilled about. “I officially have the coolest family ever,” she says. We can also look for a Juliette-focused episode that’s a riff on Single White Female. “We’ve never done Barbet Schroeder on the show,” jokes Roday, “So I mean it was time. Way overdue.” And, has already been widely reported, we’re getting a musical episode.
When the chat turned to Shawn’s long-running ruse, Roday said the biggest fallout for Shawn would be personal vs. professional. “My feeling is that the big road block there is Shawn’s personal relationship with Juliette,” he says. “As far as the police and everything else goes, [they have] solved probably 160 murders…and [put] many people behind bars. The fact that Shawn may not be psychic probably isn’t going to ruffle that many feathers at this point, but you know, the fact that he’s been lying to…the girl that he wants to…make a life with is a different issue. So, it’s sort of the whole Batman catch 22.” Omundson adds that whenever that reveal happens, Lassie’s trust issues will never be the same.
The trio were asked about dream casting for guest stars. Omundson’s pick is Sean Connery. Roday says David Bowie. “[Our] unicorn…has been David Bowie since the very beginning of Psych. He remains the impossible dream.” To which, Omundson says, “It’ll never happen.” Betty White’s name was also thrown out as perhaps another relative for Shawn and/or Juliette and all agreed she’d be welcome in a heartbeat.
Roday was philosophical when asked about how the show has changed him personally. “This show’s been a gift in so many ways…where do you even start? It changed my life…as an actor because I’d never done anything that lasted longer than 10 episodes before. [And] then…it provided me the opportunity to write and direct and, sort of do the other things that I’ve always known that I wanted to do….not just once or twice, but many times and actually start getting better at them as well,” he says. “I feel like when, when Psych ends, because you know, it will end at some point…I just have a lot more tools in my bag. [How] can I possibly say thanks enough to the experience? Because where else could I have gotten that and so quickly, too.”
Omundson heaped praise on Roday for actually doing all of the jobs. “[There are] lots of stars of shows that get a vanity shingle for producing or they’ll get thrown a bone of directing or writing,” he says. “I’ve never come across someone in [his] situation who’s taken it and really f-cking done it and really done it so well and truly built upon each experience…so that’s been quite a thing to see sitting there.”
Lawson says it’s rewarding for her to watch Roday challenge himself. [He] tries to do something different every time he directs,” she says. “[Even the first episode he directed] was [and] still remains…one of my most favorite episodes of the show.”
Roday credits the crew with his easy transition across so many aspects of the production. “[There] is nothing better than cutting your teeth with a crew that you’ve been in bed with for years,” he says. [The] amount of love and support that I get from these guys is crazy. And that makes it so much easier.”
Omundson says many of the crew have been with the show from day one, and he thinks that the show’s location in Vancouver has helped them bond with each other. “[Here,] it’s actor camp and we’re sort of stuck together whether we like it or not. [One] of the great benefits of being out of town is the relationships we forged with our crew [and] our other cast mates, because every weekend, there’s going to be dinner. You know, there may be a cocktail or two.” Roday compares it to inmates running the asylum and says that wouldn’t have happened in LA. “It was a blessing [to be based here].”
That familial vibe was evident across everybody we met during our set visit. It was a treat to see that the joy we get onscreen is rivaled only by the affection they all have for each other offscreen.
Psych returns tomorrow at 10 pm e/9 pm c on USA Network. Check back for more from our set vist!