Tomorrow night’s episode of Royal Pains, “Dancing with the Devil,” marks the directorial debut of Paulo Costanzo, who plays Evan Lawson. We chatted with Paulo about the show and what it was like to direct.
On what it was like directing his coworkers:
“They were very supportive. Everybody on the crew was very aware that this was my first time. This is my first time directing anything. I’ve directed a couple short films, but I’ve never actually directed a feature or a TV show. So they all knew how big it was for me. Also Mark [Feuerstein] was incredibly supportive because, you know, he has directed the show twice and I was so utterly supportive of him. He more than returned the favor. I felt very safe.
Directing them was amazing because I got to see a different side of them. And I was actually very nervous about that because I didn’t know how they were going to take to me giving them direction. But it turned out to actually be very good. And if I had to run a diagnostic of how I did as a director, working with the actors was one of the things I felt more confident in and got the best feedback about.”
But no one pulled any pranks during his directing:
“Absolutely not. If anything, nobody would have in any way risked that. It’s an anxiety-ridden thing. Every director – I called about four or five of the directors that have worked on my show who I admire in preparation for the show and all of them said ‘Don’t be weirded out if you puke the night before’ and I was like ‘shut up.’ And I swear I almost did. I was so nervous the night before.”
On acting and directing at the same time:
“Well for me obviously of this was a learning experience. Like every day I had about 100 firsts. My first day was a huge – there was a six-person dinner table scene – which for those of you who don’t know dinner table scenes are one of the more daunting things to shoot because you have to shoot 30 different shots around the table to make sure you get eye lines right and everything. I knew I was in for a challenge that day. And I was in it and I was in every other scene that day basically almost. What I learned very quickly is that it’s very taxing. Granted, if you’ve done it a lot, I imagine it gets easier obviously. For me it was incredibly like ‘Oh my God it was so overwhelming.’ But at the end of each of the days where I was in a lot of it, I had a sense of my brain was about to literally just implode and shut down. But I felt a huge sense of accomplishment because it is a lot. There’s so many things going on that you have to – your mind never stops. And frankly I’m a person who thrives on that, so I actually enjoyed it.”
And he eventually got past his anxiety:
“To be honest, so I’ve talked a lot about how much anxiety was involved. Once I was there, like once all the pieces were set and I had blocked the scene and, you know, I knew what the cameras were doing and I just would sit in my chair and look at the monitor, this incredible calm came over me – which is why I feel that [directing] is kind of something I want to pursue now. This beautiful calm, this amazing feeling of calm in the midst of this storm, I was like ‘This feels so utterly comfortable and right.’ I didn’t expect that. I think I was just too anxious about the whole thing that I didn’t foresee an eye of the storm like moment where things just perfectly still.”
His grandmother was less than impressed with the episode:
“I finished it and I said, ‘So, Grandma, did you like it?’ And she said, ‘No.’ And I said, ‘Well, you didn’t like it? Why didn’t you like it?’ She’s like, ‘Well, it’s not that special. You see much better things on the TV, don’t you?’ And I was like, ‘Anything else?’ She’s like, ‘It just wasn’t good. I’ve heard better singers too. I just didn’t like it.’ And then I said, ‘Anything else?’ She goes, ‘The words, I don’t understand. I didn’t know what they were saying.’ And I laughed really hard. I laughed really hard and she had no idea why I was laughing. She’s like, ‘What are you laughing at?’ It was beautiful.”
But fans love Royal Pains. Here’s why Paulo thinks it’s so popular:
“I think it’s very easy to watch. I think it’s true escapism. It’s beautiful – literally beautiful to look at. It brings you elements of every genre – whether it be action or comedy or drama – and it’s all wrapped up in this kind of nice package that USA seems to do so well.”
Don’t miss “Dancing with the Devil” on Wednesday, August 29 at 9/8c on USA Network!
(Image courtesy of USA.)