Still having the time of their lives on the USA Network comedy series PSYCH, the show is continuing its long-held tradition of featuring a beloved homage episode each year. Previous years have included TWIN PEAKS, Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” and “Chinatown.” This season the big homage episode is for the film classic “Clue” for PSYCH’s 100th episode. During the press set visit, star Dule Hill talked about the big romance in Gus’ life this season and what it was like working with the stars of “Clue.”
Can you talk a little bit about Gus’ new love interest for this season?
DULE: Yeah, we have the lovely Parminder Nagra. She’s on the show this year, and Gus finally kind of takes a few steps into the relationship-world. It still doesn’t go exactly as planned, but so far, so good. I think it’ll be exciting for the audience to see. To see how Gus interacts in relationship-land. We’ll see how long it lasts though. I don’t know how long it’ll last. But it’ll be there for at least a little while. I’m a big fan of Parminder too, so the fact that she was able to come up and join us has been great.
Can you talk about how Gus and Parminder’s characters meet?
DULE: I guess being that we’re in 2012, and there’s new ways of dating and meeting folks with social media and all those kind of things that’s the, that would be the avenue that Gus takes.
Is this the same episode where Juliet has to create a fake dating profile?
DULE: Yes, it is. It’s the same episode, called “Juliet Takes a Lover.”
Can you talk about what’s happening with Gus and Shawn in the “Clue” episode?
DULE: In this episode, Shawn gets invited to a dinner and we don’t know who the host of the dinner is. Then I guess Gus becomes his +1 after Juliet is not available. Then it’s a turn of events where our past kind of meets up with us right now, and somebody we put away is the person who’s hosting us for the dinner. Then of course some people start dying, and then we have to figure out what’s going on. Should be a lot of fun. But I mean, working with these actors has been unbelievably great. Christopher Lloyd, Leslie Ann Warren, Martin Mull, Garrett Morris, and even Steve Valentine’s done a great job in his role. It’s just been a good time. I mean, you couldn’t ask for a better way to reach 100 episodes. To work with this group of people on the 100th episode is just the icing on the cake.
How familiar were you with “Clue” before this episode?
DULE: I was a fan of the actors. I wasn’t really familiar so much with the movie. I knew about the movie, but I’d never seen the movie. I just watched the movie for the first time the other day. But I’ve known who all the actors are, and have been fans of their work for years. I think the only person I haven’t met is Mr. Buddy. I haven’t worked with him yet, and haven’t worked with the housekeeper. But everyone else in the movie, I have worked with; all of the main characters, ’cause I even worked with Madeline Kahn back on COSBY years ago. So I’m just working my way through the “Clue” cast.
Will we get any more PSYCH music videos?
DULE: That’s a good question. They’re a lot of fun to do. I hope we get to do at least one more. Obviously, it’s just a matter of just finding the right song. But the marketing team at USA Network is great, and at some point, they’ll come up with something. It’s a lot of fun to do. I mean, that’s really where you get a chance to live out your childhood fantasy of being a rock-and-roll star.
What can you share about the PSYCH-Outs?
DULE: Where we mess up and all that? That’s pretty much how our day goes. I mean, that’s our day, every day, all day. We’re just there, laughing, acting a fool and a lot of times, we’re trying to mess each other up a lot of times too.
How much of that is intentional?
DULE: We try to mess each other up a lot. Especially if someone is starting to mess up, then, like, we’ll just keep throwing coals on the fire. Like, if Tim starts messing up, eventually, I’ll go, “Ding!” And he’ll say, “That’s not helping, Dule.”
What do you see is the growth of Gus for the last six seasons?
DULE: Going from the beginning of the show to now, Gus definitely stands up for himself more. He stands up for himself, and I think he’s owned more of who he is. I think at first he may have been not so comfortable in his skin, but now he’s very fine with who he is. He appreciates that he knows all this random trivia, and likes to eat food, and has a super-sniffer. And I guess really going to this season, the relationship ‘cause I think early on, Gus wasn’t really thinking at all about a relationship. He was thrilled to be moonlighting as a psychic detective. But now he’s looking for something beyond just hanging out with Shawn all the time. So I guess that would be the arc of it. It’s funny, I don’t really think about the long arc of characters like that. I just do the work. Like I take it as it comes, and the character evolves on its own. I don’t really put it in my brain so much as I more just live the character as he grows. It’s like asking myself, “How have you grown over the last couple years?” I don’t know. I’ve just lived. I don’t really sit back and think about how I’ve grown over the last seven years as me, Dule. It’s the same way I approach my characters. I just let them have their life.
Does Gus have a secret-life that Shawn doesn’t know about, like Shawn had a secret relationship for a while? Maybe Gus bought a house and didn’t tell Shawn.
DULE: No, Gus hasn’t bought a house. The only thing Gus has really been wanting to do over the last couple years, and I think it’s coming to fruition now, is getting into a more mature relationship. I think he’s wanted that for a while. I mean, early on in the show, no. But I think over the last couple years he’s wanted to have something more beyond just going to work and doing PSYCH. And as he’s getting older, he’s starting to realize that there has to be something more than this. At some point we’ll, at some point the ruse is going to be up, and people are going to figure out that Shawn is not telling the truth, and what is [Gus] going to do next? I also think him seeing Juliet and Shawn evolving to their relationship has kind of turned a mirror on himself. ‘Cause when it was just he and Shawn having fun, then it was, it was all fine. But now the time has to be split a little bit. So what is he going to with his time? It’s, “I guess I do need to think about life outside of here.”
How is Gus’s new relationship going to affect his relationship with Shawn?
DULE: I think they always have the bromance. I mean, no matter what happens, there will always be the core, even with Shawn and Juliet. Shawn and Gus are still extremely tight, and I don’t think anything will ever get in between. There may be challenges at different points, but really when it comes down to it, there’ll never be anything that gets in between Shawn and Gus. Simple as that.
It has been revealed that Parminder Nagra’s character has a child. Can you tell us more about that?
DULE: I know, it was dropped on Gus’s lap. That’s not something that he walked into wide-eyed. He was kind of blindsided by that, which I guess in Gus’s world that’s something that is bound to happen. We’re still getting to the episodes, but he just kind of dives head-first in, and I think it’ll be fun seeing Gus just get all caught up in that world, as if he’s been there all along, and how he has this new family, when he just met them a couple weeks ago. I think that’ll be fun for people to see, and Shawn will call Gus out a lot on that. So there’ll be that. And it kind of happens, like people who as soon as they have a baby, all of a sudden now it’s all about the baby. So I think we’ll kind of see some of that action happen with Gus, and Gus and Shawn.
What does it mean to you to get to the 100th episode of PSYCH?
DULE: It’s goes beyond what I expected for the show. I didn’t realize that the show would go this long, and I’m thrilled that the fans have been attached to it, and truly I’m in awe of the whole journey. Before the WEST WING, I’d never done a TV series. I tested for pilots and never booked one. So over the 15 years now, it’s just been one long, wonderful ride. So to get to 100 episodes on WEST WING, and now to hit that milestone again with the second show, I’m really speechless. I don’t have anything to say about it besides I’m just thankful. I’m really grateful for the opportunity. I’m glad to have been blessed to have this experience. I thought that you couldn’t really top the WEST WING experience, with that cast, and, and all those experiences. But this has been just as fulfilling, in a whole different way. Working with this cast, I love them just as much as WEST WING-ers. We’ve had a chance to work with just as talented and phenomenal guest actors as we did on the WEST WING. Honestly, I just did not expect this show to have that kind of success. I thought it’d be fun, and it would be a great time, and something different to do. But I didn’t really realize that the show would have this kind of life, and have this kind of a fan base. But it’s thrilling. I love it. It’s great.
You’re the common element between two very long running and popular shows. Can you bottle that element?
DULE: I would just say it’s the blessing of God. I give God thanks for his wonderful blessings. I can’t say that it’s has anything to do with me. I’ve just been the one who’s been given the gift of being placed in these two phenomenal situations. And if you surround yourself with talented people, people will think you’re talented. It’s very simple. Very simple.
Have you ever feel like you’ve become complacent on PSYCH?
DULE: No, I get excited every episode. Every episode. Like we have Jeffrey Tambor is coming up next. The fact these are people who I’ve been fans of their work for years, and to be able to share the screen with all these actors, for me, it’s a dream. You can never get complacent. I mean, working with Christopher Lloyd, how can you? How can you just be like, “Oh, whatever, Garret Morris?” I mean, come on. He’s the original “not ready for prime time,” come on. As an actor, you can never get enough of it — never. Even working with the cast that I work with, I think that everyone brings so much to the table, and they challenge me every episode to dig deeper, and try to find other comedy moments. I don’t really feel like comedy is my base. I just feel like I’m more attracted to dramatic work, and to work with these guys these guys and gals every day, it’s a thrill. I don’t think I ever take it for granted to come to work ’cause it’s so hard in this business to get a job, and then to have a job that runs long, and to be successful. Then to be able to be in the room and share the screen with Lesley Ann Warren and Martin Mull, it’s like you have to be able to appreciate the moments. There’s some quote by Albert Einstein that says, “You either look at life as if everything is a miracle or nothing is a miracle.” Something like that. But it’s so true. You have to take moments and really appreciate every moment that you’re given. Because you never know when it’s going to be all done anyway. So I don’t think I get complacent at all.
So it all feels fresh, even after 100 episodes?
DULE: Oh, yeah. I mean each episode we have somebody new coming in. Each episode there’s some other phenomenal actor coming to play around and it’s also humbling, ’cause you feel like, “Wow, they think we’re cool enough to come all up here to Vancouver and hang out for seven days. Okay? Like, really, wow. That’s pretty cool. Okay, sure.” So I love it. I love it.
Do you have a star on your wish list?
DULE: I would still say for myself, it would still be Martin Sheen. I would love to still get Martin on the show.
How great would it be to have a WEST WING homage?
DULE: It would be great. I would love to do it. I don’t know if it’s going to be possible, but we’ll see. But for me, just those two worlds colliding would be just an actor love-fest. No, really, it’s like a career love-fest for me. It would be a lot of fun. Martin’s a busy man though, so if I think if we can get Martin, we can fill in everybody else, but we’ll see. But Martin would still be my top choice. Just ’cause I loved working with him. I remember when I first did WEST WING, when I first came on the set, he taught me this handshake that Laurence Fishburne taught him when they did “Apocalypse Now,” and we still do it. We still do the handshake to this day. But I was nervous coming and working with Martin Sheen and Rob Lowe, and all these people, and he just made me feel so at ease. I still vividly remember that moment, coming on to the WEST WING set, before we even got to air, and now at this time later, to see where the journey has gone. To have Martin come around on this show now would be just a very moving thing for me.
What would you like to see in Gus’ future?
DULE: I have a feeling the future’s not too much longer. I mean 100 episodes is a long time. I don’t know how much longer we’ll be around. I don’t know. I mean, what would I want to see Gus do? I definitely want him to have a love interest.
What about get a new car?
DULE: No, never. That’s one thing I definitely don’t want him to ever do is change out the Blueberry. That, like Gus and the Blueberry, they go hand in hand. The relationship was the big thing for me. I really wanted to see Gus explore that world. And I think I would like to have another, another family episode. That would be nice.
Do the writers write all the crazy nicknames, or are they something you improv?
DULE: They’re a mixture of both. Now that the writers have caught on, they’re written into the script. But throughout the years, they’ve been a mixture of both. The first one, which I think was Gus “Silly Pants” Jackson, was just Roday doing it. And I remember doing the take, and after the take, I was like, “What did you call me?” Then it just kind of stuck. Like Lavender Gooms, that’s my grandmother’s cousin. It’s really my great aunt, who’s still alive, and one day we needed a name, and I was like, “Oh, Lavender Gooms,” and we just threw that in there. But now the writers have — like ShDynasty — I think that one was written. I can’t remember whether God’s Comma was in the script or not, or whether we added that. But it’s a big collaborative effort around here. They’re a lot of fun. I look forward to ’em. Then Jazz Hands. For me, what happens a lot of times, when they write it, I always try to figure out, “How can I bring it to life?” So that’s where I got the Jazz Hands, or like MC Clap Your Hands and things like that.
What’s your most memorable moment working on PSYCH so far?
DULE: That’s a hard one to say: the most memorable. I honestly will say the most memorable moment will probably be when Roday came to my house before my screen test. I thought that was cool ’cause he already had the job, and I thought that was very cool for the lead actor to do — to come to my house to work on the scene, so that we’d be ready to go when I walked in the room. So I think that kind of set our dynamic up. I was like, “Okay, yeah, you’re a real cool dude.” But it’s so man. I mean, the first PSYCH-Out would be one; for the pilot, “The Man In the Mirror”, ’cause that was really just me and Roday off-camera, having fun, just singing songs and coming up with this whole thing. Then we have we have this song that we made up back then called “Stuck on You.” It was this whole thing we were doing during the pilot. But there’s 100 episodes. There’s so many. It’s been a great ride, I’m very thankful.
To see more of the glorious Gus and Shawn adventures in PSYCH, as well as meet Gus’ new lady love, be sure to tune in for the 7th season premiere on Wednesday, February 27th at 10:00 p.m. on USA Network. The game will be a foot again!
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