PSYCH: Corbin Bernsen and Kristen Nelson Interview re Season 7 (2013)

Kristen Nelson and Corbin Bernsen (photo credit: Jennifer Schadel)
Kristen Nelson and Corbin Bernsen (photo credit: Jennifer Schadel)

At the end of the sixth season of PSYCH, the fate of Shawn Spencer’s father Henry was left in doubt as he had just been shot in chest. For all his psychic-wiles, the harsh reality of a violent crime so close to home and to someone he loves will be a pivot point in the fake psychic detective’s life. So with that dire circumstance still left hanging and the future uncertain, during a press set visit for PSYCH’s 100th episode co-stars Corbin Bernsen and Kristen Nelson shared some speculations about what’s next in the PSYCH world for Henry and Chief Vick.


Corbin, how has it been appearing in appearing in the first 96 episodes of PSYCH? Were you upset to not make it through the final 100th episode?
CORBIN: That’s all I can confirm: 96 episodes. An incredible ride. Really blessed. I added it up the other day, stick that with L.A. LAW and it’s getting near 300 hours of television, and if I were to survive this year, I would actually cross that threshold. But I’m not holding my breath. Or maybe I am. For eternity. (Laughs) There’s a possibility that Henry survives, but nobody really knows, do they? You assume that I live. But have you explored the possibilities? Ghost? Flashbacks?

Would you like to see flashbacks take place with Shawn when he was in high school or another period of time?
CORBIN: That would be a horrible wig. This sounds really crazy and really technical, I really hated the wig. I mean, I personally just didn’t like it. It made me angry, but I guess that was good for Henry. But every day I would put it on, I thought they’d actually made me look older. In a weird way, blonde guys should not have hair, as they get older. There’s a couple that do and I think they look pretty silly. But I don’t know if I want to go back. I would like to go forward. That’s what I think would be fun. Where Shawn comes and visits my grave on the 20-year anniversary of my death. You still don’t know, do you? You think what’s going to happen, but you don’t.


What’s it feel like to be involved in one of the biggest cliffhangers on TV?
CORBIN: It my JR-moment. Its kind of goofy because in those days — I mean, really, think about my predicament, even sitting here, it’s about how much fun do we all want to have? And it’s really hard. In the JR days, it’s like, you do it, and there’s no social networking. There’s none of this. You can literally just drop off the map and, other than the assumption like they’re not going to kill Larry Hagman, but you still don’t really know. You can’t even sit with other people and formulate the plots. But it’s fun. I mean when you have a pretty long career, and there are those cliffhanger moments, it’s great to have one of them in your kind of in your library. So, I don’t know if that means I’m really old though. That’s the problem, I can’t quit, because it’s like, “What’s next?”

Could you talk about what it was like reading that final script, if you didn’t know ahead of time that Corbin’s character was going to be shot?
KIRSTEN: It wasn’t even our final script of the season. It was like we still had three after that. And I remember — we get the scripts, what two weeks ahead or something like that, if we’re lucky — but oddly enough, my husband had read it first. And he was just kind of scrolling through it, which is rare but he was scrolling through it and he’s like, “Holy shit!” And I was like, “What? What? What? I want to see.” I was like, “What?” And he’s like, “Don’t even bother looking for yourself, just read the end.” So I did not know that was coming.
CORBIN: But I was forewarned that it was coming.
KIRSTEN: It’s like, “Come on!” We still had the like three episodes more to do after that. So we shot it. We knew that was done, but then there was like this hanging umbrella over those last three episodes. Did didn’t they take [Henry’s] house down?
CORBIN: I still don’t know.
KIRSTEN: They took your house down too.
CORBIN: They took my house down.


KIRSTEN: So it was like they shot him and then they said, “We need this space, so we’re going to take your house down.”
CORBIN: And then you’re like, “This is a cruel business.” It’s fun and it’s a blast, but it can be really cruel. ‘Cause there it is, when the ratings are down, you’re done. I remember when I got done with L.A. LAW, I was with ICM, a big agency, and the day the show was canceled I got kicked downstairs to like a junior agent. Seriously, and that lasted about two weeks and then I was out of the agency. And then the other version of that is, when I was nominated for an Emmy, for L.A. LAW, and Bruce Willis was nominated, and they come with you, that camera, and they put it right up to your face, like getting that stupid reaction and you’re sitting there and the camera’s right there: from L.A. LAW, Corbin Bernsen; and Bruce Willis from [blank], and the winner is Bruce Willis! That camera goes like this, it goes “shoop.” It moves quicker than you can possibly imagine.
KIRSTEN: They don’t even move the cameras anymore. Now they want to see what your reaction is.
CORBIN: No, at that time they moved and I thought, “Wow, that’s what it’s really about.” So when I saw this script and I’m like, “Oh, you can tell me this.” I mean, what else are you going to tell me halfway through the season, “Oh by the way, you’re not coming back. We’re going to kill you off, so please do really well for the next six episodes. Yeah, give it your all man.”
KIRSTEN: We’ll see how well you do.
CORBIN: This is the home stretch for Henry.
KIRSTEN: Yeah, I guess since we did have those three episodes you had to do really well on those last three ‘cause they still hadn’t written the end.
CORBIN: And I still don’t know. I mean to me, the way I look at it is, I still got a bullet in me and it’s infected so anything could happen at any moment.
KIRSTEN: So we’d shot [Corbin’s scenes] out of order. So things happen. Things happen. ‘Cause I was still Interim Chief Vick, for the longest time. They brought me on interim because Shawn got the guy fired. But I got the script and I think Maggie said it was one I had quit. So I was coming in and I quit because they’re not giving me the job. And that’s when Shawn comes to the rescue. I got hired full time, but as we’re reading the script, I didn’t know that one either. It’s not as bad as getting shot, but [my character] was quitting and I was like, “What do I do?” I thought things were going well. The makeup, hair and makeup trailer, they had found it first and they weren’t talking to me for a while and were like, “Have you read it? The script yet?” And I was like, “No, why what’s going on?” So when they reveal these things, sometimes they tell us what’s coming up ahead down the wire, or sometimes they just throw us episode right into the episode.

How does it feel to get to this 100th episode, compared to L.A. LAW?
CORBIN: I can say this, when you do something like L.A. LAW you think, “It’ll never be that good again.” It’s like the first girl and you think, “It’ll never be like this again.” But as you progress through your life, and you go, “Wow, I’m in another thing that’s running [this long], and I like these people like I did before.” I’m not going to say it’s better, but it’s amazing that you can still achieve this. I imagine if you lose a spouse, you would think, “I can never love again.” And people do find love. And it’s amazing, life’s ability to sort of recycle itself. But to get to [PSYCH’s 100th], I would say the first one, I probably took a little bit more for granted. That was a massive whirlwind; I mean L.A. LAW was like it. And that’s like being on MODERN FAMILY right now. What am I even saying? It was bigger than that! But getting to this today is really it’s deeper. It’s more of a blessing. You realize, “Wow, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And thank you.” You really do don’t take so much for granted and I am extremely fortunate to have been in two casts where everybody really genuinely likes everybody.
KIRSTEN: Well I think that that’s different from what I’ve heard from other shows — that we still like each other.
CORBIN: Really like each other. I mean, really like each other!
KIRSTEN: It’s another little family.
CORBIN: And we don’t really have — there’s no ego — if anybody has room for ego, it would be James — and Dule, to some degree — but he doesn’t. He’s the captain of the ship and he’ll row with the rest of us.

KIRSTEN: I think that’s kind of evident from how the set goes, how the crew goes, how the last person on the back of the call sheet goes. It really kind of trickles down from how Number One goes. And there’s a leading from behind that its just kind of everybody sits around. There’s a relaxed idea on this set, that everybody has the same goal.
CORBIN: We’re protective of the crew in that way. I mean the crew is a honest to god family. It really is, and it’s really unique. I know it’s unique [to get to 100 episodes]. So let’s get to 200.
KIRSTEN: I think I was surprised too when they said, “No, it’s coming up.” I was like, “Huh? Really?” Because I’ve never been on a show this long. And I don’t want to say I’ve taken it for granted at all, but at the same time, a little surreal in the sense of, “Really? This is happening?” It’s just another day at work isn’t it, and I’m not thinking of it as a big benchmark. So few shows see that mark. So few of them.
CORBIN: As an observer outside, can’t you see the fun that we have. It’s so evident in the product, right? Other shows are great, not to diss people who are egos in shows, but you don’t get that sense. It’s not just the humor; it’s the rhythm of it. It’s like a family that’s working, like a machine that works really nice and it’s pleasant. It’s fun too . . .. I’m the luckiest guy in show business, I’m 57 years old, and I’ve had a great run. I’ve done a lot of stuff. I’ve done another hit show. I’m on another one now. We get paid very nicely by USA Network. We get treated extremely well. There’s a relationship between network and, and so all of it is really good and I love my cast.

How much has shooting in Vancouver helped build that family relationship?
KIRSTEN: I think that’s played a pretty big part in it.
CORBIN: Isolationism.
KIRSTEN: Isolationism, exactly. Of you’re kind of sequestered, at least in the beginning, you’re in a city where we all shoot and we’re in another country and we’ve all been forced into this situation. So to make the best of it, you form family. You form friendships, you form alliances in order to get through this, and you become very close with the people who are in the same boat.
CORBIN: Yeah, you don’t have a lot of other outside friendships and all that business distractions stuff.
KIRSTEN: There’s not a lot of distractions. You don’t have your family saying, “Come home and cook dinner,” because unfortunately they’re in another city. So it gave us that time to bond early on and to kind of make those relationships stick that are still around. So those first two years, until the boys did the Today Show in New York, I remember going home for hiatus and there were billboards all over the place. And we’re like, “Oh. Like this show?” They just started airing them on Global, so our crew can’t see the show unless they have cable or satellite. It doesn’t air up here [Vancouver]. Nobody really knows about it in the sense that they do in the U.S. sometimes, and that kind of keeps it nice and small and intimate because, especially for the boys, they walk around, they do whatever they want, they are anonymous, a lot of the time. And it kind of helps — maybe that’s why it snuck up on us that we’ve been doing this for 100 episodes. It’s still very intimate, and it’s a nice place to call a second home. Back between Season One and Two, Tim [Omundson] had us over at his house and it was between seasons and it was, “Hey let’s get the families together, let’s have a barbeque” and the six of us and our spouses or significant others were there and we were all sitting on the back porch and the kids were playing and we just sitting back with a beer and there was just a pause in the conversation and Corbin’s like, “You don’t realize what we have. And this friendship, or this beginning of a new relationship and new event that we’re all jumping off into right now. You guys don’t realize it.” But [Corbin] knew even back then. That there was something just a little like, “Why do we all not mind each other’s company?” It was kind of a nice warm place to start off with and again with leading from behind, James, Dule — they’re our Number One and Number Two on the call sheets.

What is it like for you guys to go from the intimateness here in Vancouver to something like San Diego Comic-Con?
CORBIN: Beatles, Shay Stadium, as opposed to rehearsing at Capital Records studio.
KIRSTEN: It was intense. I think what I took away from my first Comic-Con was seeing the size of that room. I had just convinced myself that nobody was there to see us. That they’ve just been sitting there all day and they all just keep their seats warm. But the enormity of it, seeing the fans and having that sense of more of a real touch, it was more of a tangible, which I enjoyed and I don’t think anybody would want to trade that at the same time because we’re up here, we can be anonymous. There you felt that energy from that room coming back towards us. It was fantastic. But it was mind blowing at the same time.
CORBIN: I get a little wigged out by massive amounts of adoration. I mean I so much prefer coming here and doing this with a group of friends. I do, but I never feel quite really comfortable. I see it as a meter to say, “Wow, we’re really successful.” But maybe it’s growing up in the business and around it, my defenses always up about it a little bit. About, “Just be careful man, don’t buy any of this shit. Don’t ‘cause it’s just the easiest thing to get sucked into.” I enjoy what we do right here more than any part of it. I mean that’s my thing and ‘cause I know that’s real.

What’s your wish list of guest stars that have yet to be attained for PSYCH?
KIRSTEN: Gosh, I’m always surprised every time we get people who we even remotely even think about that would be on the stratosphere.
CORBIN: I’d like to have Val Kilmer. No, who’d be really funny on the show if you could really have somebody’s way out of it and somebody like who really has the humor is Robert Downy Jr. Somebody that’s the kind of guy who would really embrace what we do.
KIRSTEN: David Bowie was bounced around for so long and, since we can get these musicians, it would be lovely to have that kind of opportunity. To meet some of these iconic people, but that’s what has been a joy is when they do announce to us. I know James and Dule are very active in that they can be involved in the casting process. It’s lovely for them, but for the rest of us, it’s a surprise, the “Oh my god, did you see who we got?” I would love David Bowie. I would love Hugh Laurie. I would love — gosh it’s all the Brits. Can like Dane Judy Dench come and just show us her funny side?

What do you think will be Chief Vick’s reaction when it gets out that Shawn has been faking being a psychic?
KIRSTEN: I kind of go with the plausible-deniability angle with her: “Don’t tell me, then I don’t have to know.” But I will not be surprised. The chief will not be surprised when it does come out. Having known him for so long, and then having his dad; obviously I knew the kid when he was growing up. But I don’t think it’s going to come as a surprise. I might have to do damage control, in the sense of: What did I sign off on? That crimes were solved by not a member of the department and by someone who was not really hired for certain skills that we hired him for. But that’s just paperwork, that’s just bureaucratic paperwork. In the end, it will just be another, “Okay. Huh? Moving on.”
CORBIN: And then you kind of have to ask yourself: What is a psychic? ‘Cause I think Henry will start to think he is psychic. But in these terms, really he those little PSYCH Shawn-visions. Look at the shit he puts together. So does that not take some sort of higher brainpower? It’s not just inductive reasoning. He’s not just doing Sherlock Holmes to Dule’s Watson. He’s really putting stuff together. He’s putting pieces together and then you have to ask yourself, is that not what psychism is? PSYCH-ism

To see what the final fate of Henry Spencer is and if Chief Vick is any closer to unmasking Shawn as a fake psychic, be sure to tune in for the 7th season premiere of PSYCH on Wednesday, February 27th at 10:00 p.m. on USA Network.

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