A surprising thing happened on DROP DEAD DIVA, a new hero emerged last season that we were not expecting. When Jane Bingham (Brooke Elliott) tried to flee from the image of her best friend and her ex-fiancé kissing by accepting a spontaneous trip to Italy with Judge Owen French (Lex Medlin), we did not expect to fall just as in love with him as Jane did. Yet Owen not only stole Jane’s heart, he stole ours. So when the fourth season ended with yet another heart-breaking kiss, but this time between Jane and Grayson (Jackson Hurst), which was witnessed by Owen on his and Jane’s wedding day, we felt Owen’s pain and betrayal keenly. So we held our breath and waited to see if Owen would awaken from his heart attack as the man we all knew and loved, or if he would awaken with the soul of Old Jane.
Last week’s Season 5 premiere put those fears to rest as we were introduced to Old Jane in another woman’s body – and Owen still fully intact and hurting. So in a recent exclusive interview, star Lex Medlin shared his thoughts on where Owen’s head and heart are at this season and whether Owen will find a way to forgive Jane.
We were a little worried with the Season 4 cliffhanger where it looked like you might be portraying Old Jane in Owen’s body. Did you ever go knocking on Josh Berman’s door asking him if you were going to be playing two characters at the same time?
LEX: (Laughs) Physically banging on his door, no. There might have been a barrage of phone calls I sent to him saying, “Hey, is this happening or not? I need to know ‘cause that’s something I really need to practice.” I told him that it was up to him whichever way he wanted it to go; I was genuinely happy either way. Acting-wise, it really intrigued me. But playing a woman was definitely something I would need to prep for a couple of months. So he would have to give me the heads up. And if they weren’t going to go that route, then I wanted to see what he was going to do with Owen and maybe just look into him a little further, which we definitely do.
Now we’ve seen that Owen is really back, and we’re all relieved about that!
LEX: Yeah, I saw a lot of fans weren’t thrilled with the idea of Owen being Old Jane. Some were, but a lot weren’t. So hopefully everyone will be happy with it.
It would have destroyed the love-triangle and we all love the romance between Owen and Jane. So it’s nice to be able to root for that still.
LEX: Yeah, we’ll have to see what happens with that. I think Owen is really hurt. Actually, after seeing these first couple of scripts, I came to the conclusion that Owen’s ever really been in love before. Definitely not like this. I think the rug really got pulled out from under him and he reacts accordingly. I don’t want to give anything away, but he definitely has a hard time with it.
So Owen’s “angry phase” may last through a couple episodes or even through the rest of the season?
LEX: I don’t know. Maybe a couple of episodes. It won’t go on forever, but maybe a little while.
So there still could be hope for the love relationship between Owen and Jane?
LEX: Honest to god, I’m just as curious as you. That’s where I am right now. I’m still waiting for scripts to come in so I can find out what’s going to happen. In ways, I’m no different than the fans. I’m genuinely interested and excited to see what’s going to happen.
Are we going to see Owen back in the courtroom, and does that pose a problem in Owen and Jane’s professional life?
LEX: Yes, in the next episode, I’m judging, which I love. So I’m definitely involved in the courtroom for the rest of the season – which is fun for me as an actor ‘cause I get to memorize legal copy.
You like all those big legal words?
LEX: Oh, it’s interesting sometimes. But after a day of it, you’re brain can become just completely fried.
Have you been surprised since you got this role that people believe you’d make a fabulous judge?
LEX: No, not surprised by that, but I was surprised that people responded to the Jane-Owen relationship as much as they did. I didn’t think that would ever happen. I love it to be honest. I love playing a judge. It’s very empowering sitting up there. I’ve never done it before. I’ve played detectives and doctors, pretty much everything, but I’ve never played a judge – and I was amazed at how comfortable I was and how much I enjoyed it. It’s empowering. Everybody rises when you enter the room. How wonderful is that?!
Given now that the romance is kind of at a screeching-halt, are we going to see Owen spending time with some of the other characters?
LEX: Yeah, I’m getting to act a little bit more with the other cast. So that’s fun. I definitely get to work with some of the other people, but I still work with Brooke [Elliott] most of the time.
Just curious ‘cause it seemed like this might be an opportunity for Owen to explore getting to know and interact with other characters.
LEX: I’ve definitely interacted with Kate [Levering] a little more. Still not a ton with April [Bowlby] or Jackson [Hurst], but I’m getting to a little bit. We’ll see if that develops more. I’m curious too about that.
The other thing is now that Owen has experienced a big betrayal by Jane, if he were ever to find out about her other life as Deb, how would he react to that? We are hoping he will forgive her for the kiss with Grayson, but finding out that she’s an entirely different person might freak him out.
LEX: It’s a great question. I’m curious too. Trust me, there are times when I’m watching the show going, “Oh, I wish she could just tell him!” Just tell him so that they can work it out. But she can’t. I have to believe that if he ever did find out, I think he would react positively — ‘cause he has a legal mind and if he had all the information it would probably change his perception. But as far as I know, she’s never allowed to tell anybody. Didn’t she tell Grayson at the end of Season 2 and he got hit by a car? I kind of like Owen, maybe she shouldn’t tell him. (Laughs) Let’s keep him alive folks!
How would you describe Owen’s journey for the fifth season?
LEX: So far, I would describe it as Owen was in love for the first time and he is truly heart-broken for the first time in life, and we will see how he reacts to that.
There’s a new character on the show, the new angel Paul, and we are not really sure that Owen and Paul’s paths cross that much, but if they do, what is Owen’s initial reaction to meeting Paul?
LEX: Paul? Owen hasn’t gotten a chance to meet him yet. But after watching the show last week, I thought Paul [Justin Deeley] was absolutely adorable. He has a certain childlike quality that I found really endearing. Personally, Justin and I live in the same apartment complex in Peachtree, so we kind of see each other walking the paths out there and we’ve gotten to talk. He’s just an unbelievably nice guy. Really, really nice guy. Really down to earth. I’ve really enjoyed his company. I don’t remember, did Owen ever see Luke or Fred? Fred was there at the end of Season 3, but he then disappeared. The way it kind of looked, Owen couldn’t see Fred, just Jane could. So I don’t know if Owen can see these angels.
He doesn’t even know they are there?
LEX: That’s what it seems like. I don’t think he ever interacted with Luke. Let me rephrase that, I’m sure he can see them if they are there, but for whatever reason their paths have never crossed to this point.
Now that Owen has been made aware that there could potentially be other men in Jane’s life, you’d think he’d start to become suspicious of the men that pop up on a regular basis.
LEX: You’d think, huh?! Once you see your fiancé kiss a guy, you’re probably suspicious of everything at that point.
With Owen’s calculating mind, you could see him doing the risk assessment and thinking, “Hmmm, who’s this guy and how does he figure into her life?”
LEX: I know for me, personally, when I’ve had heart-break in my life, your analytical mind gets kind of thrown out the window and I have a feeling that’s the case with Owen. He’s just riding a bit of an emotional roller-coaster right now and trying to figure out how to deal with it. If anything, it’s probably bothering him that he’s not thinking as clearly as he normally does just because he’s so confused.
Will we see that have an impact on Owen’s ability to sit on the bench?
LEX: No, no. Never. That’s the one thing. When he goes up there, it’s all about the law. He’s very practical in that regard.
We have seen some really tear-jerking cases on DROP DEAD DIVA, if not always in Owen’s court. Have any taken you by surprise a little bit?
LEX: Yeah, like the one in this last episode where the guy was putting up the naked pictures of ex-girlfriends – I have daughters, so that made my stomach flip-flop that there are guys that would do that. Then there’s the one with the baseball player that comes out and that really tugged at my heart. It was a very heart-warming episode.
DROP DEAD DIVA is a fascinating show in that it offers so many levels, both with the characters and in the legal cases they address.
LEX: I think that is why it has had the success that it has. On one hand, you have what I think are amazing characters. Just watching Brooke [Elliott] in this last episode, she does so many little things and even on the day we are shooting I don’t always notice and then when I see the end result I’m just blown away at how much detail she puts into it. It’s all character stuff that – to me – is just so heart-warming. I just fall in love with the Jane/Deb character and I think the entire cast is stellar. Character-wise everyone has developed their character so well that I think people enjoy watching them, then you flip to the other side – like Josh Berman has a law degree and I know we have a lot of lawyers in the writing room and from what I know all the cases are based on real cases – so you get that entire other aspect of the show. Then you put the two together and have DIVA.
It’s a rich show. It’s got a lot of layers, which is fun.
LEX: I wasn’t familiar with the show before I signed on to it, and now I’m a huge fan.
What would you say is something you learned portraying Owen?
LEX: That being a judge is sexy. (Laughs) For me, it has been interesting to play a love interest like this. A lot of the stuff I’ve played in the past have been the a-hole of the show or the jerk. I’ve played a lot of that and I’ve just played a lot of quirky characters, so it was nice to just be able to play a real guy – a confident guy who didn’t have to make everything funny. I’ve enjoyed playing something different.
What is the one quality you most admire about Owen?
LEX: I admire his confidence. He’s got more confidence than I do, personally. I was going to say his honesty because he really does try to be honest, but then there were a couple times last year where he kind of lied, then he thought about it and he said, “I’m sorry I lied.” Oh, and his dashing good looks!
Finally, what kinds of teasers can you share that fans should be looking forward to this season?
LEX: It’s so hard! I don’t want to give anything away. I really do want people to have the experience that I have when I get the scripts and the surprises. Even my wife doesn’t know anything that’s going to happen because I like people to have the same experience that I had. So I’ll just say that the love triangle is definitely going to develop. I still don’t know where it’s going to end, but I think it’s going to end at where I don’t even foresee coming and I think everybody should be ready for that. It’s going to develop in ways that we probably didn’t see coming.
Should Grayson be fearing the wrath of Owen at this point?
LEX: (Laughs) I would be! But who knows. Grayson is a complicated guy too. Maybe he doesn’t. We’ll have to see.
To see whether Owen does ultimately forgive Jane and there is hope for those two lovebirds, be sure to tune in for all new episodes of DROP DEAD DIVA on Sunday nights at 9:00 p.m. on Lifetime.
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