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James Roday Answers 'Psych' Fan Questions

June 17th, 2009 9:53am EDT
James RodayJames Roday -- who plays Shawn Spencer on "Psych" -- joins us to discuss the upcoming fourth season (premiering August 7 on USA). Every so often we put a request on Twitter for reader questions for upcoming interviews, no one has come close to the amount of responses that James received. So, considering the circumstances, we asked James if he would like to answer a plethora of questions directly from his fans... a request he eagerly accepted where we, among other things, finally get down to what those pineapples are about.

Mike: Hey James.

James Roday: Hey, Mike, what's up, dude!

Mike: It's season four of "Psych" already? That seems crazy to me. Is it weird to you at all?

James Roday: Dude, it's crazy to you? It's ridiculous to me. I've never been on a show that lasted longer than ten minutes before. This is totally crazy!

Mike: I find that when you talk to people about "Psych," it really is almost the definition of a cult favorite. It's either someone's favorite show or they've never heard of it. Does that make sense?

James Roday: It does, I don't think there's a whole lot of in-between. Our fans are like rabid beasts that rub themselves with the nectar that is "Psych." And other people, I think, don't have any idea that it exists.

Mike: You mentioned the rabid fan base: My God, tell me about it. Every so often we put a request for questions on Twitter. Nothing has been close to the response that I received after I mentioned that I was talking to you.

James Roday: (Laughs)

Mike: It was insane the amount of questions I received. I thought we may do something a little different this time and just use their questions. Is that cool?

James Roday: Yeah, dude! Throw them at me, man!

Mike: First one (From Elyse in Maryland), how much control do you have over your character's development?

James Roday: I'm incredibly lucky in that my role on the show has evolved as we've progressed and grown as a show. And I do get a lot of input on storylines, places we're going, things we want to explore and the worlds we want to go into. Obviously there is a very strong trinity of executive producers on our show but they're great about collaborating with us and listening to us. They don't always say "yes" but we definitely get heard and I think it's a really unique dynamic that we've created on the show.

Mike: (From Bryna in Chicago) If you could choose anyone to guest star on "Psych," who would that be and why?

James Roday: That's a good question. (Long pause) I'm torn. Up until 1996 I would choose Val Kilmer. Just because, I don't know, he was "Val Kilmer" back then.

Mike: We're about the same age, oh, I get what you're saying.

James Roday: Now, I would probably say it's Sam Rockwell. For me it would be, selfishly, the opportunity to work with one of my favorite actors. What better way to challenge yourself to cast someone you look up to as a foil or someone you have to compete with?

Mike: (Sam from Essex, England) Do you think your character, Shawn, is becoming more accepting of his father as he taught him his "gift"?

PsychJames Roday: No. I think there will be a polarizing factor in their relationship as long as this series goes. I think they'll start to understand one another more and I think they're making an effort to find common ground. But, I don't think it's ever going to be okay with Shawn that Henry made some of the child rearing choices that he made. I think that's a fairly black and white area.

Mike: How much of you do we see in Shawn Spencer? (From Rich in New Jersey)

James Roday: We couldn't be more different in terms of life philosophy, that's for sure. I also think that's why I enjoy playing the character so much. I've been so tunnel visioned and focused and driven by the time I was in my early teens. I grew up in Texas, it was a big wall to climb; you can't take one second off. No traveling, no vacation. This character is the exact opposite. He lives life by the second; he improvises his way through everything and never has a plan. In real life, I hate people like that. Not because they can do it, but because they also seem happy ... That being said, that brand of comedy has always been in my wheelhouse.

Mike: This is putting you on the spot but I'm going to ask it anyway (From Mindel from Virginia): Michael Ausiello from Entertainment Weekly put you on his dream Emmy ballot list. What did you think of that and do you think there's a shot at a real Emmy nomination?

James Roday: I'm incredibly flattered... God bless Ausiello, he's always been so kind to our show. He started back when he was at TV Guide and he's embraced "Psych" from the beginning... so, thank you to him. As far as there being a real shot: I don't know. We're a basic cable show on Friday nights at ten o'clock. The academy's not known for mixing things up very often.

Mike: Case in point: "The Wire."

James Roday: How did that show never get anything?

Mike: It's maddening at times what they overlook.

James Roday: All I can say is that if anything like that ever happens I would be enormously proud to carry the torch for our show because it's a bunch of great writers and a bunch of great actors.

Mike: Are you still continuing with other projects like Red Dog Theater Group? (Mindel, again, from Virginia)

James Roday: Red Dog is actually going to produce a show this fall, yeah ... This season we're going to do something a little more contemporary -- it's still an original piece -- in L.A. and it will go up sometime before the holidays. Red Dog still has a Pulse and I enjoy it and it keeps me close to my roots.

Mike: And this one (from Kristen in Chicago) kind of goes along with the last question. Do you have a dream role that you would like to bring to life in theatre?

James Roday: Wow (pauses) if it's already been something written it's always been Cassius from "Ceasar," I just don't think I'm there yet. I don't think I'm quite old enough and I don't think I'm ready. In terms of classical theatre, he's always been my guy. If it's original it would have to be really dark and twisted and really different than what people think of when they think of me.

Mike: (From Deepti in Hyderabad, India) How many episodes will Rachael Leigh Cook be in?

James Roday: It's a little open ended, but I can tell you there will be at least three; with the possibility of more.

Mike: (From Brooke in Chicago) Will Cybill Shepherd be back as your mom?

James Roday: I have to figure she will pop in at some point. Nothing has been shot. She's "Cybill"... we don't want to want to waste her. We don't want to bring her up unless we have something good for her to do.

Mike: How many episodes are you writing and directing this season? (Bryna in Chicago)

James Roday: It looks like I'll be co-writing three and directing one.

Mike: (From Sara in Nebraska) Now that you have been writing and directing shows, do you see yourself acting more in the future or would you rather write or direct?

James Roday: I've always wanted to do it all, man. And "Psych" is, sort of, the golden ticket. It has sped up that, sort of, diversifying process. Acting is certainly my first love but writing and directing has been on the "to do" list for a long time. I'll use the experience I've had on "Psych" to push as hard as I can and to as much more of it as I can.

Mike: How will the Shawn/Lassie relationship continue to develop this upcoming season? (Sara, again, in Nebraska)

James Roday: You know what? I think the fun of Shawn and Lassie is that regardless of how well they work together for one episode... with a single look or a single comment you can always slam them five steps back again. The fun for us is that we don't ever have to worry about falling in love and forgetting we can't stand one another.

Mike: What do you think you would be doing right now if you weren't on "Psych'? (Liz from Philadelphia)

James Roday: Probably doing a play; I'd be living in New York and doing theatre.

Mike: Are you currently writing any movie scripts? (Byrna in Chicago)

James Roday: Yes! I've got an independent I've been trying to get off the ground now for about three years called "Gravy." It's sort of further along than it has been in awhile. Then I have a little something else peculating that may or may not be a re-boot of an old favorite from our favorite decade, the 1980's. But, I don't want to jinx it so I'll leave it at that.

Mike: You can't tell us? I heard 1980's and got really excited and then you left me hanging...

James Roday: (Laughs) It's a genre piece and as soon as I can say more I certainly will because I think people will be pleased that it could possibly be happening.

Mike: (Jenna from Georgia) Is there any significance with the necklace?

James Roday: There really is no significance except that I have a personal necklace that I wore that they didn't want me wearing on the show because they had no doubles for it ... It wasn't even that I was insisting on wearing a necklace; they just knew they wouldn't get a double for the one that I had. We added beads this year; sporting some new neck ware for season four! (Laughs) People are just going to be rocked!

Mike: Last question and this was the most popular (Ryan from Virginia was first), what's up with all the pineapples?

James Roday: It was an improv in the pilot and the truth is, it almost didn't make the cut. It would have been what was ever sitting on top of Gus's (Dulé Hill) refrigerator.

Mike: So it could have been a pumpkin?

James Roday: If it had been a pumpkin, I would have grabbed the pumpkin and said, "Dude, should we slice up this pumpkin for the road?" and it would be a pumpkin that defined our show. It just so happened to be a pineapple and that's how random it was.




Mike: The episode where you had pineapples on your shirt, that would have been a little odd with pumpkins...

James Roday: (Laughs) Kind of a little cooler, yeah. And we've committed to making it much more difficult this season to find the pineapples.

Mike: It's nice you have the pineapples. You know when a show gets in trouble and fans send stuff in to the network to save the show? Like when people sent in nuts to save "Jericho." Could you imagine when loads of pineapples show up on the executives' desks at USA?

James Roday: You've just given everyone exactly what to do if we ever get in trouble.

Mike Ryan
"Mike's Pulse" is a column written by transplanted Midwesterner and current New Yorker Mike Ryan. For any compliments or complaints -- preferably the former -- you may contact Mike directly at miker@starpulse.com
or submit reader questions for celebrites to Mike on Twitter.

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