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Dulé Hill Answers 'Psych' Fan Questions

August 5th, 2009 9:44am EDT
Dulé HillA few weeks ago we interviewed James Roday from "Psych" (returning Friday, August 7 at 10pm on USA). And when we say "we," we mean all the legions of dedicated Psych-Os that sent in their questions for Roday via Twitter. Since then, the Psych-Os have been relentless that they want... nay (!), need round two with co-star Dulé Hill. We were determined, no matter how long it took, to give the "Psych" fans exactly what they want. So, yes, Dulé Hill now answers your questions about the upcoming season of "Psych," his time on "The West Wing" and even writes a scene involving him and President Bartlett's reaction to the now famous real life Beer Summit.

Mike: I interviewed James Roday a few weeks ago and I told him the same thing: I'll usually announce on Twitter if I'm interviewing someone and ask if they have questions. I had never gotten a response before like I did for "Psych." I even saw at a press conference James even mentioned our interview; that he recently did a full interview with all fan questions. I have a few here if you want to do those, too.

Dulé Hill: Yeah, sure! Let's do them!

Mike:(From Christy in Kansas) There wasn't much singing in the Psych-Outs last season. Will the singing Psych-Outs be back?

Dulé Hill: The singing Psych-Outs will be back this year. We've knocked out about three of them, already. It gets kind of difficult because, at first, it was a fun thing; we really enjoyed doing it. And somehow the network started to like it and the fans started to like it. Last year it got a little difficult trying to squeeze it in because we were just exhausted. We got back on the horse this year and we're trying to knock out some. I think we have some really fun ones coming up, too. You have to look for the one that comes with the episode they wrote about the werewolf. The Psych-Out for that one I think is brilliant.

Mike: (From Ian in Indian Trail, NC) How much improv plays into the Psych-Outs?

Dulé Hill: Oh, it's all improv (laughs). You can tell Ian it's all improv. They'll come to us and say, "Can you all do a Psych-Out today?" and we'll say, "OK, what's the list of the songs we have approved?" And we'll pick one out, they'll bring us the music and within about less than 20 minutes we'll figure something out and put it up and do it.

Mike: It happens that fast?

Dulé Hill: Yeah, there's no real set thing like that, no. That's why some work and some don't.

Dule HillMike: (From Liz in Philadelphia) Who's the most fun person on set?

Dulé Hill: The most fun? I would say we're all pretty fun. We all like to have a lot of fun. I can't say there's a most fun out of anybody. I like to crack a lot of jokes and the crew will always sing "Happy Birthday" all the time on set, for no particular reason. I wouldn't say anyone is the most or the least amount of fun. We all like to have a blast.

Mike: (From Elyse in Maryland) What's the best prank anyone has ever pulled on set?

Dulé Hill: The best prank. (Pauses) It probably was me but I just can't remember what it was that I did (laughs). I would say it was definitely me but I just can't remember what it was that I did because I'm always doing some kind of prank.

Mike: I'll just make one up for you and say, "Wow, I can't believe he pulled that one off."

Dulé Hill: Yeah (laughs).

Mike: (From Mindel in Virginia) Will your wife, Nicole, ever return to the show?

Dulé Hill: That's a good question. I'm not too sure. Hopefully she'll get a return back. I know Steve [Franks] had talked about bringing her back last season, so, we'll see. Hopefully something comes up where we can have her come back another season.

Mike: A follow up to that (from Lynsey in Houston) Do you need the fans to start a petition to bring her back?

Dulé Hill: Sure. Why not? (Laughs) No, I mean I don't really think they need to start a petition. Steve is already down to do it, it's just a matter of finding the right [situation].

Mike: And you might be opening a can of worms with doing that, too.

Dulé Hill: Yeah, I know (laughs). What happen is that you remember to do something ... then stories just start happening and before you know it, you're in season four. Hopefully we can bring her back one of these days.

Mike: (From Sara in Nebraska) James Roday wanted porn, what genre would you want to see parodied in "Psych" that hasn't been already?

Dulé Hill: For myself, and I think I said this at Comic-Con, it would definitely be a musical. A musical because I would love to be able to dance on the show. A friend of mine, Jason Samuel Smith, is one of the great tap dancers out there and that would be the perfect situation for him to come on the show.

Mike: (From Bryna in Chicago) If you had the option bring any musical to the big screen, what would it be?

Dulé Hill: I would like to say I'd love to do "White Nights" but there's already a big screen version...

Mike: Right, with Baryshnikov.

Dulé Hill: Yeah, Gregory Hines and Baryshnikov. I would love to be able to re-do that. I did a show called "Bring the Noise, Bring the Funk," I'd love to be able to do a big screen version of that. That would be great.

Mike: (From Kristen in Chicago) How good are the grilled cheese sandwiches from craft services you always talk about in the commentaries?

Dulé Hill: Oh! They are great! (Laughs) They are great! The grilled cheeses are fabulous.

Mike: Is there anything special about them that make them better than a regular grilled cheese sandwich?

Dulé Hill: No, I think that it's just that you're on set and you're tired and your kind of hungry... it's comfort food. It comes at the right time. And you can always smell it coming in. Now, if they want to put up a petition to get more...

Mike: Yes, there's the idea for the petition...

Dulé Hill: (Laughing) Yeah.

Mike: (From Sara in Nebraska) We know the Psych-Os are great, but have you ever had scary or disturbing fan encounter?

Dulé Hill: Well, we work in Vancouver and it works out good because the show is just starting to air there. So, not since I've been on "Psych." Years ago when I was doing "Bring the Noise, Bring the Funk" I had someone who would call up and say, "I saw you on the stage today." You know, you had that kind of thing going on. You know, leaving me messages back-stage at the theatre and would call me on my home phone somehow. That was kind of weird for for a second there.

Mike: I think that does qualify as disturbing.

Dulé Hill: Yeah, that was a little disturbing. They'd call me and say, "You look nice in red." (starts laughing).

Mike: That's crazy!

Dulé Hill: Yeah, that was pretty spooky.

Mike: (From Sudheer in Chicago) Young Gus is so different than older Gus on the show. Are you involved in defining your young self at all?

Dulé Hill: Not really. Most of the times that they work is one of the few times that we have off. Whenever they're working, we obviously can't work.

Mike: You've met your young self, right?

Dulé Hill: Oh, yeah, yeah. Isaah Brown. Wonderful, wonderful young actor. I think you'll be seeing a lot of him in the future. On "Psych" and in other stuff, too. He has a great personality and I think he does well. I don't have too much input in terms of what they do -- what the young Shawn and Gus do. I guess I've never really taken the time to really put my two cents in. There's enough people around that can handle that.

Mike: (From Sam in Essex, England) Are you still in touch with the cast of "The West Wing"? Any plans for any of them to guest star on "Psych"?

Dulé Hill: I'm in touch with a lot of the cast, still. We have Josh Molina who's going to be in the show coming up which is in the werewolf episode which is directed by Andrew Bernstein who's also on "The West Wing," a director. I saw Lily Tomlin yesterday. Every couple of months I'll speak to Martin [Sheen]. I haven't had a chance to see him since the Emmy Awards, our last Emmy Awards that we went to. Every time I'm home I say, "I want to see Martin," and then stuff comes up. I'll probably try to go see him next time I'm in L.A. I saw Allison Janney in New York, I saw her a few times...

Mike: She's doing Broadway's "9 to 5" right now...

Dulé Hill: Right, which is now closing. I speak to Melissa Fitzgerald. I saw Brad Whitford in Vancouver, he was filming on the same lot that we were ... I had lunch with Richard Schiff back in April. Am I forgetting anybody? I spoke to Aaron Sorkin through email the other day and Rob [Lowe], I speak to Rob all the time. I stay in touch with everybody, I spent seven years working with them. I went to Seton Hall for three years; I spent four years in high school and three years at Seton Hall and I spent the same amount of time working with the cast of "West Wing." I'll always be in touch with them because they are a second family for me.

Mike: Was it tough to leave "The West Wing" early to join "Psych"? It worked out extremely well and I know you came back for a few episodes at the end of the run...

Dulé Hill: I really didn't leave the show early. I had an idea that the show was going to be ending. I was only going to be doing a few episodes that year anyway so the timing really worked out. It wasn't necessarily a decision I made. It was more [being called and told] that it looked like the show is going to be ending and this year we'll only have you be doing five or six episodes. It wasn't like I made the choice of, "I'm leaving 'The West Wing,'" because I'm not stupid (laughs).

Mike: (From Jenna in New Jersey) How does it feel to have a bobble-head in your likeness?

Dulé Hill: (Laughing) It's pretty surreal! I like that she's from Jersey because I'm from Jersey, so a big up to Jersey. It's pretty surreal, you have this little doll that looks like you. Growing up I had these little toys and things like that and now I have something that looks like me and I press a button and it's my voice. I have to go get it out but I have a Steve Young bobble-head, from the 49'ers. I have a Kevin Garnett bobble-head and right here in my office I have a President Obama bobble-head. So now I need to get them all together and put the Shawn and Gus bobble-head with them.

Mike: (From Jake in New Jersey) How often to you and Roday hang out off set?

Dulé Hill: We hang out, pretty much, every weekend. We'll get together and at least have some dinner and then go to somebody's house that's on the crew ... it will be me, Roday, Maggie. Eat some food and play some Wii Grand Slam Tennis.

Mike: (From Deepti in Hyderabad, India) Does it make Gus angry to always be tricked into Shawn having his way?

Dulé Hill: No, I don't think it makes him angry. That's just how Gus reacts. There's a part of him that really likes to do those wild things but he would never want to admit it to himself and just blatantly go along with it... Because then he wouldn't be Gus: The person that's always in control and does the right thing. I don't think it really makes him angry ... overall, I think he enjoys it. If he had a choice of doing it, I think he would still do it. He would want to do it. If asked [privately] he would say, "Yeah, I like it. But don't tell anybody."

Mike: (From Kathy in Houston) Gus's relationship with Shawn has been compared to Turk and J.D. from "Scrubs." I think your portrayal is much more nuanced. How do you view your show's approach to race?

Dulé Hill: I think we approach it the way it should be approached. We are an African-American and a white buddy thing; we're friends and we grew up as brothers. (Laughs) We'll hit it on the nose a lot of the time which I think we should do, because I think friends do that. I think friends try to act like certain things don't exist, I mean, we're friends. I'm black and you're white, but that doesn't mean anything ... Never degrading jokes or things like that because friends wouldn't do that. I think we do a great job of dealing with it. Beyond the race, Shawn and Gus are more like brothers. Maybe brothers from a different mother, but they're still brothers (laughs). There's one episode where I said, "What happened? Why couldn't you call me bold, black or beautiful as a nickname?" And he said, "What am I going to call you? Black Burton?" If the cameras weren't there, that's what friends would do ... Hopefully if people could see these friendships it would have a greater effect, out there, somewhere.

By the way: I've known Donald Faison for a long time, too, and Zach Braff. So, I'm glad they're over there having fun. I would love for one day, hopefully, if their show finishes before our show, it would be great to have them come in and do a little thing on our show. I don't know if it would ever happen, but it would be fun.

Mike: (From Dana in New York City) The way "The West Wing" ended, President Palmer on "24," Geena Davis on "Commander in Chief": Do you feel with the election of Obama, this is life imitating art?

Dulé Hill: I definitely think it's life imitating art but, also, I think art has had an effect on life. When you talk about these different TV show, they're broadcast into millions and millions of homes across the nation and throughout the world. I think, week in, week out, you can see certain dynamics; certain people in certain positions. I think it makes it easier for the nation as a whole to see the possibility of it. You had Jimmy Smits; you had Geena Davis; you had Dennis Haysbert playing these roles, week in, week out and allow the county to see the possibility of that. I would definitely say that those shows have had an effect on having a President Obama and a Secretary Clinton.

Mike: Last thing (Also from Dana in New York) It almost played out like an episode of "The West Wing." What would Charlie Young say to President Bartlett about "The Beer Summit"?

Dulé Hill: Wow. I think that's actually more of an Aaron Sorkin question. I probably would have told the president to make sure he has an American beer. I don't know, I would have probably said something having to do with misunderstandings happen all of the time and it's good to get people to talk. Most likely Charlie would have been the one to say, "Mr. President, why don't you all just have a beer?"

Mike: That's why I like that question. It sounds like something Charlie would have come up with.

Dulé Hill: Yeah! I think that's what would have happened. It would have been, somehow, the President getting off the phone dealing with the meaning of this issue. Then Charlie coming in, the President airing out his frustration about it. Saying, "You say this, or you say that and it gets misinterpreted." I would probably come back and say something like, "Why don't you all just have a beer? Just get the three of you sitting down and talk, instead of going through so many different people or the media and this and that. Just talk. Why can't you do that?" Then he would say, "Mrs. Landingham!" (laughs).

Mike: That's probably what happened in real life. It was probably someone close to him saying, "here's what you should do."

Dulé Hill: Yep! If you ever interview President Obama you can ask him how that came up.

Mike: (Laughs) Sure. I'm talking to him later this afternoon. I'll make sure to ask that.

Dulé Hill: (Laughs) You can say, "So I was watching an episode of 'The West Wing'..."

Mike: (Laughs) President Obama doesn't talk to the entertainment media too often, maybe I can pull something there. I'll use the excuse, "I just spoke to Dulé Hill and we had a great idea and I want to get his opinion on it."

Dulé Hill: (Laughing)




Mike: Hey, best of luck with the new season.

Dulé Hill: Thank you very much. Tell all the fans I appreciate all the questions. Keep them coming!

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
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