There are two really great aspects of Royal Pains that for the most part are unexpected. One is some really shocking cliffhangers, and the other is the very subtle relationships that are shown between all the important characters on the show. Recently I had a chance to take part in a conference call with star Mark Feuerstein, and these aspects played heavily not just in my questions, but within those of the others participating in the call as well.
The season one cliffhanger, being the very first, took everyone by surprise. Feuerstein’s character, Hank, found out that his brother, Evan (Paulo Costanzo), had not only been in contact with their estranged father, but had also lent him a large sum of money from their company, HankMed, money that their father subsequently disappeared with. This led to the addition of the usually very warm Henry Winkler to the series, playing a guy who on the surface seemed like quite a jerk.
Mark talked about the decision to bring Henry onto the show as his and Evan’s father, and said he was asked by the writers and executive producer what he would like to see in season two. He allowed that Hank is seen as such a perfect guy, but he wanted to see him edged up a bit, and this is how Henry’s character of Eddy came to be.
Mark finds the casting of Henry to be brilliant, and enjoys that his character was allowed to show “rage and adolescent anger” that was never resolved because Eddy had left the family. He sees the show as one about second chances, as Hank got a second chance at being a doctor out there in the Hamptons, and now his dad is getting a second chance at being Hank and Evan’s dad.
Of course this brings up the mid-season finale from last summer. Viewers saw that Eddy wasn’t just there to repair that relationship with his boys, but was also there to gather intel on Boris for the FBI. The truth behind all this was beginning to spill out as Eddy had a sudden heart attack, leaving the questions of if he was going to live or die, and “if he lives, will we kill him?”
Speaking about Henry specifically, Mark noted that he’s always present and always listening as an actor, and only wants everyone to do their best work they can do. He’s not only concerned about himself, but his scene partners as well.
In the first episode they shot in season two, when Eddy shows up at this party that a resentful Hank is attending, the line in the script is supposed to be, “I hope that soon you will be able to trust me.” When the camera was on Mark, and not on Henry, Henry changed line to, “Hank, I love you,” getting a more vulnerable and expected reaction from Mark in the scene.
Mark is just as fond of Paulo, saying their relationship in life is not dissimilar to their relationship onscreen. “He is as impetuous, impulsive, brilliant, spontaneous, and creative as the character of Evan, if not more so.” They have a great time together, as Mark explains that while they’re in the makeup trailer together, Paulo will be imitating about seventeen different characters from the crew or people who have been visiting the set. He’s grown up so much in these seasons, and “to watch him step into manhood as an actor and as Evan … is such a pleasure for me as an older brother would be.”
Since Mark allowed earlier that the writers and executive producer asked for his input, and it led to the character of Eddy being added, I asked what relationships Mark would like to see explored more in season three. He feels a little greedy asking for more, but if he has to, he would only ask to reach an even deeper level in the relationships they’re currently exploring. He’d like to see Hank and Evan perhaps going against their brotherly code even more than they did when Evan brought Eddy back into the picture. Mark is fascinated to see how their relationship will be affected by whatever happens with their dad, and whether he is allowed to stay there or has to go away to jail.
There’s also Divya’s relationship and whether she will have to move away with Raj, move to Europe, or stay where she is. He’d also love to see his dynamic with Boris be taken to the next level, where they’re forced even more out of that landlord/tenant bond.
As far as the cliffhanger for the end of the second season, I asked Mark if he could tell me anything about it, and he did, and could have possibly divulged more than he should have. It’s quite possibly the only cliffhanger that could have outplayed Eddy coming back into his son’s lives and taking their money, and him dropping from a heart attack after he’s outed as a narc for the FBI.
Mark told me that “every single one of the dangling threads that were left open-ended at the end of the first season and last summer, “will be brought to fruition, will be carried out, will be answered in some way, and two fabulous great climactic questions will emerge.” The first question answered will be a three-parter, will Eddy live, and if he does, what will happen now that Boris has outed him, and will his two sons be in his corner. Played out through the season will the question of which brother is right, Evan for thinking Eddy had good intentions, or Hank “for thinking he was full of shit.”
Additionally, there’s the question of Evan and his relationship with Paige, which Mark considers “one of the most delicious, adorable, poignant relationships I have seen on television,” because of both the writing and playing of the characters. Another question that will be answered is if Divya (Reshma Shetty) will carry out the arranged marriage and wed Raj.
The last question we’ve been wondering about is if Hank is going to end up with Jill Casey (Jill Flint) or Emily Peck (Anastasia Griffith). This storyline will be tied up as well, but will perhaps leave even more questions. Hank will walk in on Jill and Emily in bed together! At this point I lost all my journalistic integrity and gasped in the middle of the interview. He calls it a wonderful moment for not just an actor like him, but a guy. He wants everyone to print that exactly as he told it, “even if it’s 500 web pages.”
Yet beyond that, Mark allowed that what he really loved about being on Royal Pains was being on the subway or at the airport, and fathers telling him they watch the show with their daughters, or mothers and daughters telling him they watch together as a family every Thursday. There’s “nothing that warms my heart more” for Mark, as he used to love watching TV with his family. He believes their show has a nice message, and that’s that “people deserve a second chance, and there’s no stronger bond than family.”
Catch the season premiere of Royal Pains on Jan. 20 on USA.