Interview with James Roday of Psych and Guest Star John Cena
by Laura Tucker
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Psych is back with a vengeance this Wednesday, January 27. They have a whole list of guest stars lined up for the remainder of the season, and it’s starting out with WWE star John Cena. They’re doing a bit of cross-publicity as well, as James Roday and Dule Hill guest hosted WWE Monday Night Raw this week. Roday and Cena participated in a conference call recently, yet because of their busy schedules, Cena appeared first, taking a few calls before he had to board a plane, and Roday was running late, stepping in just after Cena left.
As soon as my son found out I was participating in this call, he immediately texted all his buddies on the wrestling team to let them know his mom was going to be talking to John Cena. So I thanked John for making me a hero to a bunch of high school boys. I wondered because of that, though, how he handled fan attention from younger people since he was obviously making a big impression on a bunch of young guys.
John replied that he thought it was something you have to take seriously and that in “today’s day and age, that isn’t taken quite seriously enough,” especially since WWE is promoted as being TV-PG. He believes it goes without saying that if you’re in a position like that, that you have to be that positive influence. Even though it takes extra time, John thinks it pays off in the long run. We all have had experiences when we were young and interacted with someone we admired, then were eventually let down, so he tries hard to be that guy that the young people believe in. He also feels his personality on television isn’t so much of a far stretch from who he really is.
After all that, I wondered who his hero was when he was growing up, and John replied his favorite athletic hero was Don Mattingly of the New York Yankees. He felt fortunate to have a chance to meet him this past summer when when he threw out of the first pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He found Mattingly to be “nothing but a gentleman.”The brief meeting he had with him solidified “that he was the right guy to be rooting for.”
Looking at his involvement with Psych, John had seen bits and pieces of it before, just because of his relationship with the network, yet he wasn’t ever a dedicated follower. However, he saw that it was his type of sense of humor and knew he would fit in on the set. He thinks it’s very well-written, and he loves how it’s put together. Since working on Psych, he has become a die-hard fan. He likes where it’s going and was happy to help kick off the remainder of the season.
John stars in this upcoming episode as Juliet’s former military/current mercenary brother, and was asked how much fun it was to play a character like that. He liked that the character wasn’t “Johnny-do-good sort of baddest man on the planet”, and felt he was good at what he did, and while he was out to make money and knows he had to compromise some morality issues sometimes, he thinks it all leads up to a “very interesting ending.” He’s hoping the episode will be met with good ratings so that he might be asked to come back and play the character again.
Comparing this role to the one he played in The Marine, he felt that one was more “punch you in the face and see how big the explosion can be,” whereas for this current role, they wanted “that kind of super badass, you know, toughest man alive, that type of, that type of stick.” He wanted it to be a little different, too, and to be able to throw in a little bit of humor and be more in depth than people have seen from him before.
John had to board his plane at this point, but James joined the call and had the same type of sense of humor going that we see on the show. Looking at the wrestling theme going on this week, James was asked if Shawn and Gus were a wrestling duo, what their name and stage attire would be. He thinks they’d be called “Black and Tan, me of course being Black and Gus being Tan.” They’ll come into the ring in their “want-to-be male model attire” and will be know as jobbers, meaning it will be their job to come in and get their asses beat.
John had let out earlier that James was a closet wrestling fan, prompting a caller to ask if James learned any new moves from him. He first says the point of being a closet fan is so that no one knows, so he deadpans that he’s not happy to have been outed. He figures he’ll now have to beat John’s ass. He was worried, though, that if he went into the ring there would be a conflict of interest with Raw wanting him to join the roster. Because of that, he was figuring that when he did Raw that he would have to look awkward on purpose. Between the characters of Shawn and Gus, he thinks Shawn would win in a wrestling match, as he would go by Jesse “The Body” Ventura’s immortal words, “Win if you can, lose if you must, but always, always cheat.”
Looking at possible other guest stars, David Bowie’s name comes up, as he says that’s just his stock answer. He’d really like to meet him for coffee sometime in an unrelated non-Psych atmosphere. He’s also had a mini-Psych dream where they would get all five members of the Breakfast Club. He admits they have two committed to doing this show, but thinks Emilio Estevez is “going to prove especially tricky.” I’m pretty sure all of that is a joke … pretty sure.
James bounces back into the seriousness, saying he would love to work with John again, as he feels he would be an interesting character to explore. He likes that John’s character has a moral code that is ambiguously pointing North in sort of a gray way, and that “he’s got every physical tool you could imagine.” It’s a no-brainer to him to bring him back, and he mentions that’s the why they left things the way they did at the end of the episode. James found John to be bigger than life outside the ring, genuine and grounded.
It was interesting filming the episode, because there isn’t a military base near where hey shoot in Vancouver, so they transformed an old asylum for the mentally and criminally insane into what looks like a military base. They also got into that military mindset, by just wearing the fatigues, and while they’re a comedy, there’s more of a seriousness to anyone else wearing those uniforms every day.
The subject of the theme song always comes up in Psych interviews, and James was asked who else he’d like to see cover it after Boyz II Men covered it earlier in the season. He replied he thinks the Chipmunks should do it as well as David Bowie, and you have to admit that’s an interesting polarity between the two. He admits he’d want Bowie for selfish reasons, as he’d just want to hang out with him looking like his character from Labyrinth. He then got into an ’80s mode and suggested Tears for Fears, Depeche Mode, The Cure, and the Smiths, just to see them reunite.
The questions for James are pretty much all over the place, as anyone who has interviewed him before knows that he’s all over the place. He was asked if he’s an American Idol or Glee fan, and he replied, probably much to USA’s dismay, that his girlfriend works on Psych, but is addicted to both of the Fox shows, and she’s even gotten him aboard the “Idol train.” It’s suggested that maybe the Glee cast could do a version of the Psych theme song, and James figured USA and Fox would love to work together. I’m guessing he’s being facetious with that one.
James would like to capitalize on that and do a musical episode of the show, as well as possibly do an episode revolving around dream therapy where we get to see what Gus dreams about. He figures it would be like a giant foot locker organized like it’s a mile long and everything is color-tabbed just so, with Halley Berry keeping it all safe. In fact, all the women would look like Halle Berry. He’d really like to convince show creator Steve Franks to go there one week.
I have to admit, I’d tune in for any of these ideas for Psych, but first I’ll tune into the mid-season premiere on Wednesday, January 27, on USA Channel.
Laura Tucker is the webmaster of Reality Shack and its accompanying Reality Shack Blog, provides reviews at Viewpoints, and provides entertainment news pieces at Gather. She is also an Associate Instructor and 2nd dan black belt in tae kwon do with South Elgin Martial Arts. Laura can be reached at LauraBelle@realityshack.com.
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