Spend some time with ROYAL PAINS' Jill Flint

Jill FlintJill Flint plays Jill Casey, the hospital administrator for Hamptons Heritage Hospital on USA’s newest hit show ROYAL PAINS.  On my set visit a few weeks back we had the chance to chat with Jill about the show and everything that’s going on with it.

Us:  Do you want to just start off telling us about your character?
Jill:  Sure, sure.  Jill Casey. Jill Casey is—she’s a local, she grew up in the Hamptons.  She’s a hospital administrator for Hamptons Heritage Hospital and as a person, she’s a very driven woman.  She’s not impressed with the whole hullabaloo of the rich and the famous that live up there, with their big houses and their fancy cars and their attitudes.  She’s not impressed by any of that.

She’s more interested in taking care of the people that she grew up with, people that she had been surrounded with her entire life. The locals, the people that, you know, do work in the restaurants or, you know, the local electrician.  Just the average blue collar folk.  They sort of get pushed aside by these jerks who drive in there, you know, thinking they’re all that.

Her passion, her dream, what she wants to do is open a free clinic and that attracted me to the script, because it’s—I think it’s very relevant to what’s going on in this day and age.  I mean, how many Americans can really afford to, you know, go to the doctor, have healthcare and have it be decent?  And, you know, if you’ve ever been to any sort of free clinic or sliding scale clinic here in New York, they’re kind of scary. [laughs]

So, yeah, that’s, that’s where she’s pushing towards and that’s who she is.  I’m—I was blown away by her when I met her, so to speak, and I’m happy that I get to play her, it’s good.

How does your character parallel—how is her story parallel to Hank’s story in the show?
Well, I think that, you know, Hank is a—when Jill meets Hank, I think that there’s an instant recognition, because he also is not impressed by how much money you have, if you’re in charge or not, because he’s the kind of guy that will shoot from the hip.  He tells you exactly what he thinks, when he thinks it and he’s all about getting the job done and trying to do right by the people that he surrounds himself with.

And, so I think that, you know, when I meet him, there’s an automatic recognition, there’s a spark between the two of us, that, you know, “Ah, we’re on the same page, great, I’ve got an ally, because I’m surrounded.”

Even have the same car.
Yeah, yeah, which is, you know, funny and cute, I think.  So, I hope that answered your question.

Yes, it did.  Can you talk about the auditioning process, to get on the show?  [laughter]
Oh, my gosh, let me tell you, it’s fun, it’s really fun.  You know, they—you audition, you prepare, they fly you out to LA and, you know, dancing bear, [jump through] hoops.  It’s, it’s a little nerve wracking, but the cool thing about this whole process, for me, I was lucky enough to meet Jace Alexander who, and he sat me down right before I was about to go in front of the firing squad, so to speak, right.  You know, you just—you’re freaking out entirely and he sits you down and he just says, “You know, just go do it.  That’s all you have to do, go do it and have fun doing it.  You’re here for a reason, we’re excited to have you.”

And, it was cool, because the initial meeting with him, has sort of, you know, lasted throughout this entire relationship so far, where it’s, like, just do it.  Have fun, enjoy it.  It sort of sets you at ease, but—yeah, auditioning processes are always fun.

Can you give us an idea of, you know, we’ve all seen the pilot, but we—we’re getting hints of where all the characters are going forward.  So, can you kind of give us an idea of what happens from the point that we’ve seen, just kind of meeting the character?  What—and without giving too much away, but just kind of what her development is going to be.
[What can I] say well, I have to think about that one for a minute.

We can come back to it if you want.
Yeah, I mean—

She has a big secret, right?
Yeah, she does, she does and I don’t know what that is yet. [laughs]

Oh, really?
I’ve been teasing, my friends have all checked out the website as to what is your big secret?  What’s going on?  I’m, like, I can’t—I—yeah, I was going to say, I told one friend.  She’s, like, “Oh, shut up.”  I’m secretly a man. I think that will definitely derail our relationship.

NUP_135252_0733[laughter]
One thing—no, yeah, you know, it’s fun and we’re having a blast with it.  Hank and I are, you know, just starting to spend more time together and find ourselves in different situations that we have to work ourselves out and we kind of have different takes on things and different ideas about things.  So, it’s fun, because we have this moment of—we get to butt heads with each other and there’s, you know, a sort of sexual tension between the two of us and two different ways of looking at things.  Maybe two chefs in the kitchen, I don’t—you know what I’m saying?

So, that has been a lot of fun to play with.  But, as far as, you know, where she goes, we’re still working on it.  I don’t want to tell you too much.  [I’m just no fun].

I was just going to say, as an actress, you see so many shows that try and start off in a pilot and base—I guess, you know, male/female characters especially, try and pit them into a love relationship, right.  And, obviously there’s a tease of that in the pilot here.  Like, when—as an actress, when you look at it, are you, like, oh, not again?  But, then you see how they’re playing it out and they’re—you know, it’s not—they’re not going to jump right into a relationship.  And, that they’re going to, like, you know, play it out a little bit longer and that’s not the focus of the show.  Is that more exciting for you or–?
It is definitely more exciting, absolutely.  You know, you find a lot of smaller roles for women in these shows, they usually tend to play the girlfriend or they are these really strong women, but they don’t have the other side to them.  They don’t have the romantic side to them.  They don’t really focus on that. 

And, what I find interesting about this is, I get to play both, but I’m not just, you know, put in this one small category as “the girlfriend.”  And, it’s great that they, you know, are developing everything within time and it’s not just handed to you.  Okay, this is what you’re going to do and this is how you’re going to do it.  It’s way more fun to walk the—you know, push the boundaries and walk a fine line and, you know, there’s a lot of push and pull, give and take, which absolutely, as an actress, is a hell—excuse me, heck of a lot more fun. [laughs]

So, at what point in the audition process, did you first read with Mark and was there great chemistry between you?  How did that go?
I met him at the screen test.  I walked in the room and you guys have already met him, so you know he’s—big, bright smile and he’s very open and not an ounce of that is fake.  That’s who he is to everybody, all day long and it was really reassuring.  I automatically just started talking about my plane trip, which was interesting.  Very interesting plane ride.

So, anyway, we started rapping about that and we got along really well and, you know, it was great that we got to have a few minutes to talk.  So, it’s not like, “Hi, nice to meet you.  Okay, you ready to do this scene?  Fabulous.  Let’s have chemistry, let’s fake it, let’s make it happen.”  We actually got to work it out.  Yeah, [I know there’s a] question, I just start babbling, you guys have to rein me, you really do have to rein me in.

In the pilot, one of the storylines, but I think before he actually even meets Jill, is that the woman he had saved the night before, like, shows up at his motel and is, like, “Hi, I love you. Take me.”  Is that—I mean, as the season goes on, he’s going to be treating, you know, the beautiful people of the Hamptons who, you know, live these lives that Jill doesn’t.  Is that going to be a source of conflict between them or…
I think that the great thing about—I mean, this—there’s definitely a potential for that.  You know, both of us have a past, but I think the great thing about the two of us is that there is—we kind of get each other.  But, we’re still figuring that out.  I hope, to be honest with you, I hope that kind of plays in.  I hope there’s this sort of, well, I hope that there’s a moment of, “No, actually, this is what it is and I’m interested in you.”  That would be fun, it would be fun to play with.

But, it’s funny, because when you see his character, women are—you know, you’ve got him and you’ve got his brother and you’ve got—you know, he is effortlessly, you know, the nice guy, cool, the woman are automatically attracted to.  And, then of course you’ve got the brother, who—you guys have met him, right?  You guys have all met Paulo?

Oh, my lord, now being on site with Paulo, that’s a lot of fun.  Try to keep a straight face while working with him, try to have a serious take, it is not easy.  But, yeah, so it’s—you know, the duality, the two of them, it’s fun.  The women are automatically attracted to him, he’s just working really hard. Really hard.

Showing off for his brother.
Yeah, it’d be fun, it’d be fun to play with that, it’s—it’d be a cool thing to have that sort of tension, but we’ll see, see how it goes.

I’m going to keep asking questions.
Go ahead, I will keep answering them.

Mark was talking about, in episode three, he said that there’s, like, a Bonnie and Clyde, where you guys team up.  Do you want to—can you talk about that or–?
I don’t know, how much did he tell you? [laughs]  I don’t know why, I’m feeling really, really protective and secretive.

There’s a dock worker and they have to do something to do with treating his hepatitis.
Yeah, he has hepatitis and, you know, he comes to the hospital and he’s asking me—he’s asked me for a lot of things.  Oh, gosh, all these episodes are a blur right now.  The same one where he asked me for the MRI unit. [laughs]  It was so funny, you know, I will answer your question but—at [an interview] we were talking about hypothermia and we were talking about, like, this specific drug that we—that is used and da, da, da, thrombolytics. 

And, then—but then I started talking about a drug that we used in episode three and I was, like, so anyways, da, da, da, I’m, like, wait no, that’s episode three.  No, okay, we’re on episode four, thrombolytics, yes, thrombolytics.  Let’s keep these all straight. Oh sorry [indiscernible] Classic visitor. 

No, yeah, there’s definitely—he, like I said, he’s—I have my certain way that I have to do things, I run this hospital, I’m responsible for everything that happens in it.  And, then, you know, you’ve got his way of doing things.  He, you know, is asking me for specific favors that I, you know, may or may not be able to provide for him, and I end up, you know, “got some thrombolytics for you.”

There’s always a story that goes along in with it as to where he opens me up to—as I get to know him more, I realize that he’s not just a concierge doctor, not just catering to the rich.  I start to realize that there’s—he’s got a heart behind it and it’s not about money for him.  It’s about—he just loves taking care of people and that opens me up more to take risks in what I do to aid him and help him.  Because I’m starting to stand behind him, the more I see of him, the more I believe in him, the more I believe in what he does.  And, that starts to fuel the relationship between the two of us.

When I was watching the pilots, is there going to become a point where Jill feels like possibly she’s either stepping too far out of the boundary that, you know, she’s created within this hospital, in doing things that she shouldn’t be doing.  And, is there a point where she might feel used by him?  Not at the core, but, like, at that—that this could start to come up, and then I started thinking about, oh, is she eventually going to get fired from the hospital, because she’s doing these things? 
That’s a definite—that’s a valid thing.  Like, is there a moment where I’m compromising my job and what I do and, you know, just to help him?  That’s a great thing to point out.  It’s something that had actually crossed my mind and would be fun to play with, I’m sure.  I really can’t tell you.

It would be fun to watch.  Did you feel that Jill is at all resentful of the people who can afford to pay for these kinds of–?
Oh, yeah.  I mean, I was raised blue collar.  I’m not—I mean, we’re talking about my aunts and uncles and family that are catering to these people.  My neighbors that are catering to these people, and I’ve heard all of these stories about how they’re treated.  And, you know, I mean, I’ve spent—you know, as a New Yorker, I’ve spent time in the Hamptons, I’ve come out on the weekends and I’ve seen—you know, you have the locals that, you know, are working at the local coffee shop or, you know, local post office.

And, then you see the people that come in from the city.  You see they’re impatient because the people aren’t moving fast enough.  Or you see the—“Oh, total lack of service and yah, yah,” you see the attitude.  It’s definitely there and I think if you live amongst that and that attitude is directed towards you, it’s going to wear at you.  Especially when you consider that there are way more important things in life that need to be dealt with and need to be handled.  And, you have people that live in these houses that are gargantuan and they only stay in one wing and they’re there twice a year.  Are you kidding me?

Yeah, sure, sure, and so definitely there’s a resentment.  There’s a side of me that—and I’m not—not to say that everyone is that way.  Just because you have money, that’s not necessarily informing who you are.  But, there’s definitely a large group of people that, you know, treat us like ants and they step on us and, you know, they just—they know that they want something now and, you know, screw you if you don’t give it to me fast enough.  I wanted it five minutes ago.  So, yeah, for sure, she has aggression and anger issues.

NUP_135252_0946When they call your hospital like a taco bar.
Mm-hmm, believe these people? 

[laughter]  I know the Hamptons, the dirty little secret this season, is the homeless problem that we literally have, without exaggeration, [feet] behind mega million mansions.  Tent cities that are—people are living in.  The construction workers who aren’t employed anymore and who are living in tent cities with their wives and children.  And the maids who are—their services can’t be afforded anymore because everybody is having this, you know, feeling the recession.  When word of Royal Pains first started, I know there were a lot of locals that said, “Oh, here we go, they’re going to portray us all as snobby and horrible.”  How do you feel that you’ve managed to keep that perfect yin yang on showing, you know, the outrageousness of the super-wealthy and still relating to the dock worker, the–?
Well, in the first episode, in the pilot, when you, you know, when I meet Hank for the first time, I’m coming from a huge event held by Boris Von Hushahoshahsha.  And, turns out, he’s backing my clinic, you know, he’s an old friend.  I’ve known him for a very long time and he—so here is an example of someone who, you know, lives out there, employs people out there and, you know, so far, from what I’ve seen, has a decent relationship with his staff.  And, does appreciate that, you know, you see later on, him patronizing—he’s a patron for one of the restaurants, like, of a local woman who lives out there, he goes to her restaurant.  He’s a regular there.

So, it’s not just a very secluded, you know, I am—he’s definitely a perfect example, that there are people worth getting to know, no matter how much money they have, or don’t have.  And, he kind of, in a way, would bridge that gap.  But, it’s not entirely—and what’s the beauty, there’s definitely an—it’s there, for sure.  But, it’s not entirely the rich pitted against the locals.  But, it comments on it and it comments on it in a very funny way. 

So, you’ve got both sides to it and it’s not going to just nyah, you know.  So—and as you get to know some of the locals and then some of the people that live there, there’s two different kinds.  Because then you’ve got—you know, you’ve got New Parts Newberg.  She’s a—right?  She’s a fantastic example of, you know, this over the top, opulent character who is just that—you know, [when one]—I have a flat tire. Yeah, it’s hilarious, it’s funny and it’s not—you know, and you will get to meet more of her later and she—it’s, you know, there’s a lot of humor to it.  Where you just have to kind of roll your eyes and say, are you kidding me?

Well, there are—I mean, I think that’s the reality of it.  There are so many—and has anybody ever heard of Sir Ivan?  He’s a self-proclaimed Jewish superhero, who builds himself a castle and a moat and runs around—
Can we get him in one of our shows? 

But, you know, lives in a field with his big superhero cape on and his tights.  So, there are the mega rich eccentric, over the top, “holy crap, did I just see that,” people.
Do you know what else I think is interesting about the Hamptons?  And, not to cut you off, but it made me think that, you do have a lot of people, they may be extremely wealthy, but they go out there to escape and that’s where they hide.  And, then you get the other, the city folk, that are the sort of in between and they come out there and they’re the ones that are usually the really snooty, obnoxious–.

Yeah, I mean, that’s—like, they—you know, it’s not necessarily always even a money thing, it’s a status thing.  These people will just come out, like, and they’ll be renting for the summer.  They’ll have a—their little beach house, and they’re the ones that are just, like, you kind of want to smack them around [indiscernible].

They think the ruder they are, the more important it makes them.
Absolutely.  So, you know, there’s all these different characters that, you know, I think as a local, you would end up contending with.

In a show that has so many layers and so many opportunities with the rich and famous aspect, who would—if you had a choice of one celebrity guest star, who would it be?
Oh, one celebrity guest star.  Hmm, I have to think about that one.  Oh, can I just say Elvis? [laughs]  We brought him back!  I’m really thinking about it. The Obamas, that’d be cheesy. [laughs]

It’s okay, it’s a dream guest star.
That would be a bit too much.

He frequently campaigned out there, so you never know.
Yeah, right.  Hugh Hefner [laughs] and his entire entourage.  There would be eye rolling for hours from my character, it would be amazing.  I could have a field day with him, oh, man.

How much of you is in your character?
As far as the localism and the loyalty and, you know, fighting for the little guy, that’s something that I definitely identify with.  And, yeah, I felt pretty clear about her when I read the script, definitely.

Actually she was one of the most fleshed out characters, I felt, when I actually watched it.  As where, you know, the boys you felt you were getting snippets of them.
Getting to—yeah.

But, like, your character really—you got to the heart of her pretty quickly and so I liked her a lot in the pilot.
Thanks guys.  I liked her a lot too.

There’s so much filming going on around New York now.  I mean, more even than just a few years ago and as a New Yorker, I mean, it must be just a joy for you.  You’ve got a lead in a series, you don’t have to relocate to LA.
You have no idea!  I am a New York actress.  I am proud to say that I am a New York actress.  I—this is my home, I love it here and so it’s an absolute—not to say that I wouldn’t—I don’t travel for it, but it’s an absolute joy for me to wake up at four thirty in the morning and just be able to go to work and then come home and sleep in my own bed.  It is something that, you know, I do not take for granted.  Every day I go, thank you.

And, have you found that the location shots have gone well?
Yeah, well, this is what’s so amazing, is that we get to shoot out on beaches and we get to go to these amazing houses and it’s fun.  It’s a—it’s an adventure.  Okay, where are we going today and what are we—you know.  And, it’s great.  People have been really, really supportive, you know.  Shooting out in these small towns out in Long Island, out in the Hamptons, it’s—everyone’s been very, very friendly and open to having us there.  So, it’s been good, really good.

Paulo mentioned a chance to improvise in scenes and I was wondering, like, what your impressions of his improve?  With all the medical jargon you have to take and then learn, do you ever have a chance to do the same?
I think that, as far as my character goes, it’s—she’s more—it’s more by the book with my character.  I mean, every once in awhile there might be a moment where I’m, like, “hey, what do you think, throw this in?”  Or I just—I’ll throw it in and if they like it, I get to keep it.  If they don’t, oh well.  But, you know, with Paulo, because he’s so comedic and he’s—you can’t—Paulo has something that you just can’t stop.  You have to let him go—

Go for the ride.
Yeah, exactly, you just have to let it happen and I think, you know, it’s great and what’s good for him, is that they give him the room to do that and they’re really open and there’s nobody’s offended that, “oh, he just changed that line and da, da, da.”  It’s—everybody’s, like, “yeah, that was great!  Let’s do it again!”  And, everyone’s in the back going—trying not to laugh at him.  It’s good, it keeps things going.

But, yeah, as far as, you know, my character is concerned and what’s going on with it, it’s, I think, I find it better to just, you know, stick with what is written, unless obviously there’s something that needs to be worked out.  But, yeah, I’m not a big—I like to improv, I love to make stuff up all the time, but as far as my character is concerned, I think it’s good to stay—and I like what’s written.  I really—every day I’m, like, oh, yeah, that was great!  Or, “oh, I love that line where I got to say this and thanks for putting that in there.”  I’m—been really thrilled by every script that’s been handed to me.  I’m excited to say these words, so I’m happy with it.

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