From the Set: Dulé Hill teases Gus’ love life, 100 episodes, and who he’d love to see guest star on PSYCH
In the middle of 2012, a group of us descended on the Vancouver set of PSYCH to watch them film their 100th episode, and to talk to the cast about what’s coming up in Season 7, premiering Wednesday, 2/27, at 10/9c (that’s tonight for those keeping track). Burton Guster himself sat down to talk about what’s coming up for Gus this season – his love life, what that means for Gus and Shawn, and what it feels like to hit 100 episodes on not just one, but two series, in the past 15 years!
So we hear Guster gets a love interest this season.
That is true.
Can you talk a little bit about that?
Yeah, we have the lovely Parminder Nagra. She’s on the show this year, and Gus finally kind of takes a few steps into the relationship world. And it still doesn’t go exactly as planned, but so far, so good. I think it’ll be exciting for the audience to see, see how Gus interacts in relationship land. We’ll see how long it lasts, though, I don’t know how long it’ll last. But it’ll be there for at least a little while. I’m a big fan of Parminder, too, so the fact that she was able to come up and, and join us has been great.
Can you talk about how you meet?
Uh, I guess being that we’re in, you know, 2012, and there’s new ways of dating and meeting folks with social media and all those kind of things, uh, that’s the, that would be the avenue that Gus takes to… [LAUGH] Is this the same episode where Juliet has to create a fake profile?
Yes it is. It’s the same episode, called “Juliet Takes a Lover.” Yes.
Can you talk about what’s happening with Gus and Shawn in [the 100th] episode?
In this episode? Uh, in this episode, well, Shawn gets invited to a dinner at, we don’t know who the host of the dinner is, and then I guess Gus becomes his +1 after Juliet is not available. And then I guess it’s a turn of events where our past kind of meets up with us right now, and somebody we put away is the person who’s hosting us for the dinner. And then of course some people start dying, and then we go, we, then we have to figure out what’s going on. Uh, should be a lot of fun. But I mean, working with these actors has been, I mean, unbelievably great, you know? Christopher Lloyd, Leslie Ann Warren, Martin Mull, God, Garrett Morris, and even Steve Valentine’s done a great job in his role. It’s just been a good time. I mean, you couldn’t ask for a better way to finish, to reach 100 episodes. To work with this group of people on the 100th episode is just the icing on the cake.
Does communism play a role in the plot?
Does what? Communism?
Based on the movie?
Oh, no. No. [LAUGH] I was like, what, no. No, no communism, no, communism, does not play at all, actually in this in this plot. But there’s a lot of running around through different rooms, and a lot of group shots.
How familiar with Clue were you before this episode?
I mean, I was a fan of the actors, I wasn’t really familiar so much with the movie. I mean, I knew about the movie, but I’d never seen the movie. I just watched the movie for the first time the other day. But I’ve known who all the actors are, and have been fans of their work for years. And I’m kind of making my way through. I think the only person, well, I guess I haven’t, I guess Mr. Boddy. I haven’t worked with him yet, and haven’t worked with the housekeeper. But everyone else, now, I think, in the movie, I have worked with. You know, all of the main characters, ’cause even I worked with Madeline Kahn back on Cosby years ago, so I’m just working my way through the Clue cast. [LAUGH]
Will we get any more music videos?
Uh, that’s a good question. Yeah, they’re a lot of fun to do, and I hope we get to do an, at least one more, at least. Obviously, it’s just a matter of just finding the right song. But the marketing team at USA is great, and at some point, they’ll come up with something. It’s a lot of fun to do. I mean, that’s really where you get a chance to live out your childhood fantasy of being a rock and roll star.
Talk about the Psych-Outs.
Where we mess up and all that? That’s pretty much how our day goes. I don’t know if any of you have been, I know there was a group that was on the set already. I mean, we just, that’s, that’s our day, every day, all day. We’re just there, laughing, acting a fool. [LAUGH] And a lot of times, we’re trying to mess each other up a lot of times, too.
How much of that is intentional?
We, we try to mess each other up a lot. Well, especially if someone is starting to mess up, then, we’ll just keep throwing coals on the fire. [LAUGH] Like, especially Tim, like, if Tim starts messing up, eventually, I’ll go, “ding!” And he’ll say, “That’s not helping, Dulé.” [LAUGH]
Talk about the growth in Gus for the last six seasons.
Well, I think going from the beginning of the show to now, Gus definitely stands up for himself more. He stands up for himself, and I think he’s owned more who he is. You know, I think at first he may have been a little more not so comfortable in his skin, but now he, he’s very fine with who he is. He appreciates that he has all this random trivia, and likes to eat food, and what? And has a super sniffer, you know what I mean? And I, I think, and, and I guess really going to this season, especially, would be the, the relationship. ‘Cause I think early on, Gus wasn’t really thinking at all about a relationship, really. He was just, he was thrilled to be moonlighting as a psychic detective. But now he’s looking for something beyond just hanging out with Shawn all the time. So I guess that would be the arc of it. You know, it’s funny, like, for myself, I don’t really think about, I don’t really think about the long arc of characters like that. You know, I just do the work. Like, I take it as it comes, and the character evolves on its own. I don’t really, I guess, put it in my brain so much as I more just live the character as he, as he grows. It’s like asking, myself, like, how have you grown over the last couple years? I don’t know. [LAUGH] I mean, you know, and I’ve just lived, you know what I mean? I don’t really sit back and think about how I’ve grown over the last seven years as me, Dulé; it’s the same way I approach my actors, I mean a- my characters. I just let them have their life.
Like Shawn had a secret relationship for a while, maybe Gus bought a house and didn’t tell Shawn.
Yeah, no, Gus, hasn’t bought a house. The only thing Gus has really been wanting to do over the last couple years, and I think it’s coming to fruition now, is, is getting into a more mature relationship. Yeah, I think he’s wanted that for a while. I mean, early on in the show, no. But I think over the last couple years he’s wanted to be more, have something more beyond just going to work and doing Psych. And as he’s getting older, he’s starting to realize that there’s more to, [LAUGH] there has to be something more than this. And at some point we’ll, at some point the ruse is going to be up, and people are going to figure out that Shawn is not telling the truth, and what is he going to do next? And I think also him seeing Juliet and Shawn, evolving to their relationship, has kind of turned a mirror on himself. ‘Cause when it was just he and Shawn having fun, then it was, it was all fine. But now the time has to be split a little bit. So what is he going to do with his time? And oh, yeah, I guess I do need to think about life outside of here, mmm-hmm.
How is Gus’s new relationship going to affect his relationship with Shawn?
Well, I think they’ll always have the bromance. I mean, no matter what happens there, there will always be the core. You know even with Shawn and Juliet, you know, Shawn and Gus are still extremely tight, and I don’t think anything will ever get in between. There may be challenges at different points, but really when it comes down to it, there’ll never be anything that gets in between Shawn and Gus. Simple as that. [LAUGH]
They’ve said we get a musical episode this season. Is there going to be a lot of dancing?
That’s a good question. And I think Steve Franks is coming here later today, so that might be a question to ask him. You know, I wouldn’t mind it, it’d be fun. Maybe a little something, but I don’t know if there will be a full routine. But I, I, you know, it’s all in the mind of Steve Franks, so, [LAUGH] so I…
Maybe it’ll be a chorus line.
Yeah, just doing kicks, you know what I mean? I’ll be, ah! Ah! [LAUGH] You know, it’s possible! [LAUGH] It’s very possible. I wouldn’t be opposed to it. But I would ask Steve when he comes here later, uh-huh.
SPOILER ALERT They mentioned the girlfriend having a kid, can you tell us more about that?
Well, I know it was dropped on Gus’s lap. That’s not something that he walked into, uh, wide-eyed. He was kind of blindsided by that, which, I guess you figure in Gus’s world, that’s, something like that is bound to happen. And then he just kind of dives head-first in, and I think it’ll be fun seeing Gus just get all caught up in that world, as if he’s been there all along, and how he has this new family, when he just met ’em a couple weeks ago. I think that’ll be fun for, [LAUGH] for people to see, and Shawn will call Gus out a lot on that. So there’ll be that. You know, and it kind of happens, too, like, you know, when people, like, I don’t have any kids, but you know, I have friends that all of a sudden, as soon as they have a baby, all of a sudden now it’s all about the baby. And I’m like, you know, you’re a grown man talking to me about a baby. What are you talking about, you know? Just like two weeks ago, you know? [LAUGH] You were like, man, forget that, and now you know you have a baby, it’s all about, man, the kids, man, the kids. You know, family. I’m like, what are you talking about? So I think you’ll see, we’ll kind of see some of that action happen with Gus a lot, Gus and Shawn. [LAUGH]
What does it mean to you to get to 100 on this show?
It goes beyond what I even thought, expected for the show. I mean, I didn’t realize that the show would go this long, and I’m thrilled that the fans have been attached to it, and really, truly just, I’m in awe of the whole journey, you know? Before THE WEST WING, I’d never done a TV series. I tested for pilots and never booked one. And over the last 15, or how long, I guess 15 years now, it’s just been one long, wonderful ride. So to get to, I think, 100 and something on THE WEST WING, and now to hit that milestone again with the second show, I’m really speechless. I don’t have anything to say about it besides I’m just thankful. I’m really grateful for the opportunity, I’m glad to have been blessed to have this experience. I thought that you couldn’t really top THE WEST WING experience, with that cast, and, and all those experiences. But this has been just as fulfilling, in a whole different way. Uh, working with this cast has, I love them just as much as WEST WING-ers. And we’ve had a chance to work with just as talented and phenomenal guest actors as we did on, on THE WEST WING. And it really, and honestly, I did not, I just did not expect this show to have that kind of success. I thought it’d be fun, and it would be a great time, and something different to do. But I didn’t really realize that the show would have this kind of life, and have this kind of a fan base. But it, it’s thrilling. I love it. It’s great. [LAUGH]
You’re the common element between two very long running and popular shows.
Yes, I am. [LAUGH]
Can you bottle that element?
I would just say it’s the blessing of God. I give God thanks for his wonderful blessings. I can’t say that it has anything to do with me. I’ve just been the one who’s been given the gift of being placed in these two phenomenal situations. And if you surround yourself with talented people, [LAUGH] people will think you’re talented. It’s very simple. [LAUGH] Very simple. [LAUGH] Anybody else?
Have you ever become complacent on PSYCH?
No, I, oh no, I, I get excited every episode. Every episode. Like, I think we have, uh, Jeffrey Tambor is coming up next, I mean, the fact to be able to, these are people who I’ve watched, I’ve been fans of their work, for years, and to be able to share the screen with all these actors, it’s a dream. You can never get complacent. With, I mean, working with Christopher Lloyd, how can you, [LAUGH] how can you just be like, oh, whatever, Garret Morris? I go, yeah, it’s, I mean, come on. [LAUGH] He’s the original, you know, not ready for prime time, [LAUGH] you know, come on. As an actor, you can never get enough of it, never. I mean, and even working with the cast that I work with, I mean, I think that everyone brings so much to the table, and they challenge me every episode to dig deeper, and try to find other comedy moments. And that, and I, for myself, I don’t really feel like comedy is my, is my base; I just feel like I’m more attracted to dramatic work. And it’s, to work with these guys, you know, these guys and gals every day, it’s a thrill. I don’t, I don’t think I ever take it for granted to, to come to work, I mean, ’cause it’s so hard in this business to want to, to get a job, and then to have a job that runs long, and to be successful. And then to be able to be in the room and share the screen with, you know, Lesley Ann Warren and Martin Mull, it’s like, you have to be able to appreciate the moments. You know, there’s some quote by Albert Einstein; it says, like, you either look at life as if everything is a miracle or nothing is a miracle, something like that. I have it in my bathroom at home. So, just so you know, whenever I use the bathroom, that’s what I’m seeing. [LAUGH] But, but it’s so true, you know what I mean? You have to take moments and really appreciate every moment that you’re given. Because one, you never know what, when it’s going to be all done anyway, so no, I don’t think I get complacent at all.
So it feels fresh, even after 100?
Oh, yeah. Oh, I mean, yeah, ’cause each episode, you have somebody new coming in, you know? Every episode there’s somebody, some other, you know, phenomenal actor coming to play around, who really, and it’s also humbling, ’cause you feel like, wow, they, they think we’re cool enough to come all up here to Vancouver and hang out for seven days. Okay, you know? [LAUGH] Like, really, like, wow, that’s pretty cool, okay, sure, you know? So I love it, I love it.
Do you have a star on your wish list?
Uh, I would still say for myself, it would still be, uh, Martin Sheen. I would love to still get Martin on the show.
How great would it be to have a WEST WING homage?
Uh, it would be great. It would be great. I would love to do it. I don’t, I mean, I don’t know if it’s going to be possible, but we’ll see. Uh, but I mean, for me, just, you know, those two worlds colliding would be just an actor love-fest. [LAUGH] No, really, it’s like a career love-fest for me, you know what I mean? It would be…
I know the fans would love it.
It would be a lot of fun. You know, it’s, Martin’s a busy man, though, so if, you know, I think if we can get Martin, we can get every- you know, at least, fill in everybody else, but we’ll see. But Martin would still be my, my top choice. Just ’cause I, I loved working with him. I remember when I first did THE WEST WING, when I first came on the set, he taught me this handshake that Laurence Fishburne taught him when they did Apocalypse Now. And we still do it, we still do the handshake to this day. But I was nervous, you know, coming and working with, you know, Martin Sheen, and Rob Lowe, and all these people. And he just made me feel so at ease. And I still, like, vividly remember that moment, coming on to the WEST WING set, before we even got to air, and all this time later, and to have this, see where the journey has gone. To have Martin come around on this show, now, would be just a very moving thing for me.
What would you like to see for Gus in the future?
Well, I have a feeling the future’s not too much longer. [LAUGH] I mean, you know, 100 episodes is a long time. I don’t, I don’t know how much longer we’ll be around, but, um, I don’t know. I mean, what would I want to see Gus do? I mean, I would, I definitely want him to have a love interest. Uh, I wish I had something very, very substantial to give to you. I haven’t really thought about it like that, given…
Get a new car?
You know, no, never. Never. That’s one thing I definitely don’t want him to ever do is change out the Blueberry, you know? [LAUGH] That, like, you know, Gus and the Blueberry, they go hand in hand. I don’t know what I want him to do. He’s done his routes; the relationship was the big thing for me. I really wanted to see, see Gus explore that world, you know? And I think I would like to, yeah, maybe see him have another, another family episode would be nice. You know, because we’ve changed the dad, too, I’d like to do one more family episode, where we change the dad one more time. [LAUGH] I would love to do that. You know, that would be cool, you know? And that’s the other thing, too, well, I, actually, beyond Martin, too, Bill Cosby would be, that would be huge for me, too. And that kind of goes back for me too, ’cause one of the early guest spots that I did on TV was on Cosby. Yeah, so, I played the angry poet, you know? Yeah, I played an angry poet on, not the Cosby Show, but Cosby. That’s how I worked with Madeline Kahn. Mmm-hmm. And I’ll never forget that; I was rehearsing it, I was rehearsing that scene. It was myself, Doug E. Doug, Madeline Kahn. I think, uh, Phylicia was in the scene, too. And I’m up there rehearsing it, kind of doing it, and after a while, like, Mr. Cosby came walking out from his dressing room. And he was like, “No, man, you know, you have fun with it, you know, and you’re an angry poet, and you, you have swag, and this-” not swag, whatever he, he said back then. And he did the scene, he did it for me. And I was like, oh, wow. And as a young actor, I started to see, like, how you could just take words and really, beyond what’s on the script, you could just go, have so much fun with it. ‘Cause what he did was completely different from what I was doing. And that little seed has stuck with me throughout my career, too, of just beyond the page, beyond what’s on there. So to be able to, you know, and I’ve crossed paths with him throughout the years, to have him come and work on this show would be, would be great. Especially if I could get he and, Phylicia in the same scene, that would be phenomenal. [LAUGH]
Do the writers write the nicknames, or are they improv?
They’re a mixture of, of both. I mean, now they’re kind of, the writers have caught on, so they’re written into the script. Throughout the years, they’ve been a mixture of both. The first one, which I think was Gus “Silly Pants” Jackson, was just Roday doing it. And I remember doing the take, and after the take, I was like, “What did you call me?” [LAUGH] I was like, and that just kind of stuck. And then, like Lavender Gooms, that’s my grandmother’s cousin. Yeah, it’s, it’s really my, my great aunt, who’s still alive, and one day we needed a name, and I was like, “Oh, Lavender Gooms,” and we just threw that in there. But now the the writers have kind of, like, Sh’Dynasty, I think, was written, that was one that was written. And I, I can’t remember whether God’s comma was in the script or not, or whether we added that. But it’s a big collaborative effort around here. [LAUGH] They’re a lot of fun, I look forward to ’em. [LAUGH] Then Jazz Hands. [LAUGH] And then for me, what happens, a lot of times, when they write it, I always try to figure out, how can I bring it to life, you know? So that’s where I got the Jazz Hands, or like, you know, MC Clap Your Hands, you know, and things like that. I try to, like, it’s like I’m playing, uh, what’s, what’s the thing? Charades. Not charades, but that kind of thing where I act it out.
What’s your most memorable moment?
The most memorable moment being on this show? The most memorable? That’s a hard one to say the most memorable. I honestly will say the most memorable moment will probably be when Roday came to my house before my screen test to work on, I thought that was very, ’cause he already had the job, and I thought that was very cool for the lead actor to do, to come to my house to, to work on the scene, so that we’d be ready to go when I walked in the room. I think that kind of set our dynamic up. I was like, okay, yeah, you’re a real cool dude, and, and from there. But it’s so many, though. I mean, the first Psych-Out, ’cause it’s, the first Psych-Out would be one, for the pilot, the man in the mirror, ’cause that was really just me and Roday off-camera, having fun, just singing songs and coming up with this whole thing. And then we have this song that we made up back then called “Stuck on You”, you know? Stuck on you, stuck on you. It was this whole thing we were doing during the pilot. There’s 100 episodes, there’s so many. It’s been a great ride, I’m very thankful.
Would you like to see another reunion of Blackapella, and another rotation, kind of like your dad?
Uh, I would like to see another reunion, sure. I mean, I, I have fun working with those guys. I mean, especially Jaleel, I think he’s a phenomenal actor, and, you know, he’s just fun to work with. And it would be great to kind of get them both if we could, if we could have Mekhi and Keenan. I think I would like to get, like, you know how they have the Temptations, they kind of switch people out? I think that’s how Blackapella is, so if we can kind of get the whole group together, [LAUGH] that would, that would be cool, you know? But I’d love to have them back. I mean, they’re my buddies, so hanging out with them is a blast.