Talking PSYCH, JERICHO, and More with Timothy Omundson   

One more day and Psych will be back with all new episodes for the summer! Needless to say, I’m psyched! Ok, sorry about that… it had to be done.

Tim Omundson answers questions. -- USA Network Photo: Alan Zenuk Anyway, in today’s installment of “Celebrating the Return of Psych” we’ve got my on-set interview with Timothy Omundson, he of the salty language. We talked to Tim right after we talked to Maggie. Reading that interview may help you follow the thread of conversation at the beginning but I think it’s just as funny either way.

Before I get into what Tim was like and his interview, I thought I’d share a little tidbit with you. One of the USA folks I met on this trip actually comes up with/coordinates the website content for Psych. (So, in other words, she’s got the job I want!) At dinner the night before she told us that Tim actually writes the Lassiter blog entries found on the site! How great is that? Love how everyone on this show is so involved in making it a success.

Tim was, hands down, the funniest interview of the day. Kind of ironic, eh? Not that Lassiter isn’t funny, it’s just that he’s never intentionally funny. He’s the straight man who makes the jokes funnier because he’s not laughing at them. I had actually been “warned” that Tim was hilarious and, from the minute he walked in the door and threw himself down in his chair, I knew that information was correct.

Despite being dressed in a Lassiter suit, he was very laid back and quick with the wit. There was a small moment at the beginning (not transcribed below) where there was a brief lull in our questions – more from having already done five interviews in a row than not having anything to ask Tim – and Tim was all, “Awkward!” about it. It made us all laugh and got us back on track at the same time. And good thing it did because Tim had some fascinating things to share.

I knew that Tim had done a lot of different projects in the past but I didn’t realize just how many until I was looking over his IMDB page a few days before my visit. I’ve been watching the man for years and didn’t even realize it! It’s bad enough that I didn’t recognize him as Constantino on Jericho but how could I not remember his Eli on Xena: Warrior Princess?! I’m a bad fan, that’s what I am. Except apparently Tim wants to be that guy… the one who makes you say, “I know that guy, what else has he done?!” Plus, I say it just shows that he’s a great actor. If he didn’t disappear into his roles, I wouldn’t have any trouble remembering him!

But enough about me and my new crush on Mr. Omundson. How about you just read the interview and see it makes you love him?

Note: This interview contains some vague spoilers for upcoming season three episodes of Psych. You might find out a guest star or two as well as the setting for some future episodes. If you prefer to be completely unspoiled, proceed with caution!

So Maggie tells us you’re the first one the crack up on set.

Timothy Omundson: Maggie’s a f***ing liar. I don’t know where she gets these—it’s a blog, right, so I can say f*** it, right? If you have to reprint it, you can just put an asterisk.

Yeah, guilty as charged. And here’s the thing, though, I have the hardest job on this show. Everybody thinks it’s James because he has some lines and he has to be so brilliant and funny all the time. He does not. I have the hardest job because Lassiter is so straight, he’s not allowed a hint of humor or a smile.

So unfortunately, those two guys kill me. James especially is just one of the funniest talented f***ers out there. *pretending to be James* “I’m going to write an episode. I’m going to direct an episode. I’m going to write one every season because I’m—” And they’re really good, and he writes me a really good episode. So I like that too.

But he’s just—they kill me. And this show is just – it’s so funny to me, and it’s right up my alley that I just – I die. And I can see now, in watching episodes, they’ll start to cut away just before – and I’ll say to my wife, like, “Watch this,” and there’s just a hint, the lip is just starting to go, then, “Cut,” – the editors have gotten very deft in saving takes.

Nice.

TO: Sometimes, though, I can’t help them.

Tim Omundson as Roland Lassiter, Mercedes Ruehl as Gooch - Alan Zenuk/USA Network PhotoSo how did you make it through the Mercedes Ruehl episode?

TO: Well there was bourbon involved. The Mercedes—see, that wasn’t as bad because it was just Mercedes in it. So that one was okay. It’s really when James is on his game that he just kills me. And Maggie is a liar.

So she’s not the best at Mafia?

TO: Phhht. Please! Please! Although, I am not the best at Mafia either. I’m not a good poker player, and I’m not that good at Mafia because this is my poker face. *makes a terrible poker face and we all laugh* I really – it’s so bad. But Mafia, I did win one after – I think I played with them twice and I did – I was part of a killing, murderous team, a couple weeks ago. But those guys, they got me. The interesting thing is having played poker with them enough, I can tell, for as good as James is, when he’s bullshitting because he just goes all in. I know he’s got crap if he’s really going aggressive, kind of like with Mafia, but they’re very adept at that game. It’s fun.

I read an interview last night that even before they cast Cybill Shepard you referenced Moonlighting as one of your favorite shows.

TO: Yeah.

How was it working with her?

TO: You know, I started playing harmonica because I wanted to be Bruce Willis. I mean, was it The Return of Bruno? *at our blank looks* Come on, it was a brilliant album.

So I watched that all the time, and I loved it, to get to work with her was – it was just a bonus. She was—hello, Madeline, Madeline’s here. She could not be nicer and still quite easy on the eyes. And just, you know, she was fun and game and I think perfect casting, and the fact that, you know, the storyline of Lassiter getting to reveal his innermost darkest secrets to this woman.

And then, I – Steve, just he – I believe his words were, “When you read the script, you’re just going to say, ‘Thank you. You’re the most awesome writer in the world.’” I’m paraphrasing, but something like that. And sure enough, it was so much fun, and to finally get to see Lassiter with some other colors and some turns. And, you know, but the private moments are always what’s the fun thing for me to play that’s stuff that I don’t think anybody is seeing, but of course the audience gets to see. And to be able to be that intimate with her and reveal those soft underbelly and then, have it just slammed back in your face was just&madash;

And just the close up on that reveal was hilarious. We just watched the episode.

TO: Oh, I haven’t seen a thing. They don’t let me.

So does we continue to see that for the rest of the season? The personal stuff?

Tim Omundson answers questions. -- USA Network Photo: Alan Zenuk TO: They’re— as far as his relationship with his wife, absolutely. James is actually writing an episode where we actually meet my wife and it’s the, “Are we getting back together? Are we signing divorce papers?” And there’s been such a buildup, sort of, of who this woman is. It’s sort of his main back-story that that should be a very special episode, a very special Lassiter episode. So yes, that’s definitely going to continue.

And there may be some inappropriate crushes along the way this season. I believe there’s – I don’t know what I’m supposed – what I can reveal or not.

*checks to make sure he can reveal some casting news*

We got Jane Lynch to come in to play Kirsten’s sister, and I swear they share DNA because we’ve always— I’ve always that they were, you know, very similar. And Jane Lynch is just… I think she’s one of the best comedians out there. And she plays a Coast Guard commander, and they’re sisters. And Lassiter is just fascinated and intrigued by this woman in uniform. I mean, she’s very – she’s the female Lassiter in a way, so he gets a little bit of a crush.

Is this the oil rig episode?

TO: Yeah, this is “There Will Be Murder,” which I think they were going to call, “There Might Be Blood.” But so, yeah, so he’s just asking inappropriate advice of his boss and his partner in the middle of interviews. *gives us an example by pretending to stop in the middle of an interrogation* “Right, I’ll get right back to you. Do you think she’d like…” So, you know, Lassiter in any type of personal interaction is always… it’s just an odd thing. So it’s odd.

Do you have some favorite Lassiter moments?

TO: Anything where I’m not breaking a take because I, like I said, I feel like I’m the worst actor in the world, seriously. I can’t hold it together. And I grew up watching Saturday Night Live, and I’d love to do a show like that. I never did any sketch comedy and I’m not from— it seems like if you’re from Chicago you do that. But I’ve always wanted to do it, and I’ve come to sort of the realization I would be the worst in the world. I don’t think I’d be able to do it because if I got to do Saturday Night Live, the opening monologue, I’d be like, “Hi, I’m Timothy. We’ve got a great show, a great show…” *pretends to dissolve into laughter*

You’ve done so many different shows. What was it about this show that appealed to you?

TO: They offered to hire me. So that was one thing.

And I’ve told this story before, but I will tell it again. I went in not knowing it was a comedy or drama because you get – I got the one scene, and that’s it – so I got the “Sean’s Interrogation” scene from the pilot. That’s what I read, and was like, “It’s a cop show, all right.” So I wore my blue cop suit and I go in, and they said just – and literally not knowing, and it was an off— it was August I think, so it wasn’t really pilot season, it was just this weird out of the blue call – and they said, “Just so you know, before you start, it’s not NYPD Blue. Think Moonlighting.” And I went, “Oh, well I know how to do that.” And just something just clicked. It’s one of those weird little magical moments where you just clicked in the room, and I went home and I was like that— You know, the times that you go home as an actor and say, “Oh, yeah, that went well,” are almost, for me, never, like, because you never-like, this was the one, like, “I think that went really well.” And they all responded greatly. And you know, they were so positive at the end of my audition, I said, “I need to leave here because if you keep saying nice things it means it’s not going to happen.”

And I, you know, love— One of my favorite memories of my childhood is about going to say goodnight to my dad and him saying, “Hang on, you should stay up and this movie,” and it was The Thin Man.

Wow.

TO: And that’s sort of what I… I wouldn’t say grew up watching, but even from a very early age that sort of stuff, the really screwball smart and witty comedy, that’s what I really grew up loving, and this, it’s kind of it to me. I think Steve really wanted to create that kind of show, and so it was a no-brainer.

I’ve got to ask, since you were working on both Jericho and Psych, what are your thoughts on the two different characters and the two different shows and the different kinds of temperament between them?

Tim played Phil Constantio on JERICHO.

TO: You know, that’s where I just giggle that I get to do this for a living because I get bored very easily. I mean, it’s not necessarily a short attention span, but that’s why love this line of work because, “What kind of facial hair can I grow,” like, “What can I change?” I’m constantly, like, on the off-season, growing my hair long, cutting it short, shaving it off. My children don’t know who I am half the time when I come in.

So to get to do Jericho, which is working with a lot of producers and writers that I have worked with before – that’s how that happened. And then, like, it was just supposed to be like, I think, for a three-episode arc, and Constantino became this much bigger thing than I certainly thought it was going to be. So I was a kid in a candy store. And to get to have – you know, seriously, to grow that beard, which we now call “The Constantino” – and like I said, I’m friends with a couple of the writers, and I had a good summer beard anyway, and I emailed them, because I’m a freak. I was like, “Okay, I’ve grown the beard. The beard’s pretty fantastic. I’ve got to say, though, it’s a little Grizzly Adams looking. How about this for this guy?” and I emailed them a picture of De Niro from The Deer Hunter, which is a very specific beard.

And I get an email back, because they’re freaks too, saying, “Okay, ten guys have just sat in a room for 20 minutes discussing your facial hair. Go with the De Niro. We think it’s awesome because it shows that he’s still got some gruff, but he keeps his shit tight. It’s going to be awesome. He’s a military man. He’s going to be cool.” And then, it just grew into this thing, so I grew a fantastic Constantino.

And then, the second season when I went back they were – this show was kind enough to give me a couple days to go do some shoot – and I walk in, and there’s the fake beard they’ve built, and I went, “Well, first of all, there’s not that much gray in my beard.” *sees us looking at his hair* Oh, crap. So these get a little touched up before the show, darker than usual. You know, I walk in and just go, “Every day it’s getting grayer.” I blame James.

But I mean, Jericho was just—it was a gift. It was an absolute gift to be on a job like this playing this kind of character, and then on my vacation basically get to go do that other guy who is not that – he’s like the uber version of Lassiter in a way. Like, they were very similar but, you know, he’s the really pissed off dramatic version of Lassiter he’s the hero of that show by the way. I don’t know if anybody else told you, but he’s just a man out trying to protect his town, you know, and if some people had to die along the way, so be it. They were weak.

I thank my lucky stars for—

I take it you don’t have as much trouble holding the face in Jericho as you do—

TO: Surprisingly, no. No. Similar guns, though, except where Lassiter is this, he was a cross-draw sidearm, and it was very, very exciting. Again, you know, the attention to detail when this guy’s going, “Okay, I’m going to show her my can,” because these were the things with these writers, “I’m going to show her the gun. I think a cross draw. What do you think?” I’m like, “That was cool. That was bad ass.”

They didn’t let you do the beard for Deadwood?

TO: No, buy they didn’t let me have a gun for that one either, or ride a horse. So that was frustrating doing a western, not getting either one of those, although that mustache was real. And that was a good one, too, I must say, even though my wife absolutely hated it.

Tim played Seth Bullock on DEADWOOD.That was an awesome show.

TO: And an amazing one. I was doing— I think I was doing Judging Amy at the same time, but it was, like, a hiatus thing and I got Deadwood and I wasn’t under contract to Amy, so I was able to do both. But my wife couldn’t stand it. She was like, “You grew that mustache—” And you would see these Judging Amy episodes where I had this big ’70s porno cowboy mustache, and these burns down to here. *points to the side of his face* And they were doing this scene and telling me it makes no sense, but I already established it for Deadwood and so it was like I couldn’t, you know, get out of that. She’s like, “You could’ve just worn a fake one.” I’m like, “No, no, no, they’re all growing them– it’s Deadwood! It’s real. Like, they’re growing the mustaches. I can’t jump into that with a fake one,” and of course I could’ve. But I’m like, “No, no, you’ve got to wax it.” And it looks great when it’s waxed, not so good when it’s not. It’s just looked incredibly inappropriate, but it was fun.

I said to Mr. Milch-Professor Milch at one time, really in a panic. I’m like, “Well shouldn’t this guy have a gun, like, you know, a shiny brand new gun. It’s his first gun.” Milch goes, “He can have a gun, if you want, but it’s going to be between his legs because if he pulls that thing out in this town, he’s going to get his fucking face shot off.” I said, “Cool, no gun. No gun for Brom, that’s awesome.”

That was, incidentally, one of the other auditions where I went home and I’m like, “This job is mine.” And that never happens and I’m never that confident, but it just went so well, I was like, “The world is an incredibly cruel place if this doesn’t happen.” And again, I went in, like, barely kind of reading the script, not really knowing that much about it, and getting the lines going, “Who is that guy?” Having gone through, like, four years of conservatory theater school and never using any of that training, actually having to unlearn what I learned there to get a job in TV—

*noise interrupts him*

(Editor’s Note: Yeah, I’m the dumbass who caused this interruption. I was deleting some files on my voice recorder so I could get the rest of Tim’s interview on tape and managed to hit the “Play” button instead. So that’s why I specificed that it’s me alone below instead of the entire panel… Idiot that I am.)

Rae: *turns the noise off and makes sheepish face* Sorry!

TO: *jokingly admonishes me* You know what? It’s my time now. *everyone laughs*

Rae: That’s me, always trying to upstage the stars…

TO: It’s like I’m working with James and Dule again.

*goes back to his Deadwood story* So to get to go in and read dialogue like that and go, “Oh, this is—oh, I can do this.” I can brush it off but that is one of those where I was like, “This one’s mine.”

So what have been some of your favorite roles throughout the years?

Tim Omundson answers questions. -- USA Network Photo: Alan Zenuk TO: Brom, absolutely. Oh! Lassiter is, okay. But, other than Lassiter, seriously, Brom in Deadwood, Constantino. I mean, it’s amazing when I look back and, I don’t know, 16, 17 years, the parts just keep getting better and more rewarding, and it doesn’t normally work that way, and *jokes* I assume it will work that way for the rest of my career.

But those guys were just great. The dancing leprechaun in The Luck of the Irish, not necessarily one of my favorites but certainly has made me the king of my kid’s elementary school. There’s a kid down the street when we moved in who said to my daughter, who was three at the time and had never seen the movie, “You know your dad’s the king of the leprechauns, right?” So that’s very gratifying like that.

You know, Agent Number 3 in Mission Impossible III where I had one line, that was not as much as one of my favorite movies, but I got to do a cut with Tom Cruise, which is a recurring joke that everyone on the set is sick of… Every time I pull out a pair of cuffs I go, “Real funny, reminds me of a story. I cuffed with Tom Cruise once…” And they say, “Not that story again!” I think I’ve pulled it out three times this season so far, and that’s pretty good for being—

Being in episode six?

TO: Episode six. Yeah, I thought I’d let them go a little bit, but ask them about me cuffing Tom Cruise. It’s a good story.

How did you change as an actor after coming from Deadwood to Psych? Were you more confident…

TO: Yeah, certainly getting to work on a show like that and getting such a beautiful role as Brom was, it’s going to give you more confidence, but it doesn’t really change my acting at all. I’m still the same student actor I was in high school just trying to figure out how the hell you do this. I mean, that I think never goes away. I’m still trying to figure out just, in this case, how do I find the funny in those shows, how do I just not stop now that I’m playing Lassiter. You know, it’s just pretty much the dream life.

But you know, and the confidence—like, you can have more confidence going into a room, it doesn’t help you that much I think because ultimately it’s like you’re going to get the role or not. And I think as I’ve gotten older, and worked on more stuff, I have been able to relax a little more because, you know, it’s like you’re – I’m not used to being on a steady gig. I mean, most of my life has been guest starring. Just, you know, always hustling for the next job. And on Judging Amy, I wasn’t really under contract until the last year, and I think this – the hiatus between the first and second season of this show – was the first time I ever had a job to go back to after hiatus, which was a weird thing, and it’s a weird mindset to go, “Okay, I don’t have to hustle.” And that’s why getting Jericho on the hiatus was like, “What do you mean? I’m not looking for a job, and I get another one? That’s how it works!”

So I’m a little more relaxed going into auditioning, having been around for a while, seeing a lot of the same people, which is a nice thing. When you’re young, it’s like, “Who’s that fucker over there? He’s handsome.” (Okay, so I have good abs.) And now you’re like, “Hey, it’s that guy. What are you doing? Nice to see you. Hey, we’ve survived. We’re here.”

And I really think you’re right for the job or you’re not. It’s yours or it’s not. So you can’t begrudge not getting it. That’s why it’s like – the Deadwood thing, that one was mine, and those ten jobs I didn’t get after that, they weren’t mine in a way. Not to totally go, “That’s cool. It doesn’t matter, man,” but you certainly have to prepare and do your work, and there’s no guarantees. And it doesn’t matter how much you prepare, how right you are, if the producer’s best friend from college is—if he thinks that guy’s more right for the role, then you can’t dispute that.

Right, he’s the boss.

TO: Yeah.

Is there anyone that you would like to see guest star on Psych?

TO: We tried to get Tyne Daly to come play actually the Mercedes Ruehl role. It was originally written for her, and the schedules didn’t work out.

There’s people all the time I’m sure – Stephen Rea but, it’s like, like, I don’t know whether Stephen Rea— I’m sure there’s people who are good… that Harrison Ford guy. *we laugh* But I’ve met Stephen, I know him a little bit socially. We’re not pals or anything. But he’s one of the best actors out there, and he’s the kind of actor I want to be. The kind where you don’t know who the hell he is and you’re like, “Oh, it’s that guy. No, it can’t possibly.” That why Jericho was so gratifying, people not realizing until, like, four episodes in that I’m the same actor.

I just want to work with Stephen Rea. I don’t know if he’s right for the show, I don’t know if he wants to do the show, I just want to work with him. So he’s sort of top on my list of dream guys I could work with.

Are there other places you’d like to see the character of Carlton go?

TO: Any time he’s out of the cop shop is nice for me. Yeah there’s—it’s a thin line, because, you know, the characters are very established with who they are. But now, at season three, I think we can afford to do scenes like we did with Cybill where we get to see a little bit of the soft underbelly, the squishy goo that is Carlton Lassiter because he’s just a big girl, like any man that has a gun that’s trying to be tough.

I’m really excited to meet who the actress is for this wife. And you know, James and I have talked about what he’s looking for in that. I can’t wait to do that. Anytime I get to fire my weapon—in fact, I told Steve Franks, “Muffin baskets for the entire writings crew.” It’s a cookie basket if I pull my gun, muffins if – with butter. I mean, I’m going to send them butter too. But anytime I—.

Chocolate chips?

TO: Sure, anything they want, M&Ms or Smarties, as they call them here, which, by the way, they’re just M&Ms.

So you grew up in Seattle, so you’re very familiar with the climate and the area.

TO: Oh, you know, yeah. There’s so many positives to this job that that’s certainly one of them is getting to be up here. My youngest daughter, who’s three, she’s had two of her three birthdays on the beach in Kitsilano where we tend to rent a house every season. And we’ve spent a third of her life here, which is nice for me to get them out of L.A. – which is just a cesspool *said jokingly* – and to, “See that, that’s called a pine tree, and that’s called water and those are mountains.”

But you can’t swim it because the water’s so cold…

Tim Omundson answers questions. -- USA Network Photo: Alan Zenuk TO: Yeah, yeah, “Don’t go in because you’ll freeze.” She discovered that yesterday. I have this video of her going in and getting her feet in, and then coming out going, “Oh, cold, cold, cold, cold.” I was like, “Yeah, that’s always going to be like that.”

But the playground like right outside our house. There’s the swings, there’s the ocean, there’s the mountains and pine trees, and there’s just nothing better in the world. Like, that view for me, is it. I have friends who grew up in Palm Springs. They love dirty brown mountains. Me, it’s just that. So I’m like I get to be on a show and bring my family here and work here in this place that I love, it’s pretty darn good.

What do you do away from the show?

TO: I’m pretty boring, I really am. I try and hang out with the kids as much as I can. Luckily I’m so blessed to have, you know, the success I’ve had at this age where I’ve been basically home for all of my oldest daughter’s life. She’s six. And she was born right when I was on Judging Amy, so I had a steady paycheck coming in, and I could really hang out with her a lot. And now that she just finished her first year of kindergarten, so I get to be room dad and that sort of thing. I am trying to get Father of the Year, that’s why I’m staying tat. There’s a little—this local paper in Studio City does a thing.

Do the parents need to be writing into the local paper?

TO: Yes, I bake cookies for the class. I’m a bad golfer. Skeet, actually Skeet and I – his kids are a year older than mine – we go to the same school. So I see him at pickup every day, which is weird, like, “Dude, that’s Constantino and Jake. They’re hanging out.” So he is a very good golfer, so we try and get a little round in now and then. I’ve got an old car, a ’63 Falcon, that I tinker with and tool around with. Other than that, it’s like trying to strike a balance, like anything, of work and kids and the life. And they’re getting older now so my wife and I are getting to have a life again a little bit, which is nice.

Does that “this might go away” fear ever go away?

TO: Never. Never. It never goes away. And to drop another name, Roy Scheider, – my second job was SeaQuest – Roy told Marco Sanchez and Ted Raimi, two of the guys on the film, he’s like, “By the way, this never goes away. Like you always think your last job is your last job.” And I mean, Dulé may have a different experience because – well, Dulé does have a different experience because he hit the lottery really early in his career, and it’s continued, a little more of a, what’s the word, a charming actor. Is that the nice way they say it, “He’s a charming actor. He’s nice. It’s like he works in a salt mine. He does good work…”

So, no, I don’t think that fear will ever go away, but like I said, it’s a little more relaxing.

Is there anything that you’ve got as a goal for where your career’s going, any role that you’d particularly like to play or a director you’d like to work with?

TO: Well, of course there’s Hamlet.

So are you interested in the theater or…

TO: Well actually, James produced a play that I did this hiatus, and it was my first time back on the boards in maybe ten years because growing up that’s what you had access to, is the theater. That was a lot of fun to sort of rediscover that love. You know, the overall goal is really just to work, and the master plan has all worked out pretty well so far where I’ve been able to play these wonderful varied characters. And like I said, *jokingly* of course I assume this is going to continue for the rest of my life. I’m not a writer, like a lot—you know, there’s a lot of actors out there who have scripts in their back pocket. I’m not one of those guys. I always like to say, like, I’ve got sense for that sort of detail. I’ve got nothing.

At this point in my career—I’ve always said I never want to direct. At this point in my career, I’m starting to look around a little more going, “What do these guys do,” and just – I’m a bit of a control freak so I do kind of like – I’m watching the big picture and seeing how it all works. I think directing television seems a pretty unglamorous job and it’s, you know, it’s not “I’m sitting in my cozy little chair with people handing me my lattes.” That’s some hard work they’re doing. I don’t know that I want the headache. And certainly feature directing, it’s like, what a nightmare that would be.

What about writing?

TO: I don’t know, maybe someday. It’s not a burning desire. I really have to say I’m still trying to figure out the whole acting game. I still get such joy and it’s still such a challenge for me, not somebody like James who is directing and writing, not that he’s not getting joy from acting, but he obviously has that burning desire where he’s got more of a story he has to tell. Really, I’m very happy sort of plugging away like I am and trying to discover – just trying to be a better actor.

You mentioned that acting is still a challenge. What exactly do you find most difficult about the process?

TO: Every situation is a little different. Guest starring is some of the hardest work in the business. To show up on a set, you don’t know a soul for the most part, and maybe you’ve worked with some of the crew before, it’s – maybe if you’re lucky enough to know a couple writers – but to show up and sink into this group that’s already established. A lot of times guest stars, certainly on your Law & Orders, that kind of thing, they’re the ones carrying the emotional baggage. They’re the one doing the dead puppy speeches. You’re really earning your money when you’re doing that. But, you know, I don’t know why they pay me to do this. *sweeps hand out to indicate Psych set* It’s ridiculous. I come in and I say some things and I make some money and I go home. Don’t print that. *we laugh*

So you know, that’s an enormous challenge. In this job, in this situation, it’s still a challenge, like, “How do I make this guy different? How do I continue to grow this character?” But you still have to continue the same parameters because the audience wants what they know. They’re comfortable. They want to turn on the TV and go, “These are the people we—” What’s the phase? Jump on the shark? When suddenly Lassiter shows up in a hockey outfit and he’s was like, “Well, I’ve, you know, decided to join the Maple Leafs…” (the Maple Leafs happen to be in town) and it’s Santa Barbara. No, no, that makes no sense. But it’s like that Extras episode where Def and Cold Play just happen to show up and sang a couple songs.

So the challenge is to obviously keep Lassiter interesting and funny and keep the audience— Well, the hardest thing that’s ever been is to make the audience care for him at all because he is such a tight ass, and that’s why I’m so hungry for those other sides of him you get to see. Just initially people are like, “This guys such as asshole.” And I’m like, “Yeah, but you don’t know why he’s an asshole yet.” Like, you’re slowly starting to discover why he’s such a dick.

And that’s coming this season?

TO: Well, oh gosh, I thought it was there midseason one! You realize his life is a shambles. He was the guy at the top of his game and in walks this Shawn Spencer who’s stealing his thunder and his marriage has crumbled and his girlfriend just left town and there’s a new chief and he wanted to be the chief. It’s like it there’s always the surface but it’s what’s underneath…

Maggie said that Juliet and Lassiter are having a different sort of relationship a little bit more this season where it’s more than just coworkers?

TO: Yeah and that’s just the natural progression of, you know, initially here’s this, to Lassiter, this young girl coming in and he’s like, “What the hell?!”

And she scored higher on the detective test.

TO: Exactly. That was a great episode. But now, it’s like he’s accepted her and he respects her, and that’s the fun stuff we get to play off now. Who are these people who are friends, which is real, real life. I was saying to Allison, like, “You know, one of my good friends is this 20-something girl.” And then, I had to get a text packaging on my cell phone because I swear I had never sent a text in my life until I started working with her, and she was costing me a fortune.

And so then I’ve got an old phone and it would take me 45 minutes to respond. So I just went out and got a Crackberry because I wanted to be like Maggie. I’ve got say I love it. I have so many pictures of Maggie, like, in a corner like this. *imitates hunched over a cell phone texting* Just because it would tickle me to death her constantly on that thing. And she and James are so good that they’re like sitting here texting with one hand on a Blackberry. *mimes texting texting with one hand*

Oh, gees.

TO: And not to sound like Lassiter but how do you do that? But, it’s, you know, I can’t compete, and she’s sitting there. And now I’m like, *mimes texting as he speaks* “Hello. How are you? I’m sitting next to you. This is so cool.” So yeah, it’s funny where life takes you.

It must make it more rewarding, though, the journey to get to finding out…

Tim Omundson answers questions. -- USA Network Photo: Alan Zenuk TO: I’m living the Life of Riley. I mean, it’s just – it really is stupid. I mean, you just slug away so hard, and the odds are so against anyone getting a job, let alone making a living. I mean, and I got my SAG card on Seinfeld, which I’d never seen the show at the time. I didn’t know how lucky I was. And I took a day off of work at Johnny Rockets to go do my Seinfeld read and went, “Well this is it. I’ve arrived.”

And I actually went up to the – it was my first time on a soundstage – and I got to Kraft service and they’re out of coffee, and I’m a waiter in real life. So it’s a natural response, you take the thing, you dump it, you look for the grounds, you put it in, and I started making coffee. And the Kraft service guys come over, “What are you doing?” Well I’m just like, “You were out of coffee, I’m making coffee.” He’s like, “That’s my job.” *realzing* And I’m like, “Yes, it is. Make me a coffee!” And then, the next day I’m back serving burgers and fries going, “Don’t you know who I am?! I was on Seinfeld yesterday… Would you like a malt or a shake? You know a malt has malt powder in it. Just make a decision!”

So to go from that and, you know, it’s been a slow, steady rise. And then, it used to be I’d say if I could just get two jobs in a row I can quit my day job or I’ll—if I could just get a little bit of money in the bank. And the steps rise, and the steps do rise and then they go down. But to see the progression, and to see sort of it working out, it’s amazing. That just sounded totally stupid, but—

No, it wasn’t stupid.

TO: And it’s like, “Yeah, the plan’s sort of working.” And I remember the day telling my dad I wanted to be an actor and him going, “If you have a talent and you don’t use it, then you don’t get to say you have the talent,” you know? And sure enough, it’s true.

There have been countless times where I’ve sat there and said, “What the hell can I do for some money,” because I have no skills because I decided to go a conservatory program. And you know, I can’t work in an office. I did a little hot tar roofing. That’s not fun. You know, security in a bar, that didn’t work out too well. Nothing like an out-of-work angry actor working in a bar to just—you know, because bourbon doesn’t make you angry at all. So, yeah, that was not a good period in my life, just screaming and fighting with people.

There’s that constant thing of, you know, what’s going to happen? And I’ve seen a lot of good friends who were suddenly – their light switch gets turned off for no rhyme or reason and they can’t pay their mortgage anymore. And that’s horrifying. But in this day and age, in this economy, we – you know, that’s happening to guys who’ve got 20 years in a factory, so I might as well try and do something I like.

What was it that made you want to get into acting that was there, to pursue this as a career?

TO: You know, I got the bug really early when I was, like, 13. And I— this sounds stupid, but I didn’t have a lot friends in school. I was not a very – I wasn’t a popular kid, and I wasn’t good at sports. I had asthma as a kid. It was like all that perfect storm of—

I think I’ve seen that show.

TO: Exactly. Yeah, it’s pretty true. And then, we did a play in sixth grade, so actually, I guess I was like ten. And I was the butler who did it, and it was like, “Oh, I’m good at this! This feels right.” In junior high, there was a drama class, I took that, and the tree started to bloom, you know, the tree started to grow the flowers for it to bloom. And I never looked back.

In fact, I’ve barely—I almost didn’t make it out of high school because you had to take this math test that it took me – most people get by in their freshman year with it, it took me until like second semester senior year, and I still think my principal just signed me off on it. I said to my math teacher at one point, you know, “I’m done,” and he’s like, “Well you’re going to go on to Algebra 3/4.” And I’m like, “No, no.” “But you need Algebra 3/4 to get into college.” “Not where I’m going.” “Where’s that?” “I don’t know, but they’re not going to require Algebra 3/4.” And sure enough, I found, like, USC, which their one little niche theater program, no math, no hard science, just come and do your stuff. But now, of course, I can’t do simple division.

It’s overrated.

TO: That’s why there’re calculators.

Exactly. Thank you for coming in and talking with us.

TO: Thank you, guys.

Don’t forget! Psych returns this Friday, the 18th, at 10/9c on USA.

5 Responses to “Talking PSYCH, JERICHO, and More with Timothy Omundson”

  1. 1
    Vanessa says:

    You always have the best interviews on this site. It’s so refreshing to read them compared to the stock answers you get on most TV sites.

  2. 2
    Rae says:

    Thanks, Vanessa! I must admit I do love hearing that and that people are enjoying them!

    I can’t really take credit for it, though. I just get lucky to be in situations that allow for a more in-depth interview. When you’re just one of 30 reporters, you do tend to end up with stock answers. With just a few of us and a relaxed environment, it becomes more like a conversation.

  3. 3
    Psych Fan says:

    Where is this interview?? It’s totally not here anymore, and I wantses to read it!

    • 3.1
      Rae says:

      Sorry about that! Some code went wonky. I fixed it so you should be able to read the interview now. :)

  4. 4
    Psych Fan says:

    Yay! Thank you thank you thank you!