Emily Deschanel discusses working with David Boreanaz, Ryan O'Neal and her famous father
As one of the smartest, sassiest and sexist forensic experts on television, Emily Deschanel radiates on the hit TV show, Bones. In the role Dr. Temperance 'Bones' Brennan, Deschanel plays off her partner Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) as they try and solve murders from the past. With Bones: Season 2 currently in stores, Deschanel took some time out of her busy schedule to discuss this highly evocative and popular show.
I wanted to start by asking you about the DVD and I saw that there was a gag reel on there. What do you think is the funniest thing on the gag reel?
Emily Deschanel: It's been a while. I haven't seen the actual gag reel they put on the DVD. I just saw the DVD myself, so I know that it's going to be some version of what we saw at our wrap party. Some of the funniest things probably wouldn't make it to the DVD and that involved Ryan O'Neal singing and they intercut that with the American Idol judges judging him, which was pretty funny.
Then me singing and they had them judging me. That was pretty funny. I don't know what made it on there because there were some things that had profanity and stuff like that. I tried really hard not to do that, but there is also a bit of a... past with our Executive Producer, Stephen Nathan and it had a clip from a couple of movies that he did, but I don't think that they would have made them on to that. The things that stick in my mind on the gag reel, I don't think actually made it to that DVD, unfortunately. I can't remember it that well honestly.
You mentioned that at the wrap party that the Idol judges were there and they were judging you guys?
Emily Deschanel: No, no, no. They intercut footage from the show American Idol and they had clips of them disapproving someone singing and they just intercut it with Ryan O'Neal singing.
Oh, I got it, okay. Well, since you don't know what's on the gag reel, who is like the funniest person on the set who is always cracking everybody up?
Emily Deschanel: David Boreanaz is pretty funny. He's probably the one that cracks everybody up the most on set. He can be very serious as well, but when he's silly he's pretty silly.
And what would be a good example?
Emily Deschanel: He's always doing silly voices and just goofing around in general. I can't think of anything specific. He did get out a whoopee cushion one year and has a fart machine and that was funny, a remote controlled one from far away.
And he was using it on other people?
Emily Deschanel: Yes.
Did he use it on you?
Emily Deschanel: Oh, all the time. It was pretty funny from far away, you put it somewhere else and then people hear it and look around. It's very low brow humor, but it gets me every time.
I really enjoyed the new season. Now, the last season ended up with sort of a cliff hanger with Temperance and Booth standing together on the altar with a preacher. Do we need to go out and buy gifts?
Emily Deschanel: I can't reveal anything. Well, I think that whole iconic image as the character Angela puts it was a little disconcerting for Brennan and it's an uncomfortable situation for Booth and Brennan in the next season, in the third season, so we'll see how they work together but it involves them going to therapy together and whatnot so no need to buy gifts just yet.
Okay. Well, I spoke with David just before the beginning of last season and he said he really enjoyed the romantic tension between Bones and Booth; he wasn't sure that the series having them act on it wouldn't be, it might not ruin the dynamic. Do you think the characters will eventually give in to their urges or it's better for them to have them flirt, but not go any further with it?
Emily Deschanel: You know I think they should at some point; I think it gets really dangerous, though, to do it on the show. I think that the writers and producers are very much aware of that and the dangers of putting characters together and what that can mean for the show. You know, it's possible it could kill the thing that holds the show together, the chemistry, sexual tension between the two characters.
So, it's a delicate thing, but at the same time our producers and writers are very much aware of the potential downfall that could ensue so I think they're going to be very careful about how they do that. At the same time I don't think they want to leave the characters in the same holding pattern that they've been in for a while. I think that they're all trying to put the characters in a different situation.
Well, a lot of the other characters are getting into different situations, like Angela and Hodgins running off together and Zack is going to Iraq. Are there any changes you can tell us that are coming for the Institute without giving away big secrets?
Emily Deschanel: Well, Angela and Hodgins go looking for the man that she married a few years ago, which is the whole reason why they had to leave their wedding. She got married to a man in Fiji and so they go looking for this guy. Zack comes back from Iraq, but we're not sure for how long and he was discharged early and so that is an interesting thing that we'll be exploring.
Tamara's character, Cam, is no longer seeing Booth, but they kind of develop a friendship this season and she asks him a favor, to pretend to be her boyfriend for her dad's birthday and there's a little situation with Cam's sister and Booth that you'll see. And Booth and Brennan go to therapy, couples therapy, because the FBI is concerned that they're not able to work together because of tension after Booth arrested Brennan's father.
Right. Well, do you think in a strange way that having Bones father being arrested will somewhat help their relationship?
Emily Deschanel: Well, it certainly makes them address issues and it makes them say things head on, which I think is always a good thing. It can sometimes make people fold into themselves and kind of run away, but I think in this case these characters are being forced to face issues and emotions, feelings, that they have. So it kind of forces them to face it head on, which I think is a really interesting dynamic. And I think it should be interesting and probably a good thing for the relationship.
So I was wondering are you more of a science and data type person like Brennan is, or are you a people person, like Booth?
Emily Deschanel: That's a very good question. In school math and science were my favorite subjects, but I probably in my true self I'm more of a people person. At the same time, I don't think that's how I recharge. I guess they say that you can find out if you're an extravert or an introvert by how you recharge yourself and I guess I'm more of an introvert in that way because I like to be by myself to recharge, but I'm definitely a people person. I love socializing and being around people and having good conversations.
As far as the show, how much input do you have as far as in the writing and how much do you actually stray from the actual script?
Emily Deschanel: We have input in the writing to a certain degree, but there is definitely an open dialogue between the writers and producers and the actors. And then, you know, when we get a script there's definitely things that are improvised.
Some things make it into the show and some things do not, but David and I will always kind of try and find things to add to a scene, little lists or different things, but they're usually kind of add-ons rather than content, you know, lines. But they definitely weigh our opinions when writing scenes or if we have issues with dialogue or plot we're always encouraged and welcome to voice those opinions and for the most part they're addressed.
If they feel that they disagree, we can discuss it and sometimes the actors win and sometimes the writers win.
As far as in film you get several takes and you can back and you can spend quite a few hours on a scene. How long do you guys actually spend on a particular scene before you have to move on to the next one?
Emily Deschanel: Not that long. You know, there are days when we shoot eight, nine pages in a day and that's a lot to get through. We get a couple of takes I'd say. We can't spend all day trying to get the performance exactly right and you just have to accept that and move on and accept the medium that you're working in and you know, there's a beauty in working under constraints and limitations. I think a lot of great things can come out of that.
You have an excellent editing team I can tell you that, because you don't see the flaws.
Emily Deschanel: Thank you. We've got a great team of editors, that's true. And we work hard so that when we do the couple of takes that they're good takes hopefully. Not always, that's for sure; there are lots of bad ones, but we try to work hard. Clint Eastwood doesn't more than one or two takes in his films. And he makes some good films.
I was wondering how you felt about the show bumping back over to Tuesday night and pairing up with House?
Emily Deschanel: I'm so excited. I think it's a fantastic pairing. I think that Bones and House were kind of made to be with each other. You have these two doctors that are kind of prickly on the outside as the main characters and very different kinds of doctors and prickly in very different ways and my character you know is not quite as prickly as she used to be, but she still has that edge to her and I think they are a really nice complement with each other. So I'm very excited to be back on Tuesday nights. It's a great night to be on.
I was wondering, does the dark subject matter of the show ever get to you after a while?
Emily Deschanel: You know, I remember at the end of the first season David and I discussing how we were happy that we were almost done with the season. You know, it can be hard working every day and every day being about death and not just death, but painful murders. That can definitely take its toll on you and it has. I think at the same time, like my character has learned to, I don't want to say desensitize herself; I mean, she had, but I don't want to say that I've desensitized myself, but I've become accustomed to the subject of death and specifically murders and violent death, but death in general and I think as a culture I think in the last 50 or 100 years have kind of swept death under the rug, swept it away, don't address it.
A lot of people are not used to having death in their lives or anything like that and I think that's not incredibly natural either. So it definitely can take its toll. At the same time I think it's important to face your own mortality, which I do most every day by doing the show, to realize that your life is short and to take the opportunities that you need to take and be fearless.
But it can get to you, to be surrounded by it all the time and thank God that it's fake, that's all I can say.
I was just wondering, whenever the show is hiatus or between seasons do you ever want to get into doing films or do you ever read scripts for that sort of stuff?
Emily Deschanel: I do. The last couple hiatuses I have been pretty exhausted from the first two seasons. It's a combination of there not being that many films that happen during the time that we go to hiatus and then there's not many films that have characters that are appropriate for me to play and then the ones that I actually like and ones that want me to do it and then I had a lot of things going on this hiatus and I wasn't pursuing working that much because I two friends' weddings, I had my friend graduating from vet school and I really wanted some down time to relax. I was really exhausted by the end of last season and the end of the first season. So, I really like having to time to relax and then feel refreshed and energized to come back to the next season. My first priority is this character on this show, this project while I'm doing it.
You said you grew up around cinema. Now, is it kind of interesting that you're working with Ryan O'Neal who was such a big star probably when you were first learning about cinema and everything and what's he like to work with?
Emily Deschanel: I really love working with Ryan. He's a great actor; he's very giving, he's so funny. He really is one of the funniest people and he has great stories. You know, absolutely he was a huge movie star and really a talented actor and I've always thought that and it's been wonderful to have this opportunity to work with him and spend time with him. He's such a charming man, I have to say. He just charms the whole set, everyone. So I look forward to those days when he's working. He's a really giving actor so it's a joy to work with him.
I wanted to follow-up by just asking you specifically about the episode that your father directed and I'm wondering if having him on the set there doing that was more intimidating for you? Was it comforting and like more fun to have him there? Or how was that experience?
Emily Deschanel: All of the above. The first day working with my father was nerve wracking. I was terrified that I would embarrass him or he would embarrass me and it was probably one of the more tortuous days of my life. After the first day was under our belt, it was a great opportunity and I'll always look back on that experience fondly. It's very nice to work with my father as a peer in a lot of ways. You know, he asked me advice about certain things about the show and I'd ask him and sometimes I'd listen to his direction and sometimes I wouldn't.
But actually he's a very talented director and not just his use of shots and camera, but he's very good with actors and he knows acting well. It's great to see him do that and be really good at it and he's been doing it for a while and he certainly knows how to make movies, and little movies I guess for a television show, and he's going to come back in November to direct a second episode, which I'm really excited about.
To answer your question, it was a nerve wracking experience, but it was a wonderful experience in the end.
And is there anything that you can tell us about that upcoming episode that he's going to direct?
Emily Deschanel: I have no idea about it. They haven't written it yet.
Well, how was everybody, your cast members and everything, how did everybody react to him?
Emily Deschanel: I think everyone enjoyed working with him. That's what they told me and I believed them. I know Michaela Conlin mentioned that he was one of her favorite directors to work with, which made me very happy. I think it was funny; they've met my father, he's come to set several times before he directed and we look a great deal a like and I noticed people looking at him and looking at me.
It's a funny thing. It's an odd thing to have your dad just come and work with you. But I think they all enjoyed working with him. It was a lot of fun. David loved teasing my dad, but I know respects him very much and when he gave him direction, David was always trying to do what he asked and we had a lot of fun.
But I think he gets a lot of respect just because he's my dad, too. Even if he hadn't had any experience. But I think he comes with a lot of experience and all of that as well, so I think people enjoyed working with him and had fun and also respected him, which was nice.
Bones: Season 2 is currently available on DVD from Fox Home Entertainment