Ally Sheedy Get Psyched for the season 4 finale
The Season 4 finale of Psych, entitled Mr. Yin Presents will air on Wednesday, March 10 at 10 PM ET on the USA Network. Along with series stars James Roday and Dule Hill, the episode will feature a special guest-starring turn from actress Ally Sheedy. Roday and Sheedy recently held a conference call to discuss the season finale, and here's what they both had to say.
My first question is what are some of your favorite episodes in Psych's four seasons?
James Roday: I assume you're asking me that question?
Sure, well, if Ally wants to answer as well...
James Roday: That's a lot of pressure to put on Ally -
Ally Sheedy: That's okay. I love the episodes that have Yang in them.
James Roday: Yes. Ally likes the Yang episodes. I too, like the Yang episodes. I would toss in just a random sampling of - let's see, I've always been really fond of the tele-novella episode where we spoofed a Spanish soap opera that was called "Lights, Camera, Homicidio." I think like half of season one is very dear to me just because we were sort of flying by the seat of our pants and every week was truly a new adventure. I look back at some of those episodes and even though they may not be the greatest episodes they'll always have - they'll be very near and dear to me because it was just so much love happening to get this show off the ground. Then more recently they let me direct for the first time in season three and I'll always remember that very fondly. That was the "Tuesday the 17th" episode and the first time John Landis came up to work with us on an episode called "Scary Sherry," that also was one heck of an experience. But mostly the episodes with Mr. Yang.
Ally Sheedy: See why I like doing this show? There you go.
James Roday: Yes.
Where do you get the creative inspiration for your character to be so bizarre and different? Do you get all that from the script or is there someone in your life that you modeled the character after?
James Roday: It's a really great character because he kind of lives by his own set of rules and he's Peter Pan. He's Puck, I don't know real people like him. To approach any situation first and ask questions later that's just Shawn, and I think I've sort of found it along the way. Like I said if you go back and watch early episodes and compare them to the stuff that we're doing now I think the evolution of the character is - you can see a lot of differences. I've always sort of trusted in the fact that this guy doesn't think a whole lot before he does stuff, so I try not to think too much before I do stuff, and I think it's worked out okay.
Clearly in this episode there is a lot of Hitchcock references. James I was wondering if there is anyone else you drew inspiration from - influences from when you were directing this episode?
James Roday: You know, I really do try to stay as faithful to Hitchcock as I could both aesthetically and in pacing and I just shamelessly ripped off four or five shots straight out of his films, quite frankly. It was an homage episode and I'm a Hitchcock fan, and Andy Berman who wrote the episode with me, is a Hitchcock fan. As much as we could get away with doing Hitchcock in a Psych episode that's definitely what we set out to do.
Ally, from the season finale it looks like we may be seeing more of you. Do you know when that might be, how long we'll have to wait to see you again?
Ally Sheedy: I don't know. I think there is a strange secretive sort of story going on here and so I'm not going to answer that unless James says I can.
James Roday: I think it's fair to say we have not seen the last of her and we'll leave it at that.
Ally Sheedy: Okay, there we go.
Ally, how hard is it to be kind of menacing - this menacing character on such a hilarious show?
Ally Sheedy: Oh, it's not hard at all. It's not hard at all because everybody is so whacked out and so extreme that I feel like I'm not in the middle of some very serious true to life drama where I have to pull out all these details about how a serial killer would really behave. I just feel like I get to sort of swing out there and wing it, and it was fun working with James as a director because I definitely had the feeling like anything I could come up with goes. Nobody was coming up to me and saying, well, that's really not how da, da, da, da, da. I felt like I have total freedom with this character to go anywhere, which is the best when you're working.
James, the episode that we'll be seeing has kind of a little bit shocked and surprised a lot of the fans. It's kind of hard for them to figure out what's going to be happening. Is that surprise element something that you feel is important not only to this episode coming up but to the show itself?
James Roday: I don't want to pull the rug out from under our fans every week and slap them in the face with stuff, but this was a season finale and it was the long awaited return of Mr. Yang, and yes, we kind of wanted to load our canon with as much stuff as we could. That's a fun way to end a season, I think.
Are there any clues as to who Yin is in either of the two episodes that we have?
James Roday: No, nothing overt. We're still sort of working that out ourselves, but we'll make sure that when we do finally sort of come clean we'll do our best not to make it one of those things where retrospectively it's like, well, that's not - that couldn't have been possible. We'll do our best not to cheat. I don't think we've backed ourselves into any corners so far. We've kept it pretty ambiguous. We'll just come up with something really cool and then lay it out there.
I guess it's obvious now that ed Mr. Yin Presents was always kind of being formed since the first episode but how did the whole story line come together and how long have you been working on writing it, James?
James Roday: Well, we sort of - we kind of had to ... that it would be fun to do a trilogy within the landscape of Psych. For a while it was just me and Andy that thought that was cool and then we did the first one and it kind of went over like gangbusters. And Ally was a huge part of our campaign to keep going because I think she did such a marvelous job with that character that it's like how can you not want more of that? I've got to give credit to Jimmi Simpson, too, who also came in and created this unbelievable sort of character that we didn't want to see the end of yet either. A lot of things came together to sort of give us a boost and then from there it was sort of like a no-brainer. We started thinking about the second Yang, I think a day after the first one aired and everybody was so pumped about it. We have not stopped thinking about it since because we still have more work to do.
Ally Sheedy: Thank you for saying all that, James, -
James Roday: It's so true, though.
Ally Sheedy: Thank you. That made my day, definitely made my day.
James, I thought that was a pretty good Jimmy Stewart impersonation you had there. How long did it take to perfect that, or was that one of those kind of impersonations that you have to know as an actor?
James Roday: You know what? I didn't think I had a Jimmy Stewart in my canon but Andy wrote it and I gave it a shot with a full disclaimer that if it was terrible we would not be using it. It's a bad Jimmy Stewart impression but it's good enough that you know who it is. Yes, that's what I have to say about that.
I know that Hitchcock loved to kind of do most of his directing in preproduction in the fact that he kind of knew how he would be directing before the first day of shooting. Did you approach it this way, the same way that Hitchcock approached it?
James Roday: No. Hitchcock, God love him, he's one of the great masters of all time, but he did used to stick to that whole idea that the entire movie was in his head before he stepped on set for the first day and that never once in his entire career did anything ever change. That's like the most impossible thing in the world for me to believe if for no other reason than something must have fallen over at some point or exploded or something. We're a TV show on a seven day schedule so it's like you want to make people laugh, come in with a plan. Ha, ha that's very funny. You learn very quickly that if you can get two or three or maybe four of the things right or at least close to what you had in your head over the course of a seven day shoot then you've succeeded. That's a lot to be happy about. The same goes for this episode. I sort of chose my battles and I picked the things that I really, really, really wanted to look like the way that they were storyboarded or the way that they were conceived and everything else you're just rolling with the punches and collaborating like crazy and hoping that other people will step up and make you look good because you simply haven't had time to think about some stuff as much as others. For this episode the Hitchcock stuff was obviously very important. We wanted to service that as best as we could and it was a lot. It was a very ambitious episode. Andy and I had sort of looked at each other several times and we were like, gosh, why did we think we could do this? It's a game and you've kind of got to be ready for anything at any time and that's the fun of it also.
James, since the show likes to reference the 80s so much, what was it like for you working opposite Ally?
James Roday: It kind of goes back to that last question, I've been a huge Ally Sheedy fan for a long time and she's been on our board of people that absolutely must come on the show since the very beginning. It's surreal. It really is. You grow up and you have dreams of doing this for a living and you have people that inspired you and then you get lucky enough to do it and one day you're sitting across from them and it's crazy, but it's also - it's unbelievable. All you can do is - you just kind of want to capture these moments in little time capsules because -
Ally Sheedy: It's so cool. James, what's really funny is when we were sitting in the car for the first scene in the first episode, I was sitting there and was just okay, ready, jump off the cliff here and just do my thing; but I was also thinking please let me do a good job for him. You don't know what goes on, on the other side, too. It's like both of us, you know?
James Roday: Yes, I haven't been nervous many times on our show, I have to be honest, but I had the butterflies going with Ally.
Ally Sheedy: Aw, you know, I did not know. Cool.
Ally, what's the best part about playing Mr. Yang?
Ally Sheedy: Everything. Everything about Mr. Yang is fun for me, everything. When I read this one and - I wish somebody could read what I read for the first one. Mr. Yang is on a bungee cord like banging off walls. You know what I mean? I read that and then I gave it to my kid to read and I said, "I don't have a clue how they're going to do this." She thought it was just hilarious. I also said to Rebecca, "I've done a lot of stuff in my career as you know, my darling girl, but I have never been on a bungee cord."
Ally, how did you prepare for this role for Mr. Yang?
Ally Sheedy: I just told myself not to get - just to not plan anything ahead of time. It was so funny and wacky so I decided to completely dispense with the creepy dark, very serious and brooding serial killer thing and just like I thought the whole thing was hysterically funny. I thought that whole monologue in the car in the first one was hysterically funny. So I decided I was going to do that and if somebody thinks it should be not funny then they'll come and tell me.
James, what was it like doing a more dramatic episode of Psych. Usually you guys are more comedic and funny. What was it like doing such a dramatic episode?
James Roday: We as the cast dig those. We don't get to do them very often. As much as we love our show and as lucky as we are to do it and still be doing it, any time we can mix things up it's fun for us because we get to work different muscles and even if it's just for a week it's fun to mix things up. Once or twice a year we know that we'll have these episodes coming up and everybody gets pumped and everybody gets a little extra sleep. We don't go out as much and we recognize it as an opportunity to do something that we don't always get to do.
James, the question for you is first of all, this episode is extremely Shawn focused and kind of features a little more dramatic pivotal moments for his character. Do you think this in any way will change the tone of the series next season?
James Roday: No, I don't think it's going to change the tone. I think it's another sort of feather in the cap of Shawn's growth. Obviously I'm not getting younger; the character is not getting younger. None of us are getting younger so we have to start addressing that. This is a pretty good jumping off point, I think going into season five of just like wow, everybody sort of needs to check in with themselves and recognize that you can't be a kid forever and maybe that should start informing our behavior a little bit. We're still going to be plenty silly. This is just a character beat for him more than anything. He's mortal even though he likes to think sometimes that he isn't. This is sort of just a wake-up call. It's good. You've got to do that kind of stuff once you get this deep into the series so that you feel like you're going somewhere.
James, how do you think the fans are going to react to the finale and some of the choices that were made by the characters?
James Roday: I hope they dig it. There is not a lot of build up to it and I think our publicity guys have done a really good j ob of sort of getting everybody's anticipation up and like I said I think we'll get away with it partially because it's a finale and everybody gets a few months off to sort of process and water cooler talk and you don't have to sort of adjust yourself to come right back next week and watch us save a sea mammal of some sort. I think the fact that it's the end of the season buys us a little bit of latitude and the fact that it's a little darker and a little scarier and the stakes are pretty high is fun I hope for fans. It's a nice sort of curve ball that we don't throw very often. Also, I think it's a treat to watch good actors doing good work on a show that you're a fan of. I think that's what Ally and Jimmi and the rest of the cast sort of delivered in spades in this episode. They certainly all made me look good.
Ally, can you share with us any funny stories about your time on the set of Psych?
Ally Sheedy: Oh my gosh, do you have like all day? It was the whole thing was really funny, but I have to say it's very difficult to work with Jimmi and not break because he is so friggin' funny. I just basically decided if I started laughing it actually would work and as soon as I did that then it wasn't difficult. Do you know what I mean? I wasn't thinking like, don't laugh because it's impossible. Besides I think I would find him funny. On this one there was an entire contraption set up which was a metal cord that was pulling me backwards so a certain part of the scene was just about the cord for me because I just didn't know when I was going to get pulled backwards, which kind of made it work even better.
In this episode you're acting and directing. I was just wondering what's the biggest challenge for you for doing both at the same time in a scene?
James Roday: The acting part is more challenging because I just don't want to think about it. I think I might have gotten marginally better from my first time out when I wasn't thinking about it at all and my set of eyes on the set, Andy Berman, had to keep running up to me going everything is great except for you. You need to go again. This time I think I was a little more aware of it, but truthfully there are so many things that you're sort of in charge of and there are so many questions that you have to answer after any given take from the director's perspective that that's kind of all you're thinking about, at least me anyway. I'm just lucky that on the acting side I'm playing a character that I've played for many, many years, that certainly helps. Staying in the moment as an actor is definitely the biggest challenge while you're directing.
Ally, was it tough when you first played the character to come into the show with this really tight knit ensemble cast or did they make you feel welcome from the get-go?
Ally Sheedy: They made me feel welcome and it was not difficult because this is just a whacked character. You could drop this character anywhere and I don't think that she particularly pays any attention to what's going on around her. She lives inside this crazy ass mind. I felt really welcome and I didn't feel like an intruder at all. I felt like the killer has shown up.
James Roday: We were ready to cater to Ally's every whim and need the first time she came. She was shooting in the middle of a rain storm in a drive-in movie theater and the trailers were way far away and she showed up and was just like, "I'm not going back. I'm not going back to the trailer."
Ally Sheedy: No, no. No way, it was fun there. How surreal was that? We were in a drive-in movie theater in the middle of the night with that crazy man who was worried about his car, you know the entire time. I just thought this is just nuts.
James Roday: She was awesome. We just all got to hang out with Ally Sheedy for a night. That's pretty much how it worked out.
Ally Sheedy: You're so funny.
James, what do you do on the time off during the summer? Do you get a chance to sit down and write more? I know you've dabbled in film writing some. Do you get a chance to work on that at all?
James Roday: Yes. I've always got some ball in the air. I've got to do it while I'm young I guess. This hiatus I actually spent doing a play. We started in Los Angeles and we're now wrapping up the run that we're doing here in New York City so that's been awesome and different and totally gratifying. That's pretty much gobbled up all of this hiatus. You've got to keep writing to get better so any time somebody asks me advice - writing advice - I don't know why they would ask me, but when they do I just say always be writing. There is always stuff on the burners.
James, you've already had Ally and Judd as you guys have mentioned. When is the next Breakfast Club member showing up?
James Roday: Good question, man. It would be quite a feat to get all five of them. You know what? I'm not just saying this because Ally is on the phone, Ally was always sort of a - like she was kind of number one and then Judd was number two and then there was like a three-way tie with lots of love for the other ones. I kind of feel like I've already - for me anyway, I got the top two on the list. It would be great to get all of them. I don't even think Emilio really acts anymore, does he?
Ally Sheedy: No, he's directing.
James Roday: Yes.
Ally Sheedy: Molly is doing a TV show, but Michael, I bet Michael would do the show, and he's really funny.
James Roday: He's awesome. I've actually hung out with him and he used to be on the network, so I think we could make that happen.
Ally Sheedy: Yes, he's great.
You can watch the Season 4 finale of Psych, entitled Mr. Yin Presents, which stars James Roday, Dule Hill and features special guest star Ally Sheedy on Wednesday, March 10 at 10 PM ET on the USA Network.