Royal Pains returned last night, picking up exactly where the show left off almost six months ago. While the issue of Hank and Evan's father Eddie's health condition has seemingly been resolved, the second half of the sophomore season has certainly opened a can of worms that entails a lot of conflicting story lines and emotions. Mark Feuerstein, who stars as Dr. Hank Lawson, has a lot to share about what's in store for the coming episodes and plenty to tease surrounding this season's finale cliffhangers. Check out Feuerstein's Q-and-A from a recent conference call, which included BuddyTV's Carey Proctor.
Warning: The rest of this article may contain spoilers.What do you like about Hank's relationship with his father and how it helps the relationship between father and both sons?
Mark: I was hanging out with the writers, and our executive producer Michael Rauch was kind enough to ask me, "Is there anything you'd like to see in season 2?" I said, "Well, Hank is this pretty perfect guy. If there was a way to give him some dirt under his fingernails, to edge him up a little bit, I would be thrilled." They introduced a character, Eddie R. Lawson, our father, our estranged father, our deadbeat dad who abandoned us. I think as a result of Henry Winkler's character -- and he is so brilliant to have cast and so brilliant in playing the role -- you see another color in my character, which is rage, adolescent anger that has not been able to evolve itself into adulthood because the guy left us. I think Royal Pains is a show about second chances, about getting another chance to do it right. I get another chance when I come out there to be a doctor to the rich and the not so rich in the Hamptons. Now my dad is out there supposedly trying to repair the damage he did when we were kids.
Unfortunately, as you saw in the finale of the past season he wasn't just there to repair our family. He was also there to inform on our landlord, Boris, to the FBI and give them any pertinent information that might help them take Boris down, which means he was also using us. So, the big question in the coming season is will my dad live or die after having a heart attack, and then if he lives, will we kill him?
How do you and Paulo Costanzo, who plays Evan Lawson, get along when the cameras are not rolling?
Mark: I love Paulo, I truly love him. Our relationship in life is not dissimilar to our relationship on screen. There is a lot of love there. If you came into the make-up trailer on any given day while we're getting ready for the day of work, you would see Paulo imitating 17 different characters from the crew or people who have been visiting our set, and you would see me laughing hysterically and then jumping in and joining him ... everybody loves him. He's the class clown who also has true heart and love for everyone around him.
Among the people you've worked with so far, who would you like to return as a guest star or a recurring character on the show?
Mark: There's an actress who's in the finale, or maybe it's the penultimate episode this coming season, it's number 217 and she plays a woman -- the actress' name is Julianne Nicholson. You would know her from one of the Law & Order shows, I can't remember which one exactly -- but she plays a very type A New Yorker who left the rat race and started flying planes out in Long Island. She's now having the symptoms of caffeine addiction and uppers, but she's actually cleaned herself up. And it turns out that there's a sort of ... episode happening for her and she's so good, I mean she's so amazingly vulnerable and able to cover that as well as an actress. And the dynamic between us, I just thought there was great chemistry because the characters bond over the fact that we were both flying too high in the New York rat race and had to come down. She's just a great actress, and I feel that she upped my game in that episode. So, that would be the person I would say I'd love to see come back. But also, Tom Cavanaugh, who you remember from Ed.
How did you prepare for your role as a doctor on the show?
Mark: I followed doctors around, whoever would allow me to. I met with concierge doctors. I sat in on a brain surgery approaching the time of shooting, staring through a hole in somebody's head and looking into the center of who they are.
How does your character still surprise you?
Mark: The writers do most of that work. They are so good at changing the game and keeping it fresh, keeping it interesting. I can't tell you how grateful I am to have a writing staff that doesn't phone it in, that hasn't gotten bored with it. I can only expect in season 3 they're going to up the stakes and up the game even more for our characters. So, it's all about getting creative in your own mind with the work of imagining scenarios that evoke emotions that help tell the story, because often enough if we rely just on the words we're OK because the words do it so often. But in situations where you're just not feeling it, you have to find a way to surprise yourself.
What can you share about yourself that would surprise your fans?
Mark: I have an enormous tongue. There are times where I think I could have been a body builder if there was a class just for the tongue muscle, but that's a story for a later day. What is something about me? I'm not that fascinating, to be honest, but I love meditating. There's something that I can give right off the top of my head.
What do you and your character Hank have in common?
Mark: I would say the aspiration of Hank, the hope that he is living the best life he can for who he is; I share that with Hank. Hank is trying to do the most good for the most people where he can and given what happened to him back in Brooklyn. He has to make do with a new situation out in Long Island, and as an actor, you're always trying to find the best opportunities.
What can you tease about the season 2 finale?
Mark: I can tell you that every single one of the dangling threads that was left open-ended at the end of this past season will be brought to fruition, will be carried out, will be answered in some way and then new fabulous, great, climactic questions will emerge. First of all, we have the issue of whether our father, Eddie R. Lawson, will survive his heart attack. And then if he does survive his heart attack, what will happen given the fact that Boris has outed him as being an informant to the FBI. What will happen with his legal troubles? Will he be going to jail? And, if he's going to jail, will that be with us in his corner, Evan and me, or not?
Will we write him off as just a user and the deadbeat that we always knew he was? Then, on another front you have Evan R. Lawson, CFO, HankMed, and Evan is in a relationship with a rich Hamptonite named Paige, played Brooke D'Orsay. And I have to tell you the romance budding between the two of them carried all the way through to the end of this coming season, is one of the most delicious, adorable, poignant relationships I have seen on television, and that's not only because of the writing of it but the playing of it. They have such special chemistry and you won't be able to stop watching. You will want to know what happens next with the two of them.
Then, of course, there's something all of our viewers are dying to know, will Divya and Raj tie the knot? Divya is in an arranged marriage. She's of Indian descent, as you know, and she has been set up in what seems and feels like a merger with Raj. And they clearly are not, it's not an in love relationship, though they may truly enjoy each other and respect each other, and we can see it throughout this coming half a season ... that Divya's heart is not necessarily in it, but maybe it will be and maybe there's no hope for them. That's another thread that we will answer.
And then, lastly, I, Hank Lawson, am a part of a love triangle between Jill Casey, played by Jill Flint and Emily Peck, played by Anastasia Griffith and there's a moment -- I think I'm giving away a little too much, but I love the moment so much I can't help myself -- where I walk in on Jill Casey and Emily Peck in bed together. That's all I'll say, but suffice to say it was a wonderful moment for not just an actor like me, but a guy like me.
What relationships would you like to see explored in season 3?
Mark: If I had to say from what I'm working with currently, it would be more and deeper of the same. So, I'd love to see me and my brother going at it in some conflictual way where perhaps one of us does something against the code of brothers, which I don't know that that could ever happen on Royal Pains because there's something about that bond we never want to question. But, if it did, what would happen between the two of us?
I'd love to see my dynamic with Boris sort of taken to the next level, whether it's about his medical condition and how we treat it to some emergency situation where he and I have to actually go past the landlord/tenant bond, which we have already because one thread I forgot to mention is the one between Boris and Marissa, Dr. Caseras from Cuba -- and that relationship has taken a nice turn -- but in coming closer together a new wrinkle has emerged between them, and that's one that really brings on a lot of drama and depth for that relationship.
(Image courtesy of USA)