Exclusive Interview: ‘House’ Star Robert Sean Leonard
On the hit FOX drama House, which airs Tuesday nights at 9pm, Robert Sean Leonard plays Dr. Wilson, the trusty sidekick who remains Gregory House’s (Hugh Laurie) loyal friend despite the fact that House is constantly taking advantage of him. Rarely involved in the primary medical mystery, Wilson struggles to humanize House, though he is often unsuccessful. Currently the show is in a state of flux as House tries to pick his new team, so those Wilson fans hoping for more screen time now that half the main cast is off-screen for the first couple episodes are probably a bit disappointed.
BuddyTV had the opportunity to sit down with Robert Sean Leonard, and one thing is for sure: the man has a very dry sense of humor. During our discussion, he confessed that he doesn’t enjoy working, he has no idea what he’s saying when he’s involved in the medical part of the story, and that House‘s post-Super Bowl episode will be filmed at his house and air backwards and in black and white. One assumes all of those are jokes.
Hi, this is John from Buddy TV, and I’m talking to Robert Sean Leonard from House. How you doing, Robert?
I’m doing well, how are you?
I’m doing great. Now, in the beginning of this new season, House’s team is gone. And with half the principal cast kind of not around for at least part of it, is the mood on the set any different? Or is that affecting how it works?
Yeah. I mean, it’s not better or worse, it’s just very different. This season is very, very different, the structure of the show is different. The way it’s being written is different, and yeah, there are new cast members. So it feels like a new show.
So with those three gone for at least part of it, does that at least mean there’s more screen time for you? Is your character suddenly getting more involved?
You would think so, and I would not hope so, because I don’t enjoy working. But no, because the dilemma of finding a new team for House actually takes up a lot of time and trailers.
Your character isn’t always necessarily so involved in the medical process, so you don’t have to worry about doing all the hands and props with all the crazy medical equipment. Do you prefer it that way, or would you like to get your hands dirty with some of that kind of stuff?
Whatever’s faster, whatever gets me home faster. No, I don’t like learning medical terms and I love the way, I like my character’s job. I like being on the side, I like kind of being the friend who pokes his head in and says, “How ya doin’? OK,” and then goes home. To me, those scenes with the four of them doing the differential diagnosis was a nightmare. I was in a few of them on occasion, and I always brought a book. I don’t know what any of them are talking about.
With the new cast members, ’cause with House finding a team, are there any of the actors or the characters that you’ve seen so far who you’ve been really impressed by? Just like ‘Wow, the writers came up with a great idea for a new character on House’s team’?
To be honest, I think they came up with quite a few. I’m not just kissing up, I really do think the writing on all the new characters is so good, in fact, we don’t quite know what we’re gonna do. At the moment, our show looks like the Supreme Court, quite a few characters running around. I think that’s probably gonna have to change eventually, but for the moment it’s kind of fun.
Are they similar in any respects to House’s old team, or they are these completely new kind of characters with different traits?
They’re all new with completely different traits. Yes. They’re not similar at all.
OK, and I’m just wondering, because the relationship between Wilson and House, it’s very strange. It’s very convoluted and complex. And some people just wonder, why is your character still friends with this guy after everything he goes through? And as an actor like, how do you approach that and rationalize that this character would continue to be friends with House?
I think Wilson puts up with House for the same reason that millions of people watch him every week. I think he’s really dynamic and fun and audacious and self-deprecating. All those things that I think make people really appealing, and he tells it like it is. The money things, he doesn’t tend to pay you back, but I have a lot of friends like that. So I don’t find it that much of a mystery. I think House is a very attractive character. I think most people would want to be friends with him.
It was announced that House would be getting the prime post-Super Bowl slot this year, which must be very exciting. Have you started any preparations, or do you have any idea what kind of thing you’re gonna do? Because that’s a very high-profile kind of place to be.
Fantastic. Is it gonna take place in my house? What kind of preparation do I need to get? Like, Doritos? What do you mean?
No, just, have you started to like, do you know what the story’s going to be? ’Cause I would imagine it’s going to be not like… While it will still maintain a lot of the regular, this is what makes a great House episode, you have to do a little something extra when you’re getting 30, 40, 50 million viewers.
Right. I don’t know. At the moment, I believe, the only plan I know is that it’s gonna take place sort of backwards and in black and white. So it’s gonna be nothing untraditional, the story will happen backwards, like the Talmud depending on how you read it. And it’ll be a black and white, but I think it’ll be a huge hit.
-Interview conducted by John Kubicek
(Image courtesy of FOX)
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