Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Royal Pains - Mark Feuerstein Interview
Royal Pains is about concierge doctor Hank Lawson, who works with both the rich and the working class in the Hamptons, along with his brother and business manager Evan and their friend and colleague Divya, as they save people and build the Hank Med business . Its fourth season premieres on Wednesday, June 6 at 9/8 central on the USA Network. Mark Feuerstein who plays Hank took time out to talk about upcoming events for Hank and the show in general. Feuerstein came off as gracious, humble, warm, witty, and in need of a few hundred more Twitter followers. Get on that Royal Pains fans. You can find him @markfeuerstein where he loves to reach out to the show's fans, whom he described as articulate, witty, lovely people. He used to be in his own acting bubble but social media has allowed him explore and express his own voice, which he hopes will be funny.
Feuerstein started the conversation thanking fans who have supported him and the show and sharing the tidbit that the Evan character was originally supposed to be his best friend not his brother. However the two actors looked similar enough that they changed it. Since the major season 3 cliffhanger saw the brothers dissolving their business partnership, much of the interview explored how the split would affect Hank, Evan, and Hank Med in general. Essentially Evan will be busy creating Hank Med 2.0 with new doctors while Hank tries to piece together the remains of his work. Feuerstein felt this was an interesting story line because business partners in real life often have issues when it comes to growing/changing the business. His father is actually a corporate lawyer who deals with "business divorce" regularly. Since Hank often defines himself by his work, the transition is particularly hard for him. He's still working with patients but now he has to think about things that Evan normally took care of too. For instance, at one point a potential client asks Hank for a pamphlet about the business but Hank doesn't have one. Hank would rather deal strictly with patients but he's forced to look at the business side more because of the split. Although he feels "a little out to sea," Hank's all about succeeding in a challenge.
From Feuerstein's perspective, Evan is right that the business needs to grow. You have to actively search for clients instead of hoping someone will come to you. However Hank is a purist. He doesn't see why Evan is pushing to spend time on promotion when they could be saving someone's life or making someone feel better. Both brothers suffer a bit from tunnel vision when they really need both perspectives. While Feuerstein won't say who gets Divya in the divorce, he does say that both brothers woo her to work with them. It will be a major story point in the beginning of season 4. In the end, he believes the brothers will overcome their differences and be more mature and productive because of the schism. He hopes in the future they can create a new work relationship based on trust and respect. In the meantime, the separation allows Hank to explore life outside of the Hank Med structure. Evan's relationship with Paige is a foil to examine his own life as a whole.
Feuerstein was open about future guest stars and some of the medical cases they face in season 4. Ashley Williams, whom he worked with on Good Morning Miami, will play Sydney, the manager of the Blackstone Club. It's a very elite country club based off the real Stone Club in the Hamptons. A large part of Sydney's job is catering to the members' needs but she starts having trouble recognizing people's faces. It's a condition commonly called face blind and puts her job in jeopardy. Judy Greer will also star as a matchmaker born with 2 hearts. When those hearts begin beating out of rhythm, she becomes Hank's client but she also decides to make Hank one of her clients. She fixes him up with a woman played by Kat Foster. Another potential romance for Dr. Hank will come through Boris' world. While Hank has seen the medical and personal aspects of Boris' life, this season he is pulled into the sociopolitical and socioeconomic worlds as well. Things get more global and intriging as Hank is slowly immersed in the mysterious Kuester von Jurgens-Ratenicz world. He also meets on of Boris' business cohorts named Dmitri who has an interesting medical condition.
One guest star who will not be back in the foreseeable future is JoAnna Garcia who played Dr. Nina Greene, the specialist who treated Hank's friend Jack. Feuerstein "can't say enough nice things about her" and hopes that Garcia's schedule will allow her to come back in the future. He ran into her recently and she complimented his wife's TV pilot. Garcia's husband is Nick Swisher of the New York Yankees. The day after they lost the World Series he came to the set and spent hours signing baseballs for all of the cast and crew.
Other guests will include recurring guest Henry Winkler who plays their father. Feuerstein is always "over the moon" when Winkler guests because he brings a smile and great warmth. He feels lucky to know someone who is such a talented man, actor, person, writer, and human being. Winkler will continue to be involved with Ms. Newberg and helps Evan grow his business. Ben Shenkman will also join a multiple episode arc as Dr. Jeremiah Sacani, a brilliant doctor with terrible people skills. The character is named after Christine Sacani who is a line producer on the show. Feuerstein was jealous because he nailed a speech with more medical jargon than has ever been on the show. "I want to get to say all those big fat words."
Speaking of medical jargon, Feuerstein says he sometimes goes over those monologues for 5 days to make sure he can say the words fluently so he sounds like he understands what they mean. He is not gifted with a photographic memory so it takes a lot of preparation. It must work because occasionally people mistake him for a real doctor. His parents have a house in the Hamptons and he was at an event for ovarian cancer research when a woman approached him. She had been stung by a wasp and started explaining her symptoms. Feuerstein got her a glass of water while her husband calmed her down, remarking that she must be genuinely delirious if she though a TV actor could actually do something to help. Feuerstein assured that if actually presented with a real emergency, he would be the first person yelling, "Is there a doctor in the house?"
Season 3 contained more emotional scenes for Feuerstein especially with the death of friend Jack O'Malley, played by Tom Cavanagh. He found it easy to show his care for the character because of his friendship with Cavanagh. To prepare as an actor for the aftermath of Jack's death, he thought about Cavanagh's 3 kids. Thinking about children growing up without their father put him into the right mindset for the scenes. He thought Jack's death was a brave move on the writers' part. For 3 years Hank had a perfect medical record but that doesn't happen in real life. Letting a main guest star die that not only Hank but also the audience was emotionally invested in added a gravitas to the profession and helped sell the authenticity of the show.
Currently Feuerstein is in production to direct another episode. He just picked a location for a bar scene and is in the process of casting a thug for that scene. He'd also like to enlist an executive from USA Network to be in the episode. He thinks it would be fun for an executive to see how things actually go on set. Feuerstein previously directed last season's My Back to the Future. He is grateful the USA Network and Royal Pains producers trust him to bring his own vision to the show and for opening the door to a possible new career. He loves how it allows him to delve into the story from multiple perspectives instead of just Hank's. While he describes acting as sometimes being stressful to the point of a heart attack, directing will officially give him a heart attack and "force me to perform open heart surgery on myself." Still he enjoys bringing more of himself to the table and having the authority to choose the images he wants to tell the story and to pick what jokes get in, etc. He loved how My Back to the Future had so much going on. He was able to incorporate a car crash, a fake funeral, and bad back shtick. His favorite was the slow motion shots of Evan putting on Dr. Van Dyke's coat before they went into a client's home. He also got to include many former guest stars in the funeral shot so that was a lot of fun.
There are many former guest stars he would love to come back, all of them in fact. He dreams of having a Hank Med anniversary party where everyone who has ever been a client would attend, although the agent logistics would be a nightmare. He would particularly like to have the Big Show from the WWE back. He originally played a client with zinc poisoning. While shooting the season premiere in Georgia, Feuerstein ran into a fan who watched that episode and noticed her father had similar symptoms. She took him to the doctor and found out she was right. Other guest stars he would like to work with again include Constance Zimmer, Jennifer Fearon, David Harbour, Callie Thorne, and several others. He also tweeted that he'd love to have Sarah Shahi from Fairly Legal join them. The medical field is so litigious that he could see her character visiting the Hamptons right as Hank Med got into legal trouble. He also did a play with Gabriel Macht from Suits and would love to work with him again. In fact, he thinks the USA Network is the perfect place for crossovers. All USA shows speak a similar language and take place in similar well-dressed settings. Ideally they could have a crossover USA movie, which Feuerstein described as The Avengers meets the USA Network. They already did crossover promos so who knows.
Don't forget to check out the season 4 premiere of Royal Pains on Wednesday, June 6 at 9/8 central on the USA Network. Oh and if you have Twitter, give @markfeuerstein a follow.
Screen caps by Starpulse, Judy Greer's Fans, and Spot on Long Island.