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Exclusive: A Conversation with Kurt Fuller (Part 1 of 2)

Kurt FullerIf you visit his Twitter page, the title reads "Coroner, Angel, Genius", but Kurt Fuller is so much more than that. I hesitate to even call this an interview. He declined to see a list of the questions I would be working from, so everything he said was completely spontaneous and unrehearsed. It was all very informal, and we both had a lot of fun. We spent half the time just chatting and laughing.

My conversation with him was literally an hour long, so I have edited it down to what I felt was a reasonable amount. I hope you all enjoy this even half as much as I did.


TVRage: Everyone I know [who watches Psych] absolutely loves Woody. At what point did you realize that [he] had become a fan favorite?

Kurt Fuller: James Roday is a friend of mine. I've known him for a long time. Maggie Lawson and I, until she moved, we lived down the street from each other. So, James called and asked if I would do an episode. I realized [Woody] was becoming a fan favorite when I got into my eighth or ninth episode in a row. I said, "Oh, I guess they like the character." Then I kept hearing about it. The writers would come up and say, "Oh my god. We get so many letters!" The last thing I did that got a lot of fan response was negative, because I played this character, named Zachariah, in Supernatural.

TVRage: I loved Zachariah!

Kurt Fuller: I loved Zachariah too! I loved doing Zachariah and when I found out I was dying, it really hurt. I loved Zachariah. I thought he was hilarious, but [Zachariah] was somebody you love to hate and Woody is somebody you love to love. The pleasure I get out of playing Woody is much greater than...I'm not [going to] say "pleasure", but it's really interesting to play Zachariah.

TVRage: In my opinion, with the exception of Lucifer, Zachariah was the most sadistic and intimidating angel on Supernatural. Zachariah comes in, points his finger, and Sam [collapses].

Kurt Fuller: I know. I loved that. He took such relish in it. Zachariah was a party. You know? He just loved what he did. That's what I liked about him, and I didn't know [how he was going to] be. I was hired to play this nice guy. I was going to play Dean's boss in some other alternate universe. I was [supposed to] be nice and helpful. I actually told my wife, "I get to play a nice guy. I play so many assholes. I get to play a nice guy." Then, in the third episode, he just turned. I think that's the episode I gave Sam stomach cancer or something. I just turned so bad so fast!

Kurt Fuller as Zachariah on SupernaturalTVRage: Right! When you think you're [going to] be playing an angel...

Kurt Fuller: Yes, that's what I was told. I was an angel! I thought that was a brilliantly written show. I've worked with a lot of actors but Dean...we had chemistry. We really hooked. I actually think they killed me off too early. They killed me off for the hundredth episode, but I think they got rid of me a little early.

TVRage: I agree. In all fairness, we don't know where angels go when they die. They've never said there's no chance of bringing them back, in fact, I'm pretty sure Cas has been brought back at least twice. It would, in theory, be possible for them to bring [Zachariah] back. If you were approached with a storyline to bring him back, would you be interested?

Kurt Fuller: In a New York minute! Yes. I would love to. I loved that character.

TVRage: So did I. Don't get me wrong; I love you as Woody. As much of a fan as I was of [Zachariah] on Supernatural, there is just something about Woody that is so lovable. This is probably going to make me sound like a bit of a fan girl. When my boyfriend and I watch the show, when we see you come out, we both go "Woody!"

Kurt Fuller: Aww, I love that! That makes me feel very good. You know, I had no idea what Woody was going to be. I showed up, and James said "Well, you can just sort of wing it. Do what you want." The writers...I have to give most of the credit to them, because they got Woody's voice. I know this: everybody loves to write for Woody - everybody - because it's instant comedy. They don't have to worry about the story or the plot. It's just instant comedy, so they write such interesting stuff. I basically just have to get out of the way and let the words go. It's an easy job that way, because the writing is so good.

TVRage: I think a lot of that is attributed to you. You have this wonderful way of being able to do [a multitude of different roles]. Whichever way you want to be, you can just turn it on and, to me, that's brilliant.

Kurt Fuller: The thing is - about being able to do different things - that's career longevity, because I haven't gotten pigeonholed into doing just one thing. That's probably why I've lasted, being able to act, as long as I have. I just try and adapt to what is written, and I just try to honor the writer. I think that the writer is everything, and I just try and honor what the writer is doing. If he's a bad guy, he's a bad guy. If he's a good guy, he's a good guy. I don't try and change everything just to fit who I am. I try to change to fit what they've written.

TVRage: There was somethingWoody: Just so you know...me and this guy...we spooned last night. I wanted to touch on, because we were talking about your comedic timing. I think it's brilliant, both with your facial expressions and your delivery. One of my favorite examples is in the Hangover-style episode, Last Night Gus (Season 6, Episode 2). After Shawn explains that the two men at the bar are gay, Woody leans in with this knowing look and tells them "Just so you know...me and this guy..." (gesturing to Lassiter) "...we spooned last night".

Kurt Fuller: I was just trying to make them feel better! You know? I mean, I understand. That show was my favorite one so far. Did you see the show Wednesday night, the Office Space one?

TVRage: Yes, when you were taken hostage!

Kurt Fuller: Andy Berman and Todd Harthan...they're such great writers, those two. That was beautifully constructed, I thought. It was really good, and I thought Dulé was brilliant there. He really was. You can't try to be funny, and timing is nothing you learn. It's just trial and error, and your gut tells you when to come in. It's a weird thing. Acting is one of those things that anybody can do because no one can learn it, but only a few people can really do because it's nothing you can learn. You're born a certain way, and if you figure out what it is that you have, and it's something that they want, and they hire you, [then] you're an actor. Those things all coming together...figuring out what you are, and being what you are, and being something somebody wants at the right time, that's the trick. [There are] a lot of great actors, who don't have agents and who've never made a dime, who are better than me. It's just the timing didn't happen. I really have learned nothing, except how to relax, because it's nothing you can teach. I just learned to relax and trust myself, and that's it.

TVRage: I'm always in awe of people who can get up there - people like you and the Psych cast - and make it seem so effortless. In the Psych Outs, [with] you guys playing around, it just seems like such a wonderful atmosphere.

Kurt Fuller: It is. It's the best job. It is, by far, and I have had hundreds of jobs. It is the best job I have ever had in my life. It's the most fun. Nothing beats it. Nothing will beat it and nothing has. It all starts with Steve and James, and it trickles down. It's sort of like honey trickling down. It's all good. They're such good people, and everybody on that show knows how lucky they are. Believe me.

TVRage: [The cast is] amazing and obviously, [with] the addition of you, it just got better. I went through a period where I didn't really watch [the Psych Outs], and then I started watching them. It gives you that little glimpse behind the scenes, [which brings me to] another question about the Psych Outs. It seems like some of the dialogue is spontaneous. Is it common to ad-lib on the set or are most of the lines scripted?

Woody Having Fun in the MorgueKurt Fuller: Well, it sort of starts with James. We usually do one that's completely scripted, and then James will go off script. If he's saying something that's off script, I have to answer him. It's not going to be with a line that was written, because he's not giving me a line that's written. So, all of a sudden, [we're] improvising. I'll do it as long as he wants. James is the one who really...he just goes off. I mean, he's unbelievable. Once he does, then we're in that land and that land is not written down. So, yeah, that does happen a lot - once a day, at least.

TVRage: In Last Night Gus (Season 6, Episode 2), at one point, Woody announces "Look, I don't care if we did kill this guy. I'm just happy to be a part of it!" With that in mind, I think it's fair to call him "morally questionable". In your opinion, is there anything he wouldn't do?

Kurt Fuller: I think Woody stands for nothing. I really do. I think Woody is game for whatever! I don't think the word "no" is in his vocabulary. Even I was surprised when I brought body bags to the hospital for Corbin. That's an insight into the character. "As long as I'm here, I may as well bring the bags in case he dies." I think the only "no" would be with James and Maggie. I would not do anything to hurt them. Dulé...eh. He gets impatient with me, but James and Maggie - they're always so patient. They're so sweet to me. I think I would never do anything to hurt them but I think that, for example, if Juliet hit on me...let's say she came in one night to the morgue and hit on me, I don't think Woody could say no. I don't think so, and Shawn would just have to understand. Shawn would get it. That's the way Woody is. You don't have to worry about that, [though,] because that would never happen. So, I think that's Woody. Woody doesn't know the word "no".

TVRage: Okay, now this is kind of a crazy idea. I'm going to open with that before I start. I would love to see a series of webisodes, running concurrently with the show, called "The Adventures of Woody the Coroner." I'm imagining something like Woody having a crazy night out at the circus. Then, in the actual show, someone asks Woody, "Hey, what's on your face?" Woody discreetly wipes some clown makeup off his jaw and mutters something about how balancing on the trapeze is much more difficult than it looks. Is there any chance of this happening?

Kurt Fuller: I don't think so, and I'll tell you why. The people who are in the webisodes are the regulars, who are under contract. I'm a recurring character, which means that those people have to do it for free. If I do it, they have to pay me. They can't afford it. Even if I said I'll do it for nothing, I couldn't do it for nothing. They actually have to pay me. There's no budget for them. So, practically, it's not going to happen. Sorry to have reality come in.Woody in His Suit

TVRage: I was excited.

Kurt Fuller: It's a good idea! If you see that, please sue for your share of the idea.

TVRage: I just think Psych needs more Woody.

Kurt Fuller: You know, it's interesting. I'm about to go do a very big episode. I'm leaving in about four or five days, where I'm the "A" story in the episode. I can't even tell you what it is. They are doing more Woody. I think they feel a little bit like either they're going to have Woody be this funny accent, or [they'll] develop the character and show more dimensions of him so he can do more things. I think they just have so many characters to serve on the show: Shawn and Gus, and Shawn and Juliet, and Tim. There are so many stories, and I came in during the third or fourth season. It's just hard to go into that depth, at that point, because they've only got forty-two minutes every week. Woody's working the way he is. A lot of people say they want more Woody, and I want to do it. I'd love to do it, but I'm sometimes not available. I went to Paris and did the Woody Allen movie, and I was doing a series. It's subject to my availability. It's hard to go in depth, because they never know how much they're going to have me.

TVRage: I understand that one of the upcoming episodes of Psych is going to be a two hour musical event?

Kurt Fuller: Yes...

TVRage: Please tell me you will be...

Kurt Fuller: Yes. Yes, I will be singing and dancing.

TVRage: YES!!

Kurt Fuller: I have seen it, and it is spectacular. Spectacular! I will say this - and I am a pretty humble guy - my song is a showstopper! It's a showstopper! It is absolutely fantastic. You will love it.

TVRage: I am so excited! Is this going to be the finale? Are you allowed to say which one it is?

Kurt Fuller: It isn't going to be the finale. I think that they are going to show it as a special after the last episode. It's going to be a two hour event. There are some…Dulé...holy moly! That guy can dance, and James and Maggie...and Tim Omundson has the voice of an angel.

TVRage: I saw another interview and Woody and LassieMaggie was saying that [Timothy Omundson] sings and dances beautifully.

Kurt Fuller: Tim Omundson - I have to say - he whispers great ideas in my ear all the time, and I take them. I don't even think about them. He'll just say "do this" [or] "look that way". I just do it, like a robot, like a trained monkey. I mean, he is so great. That's the other thing. There's no ego. If somebody comes up and has a good idea for somebody, we just all share it. We all are just trying to make the show better. It's really great.

TVRage: I love the rapport you all have with each other. I've seen you talking back and forth on Twitter. The fact that you guys take the time to talk to your fans [is really great]. You're a seasoned actor from the mid-eighties, you have one of the most easily recognizable faces in the business, you've been in over one hundred and fifty movies and/or television shows...

Kurt Fuller: Why aren't I richer? Wow. I know why. Two kids. Children.

TVRage: They do suck the money out of you. Don't they?

Kurt Fuller: Oh my god! Oh well. That's what it's for.

TVRage: Despite all of your success, you're still so personable and down-to-earth. How do you stay so grounded?

Kurt Fuller: Well, my parents were great. My father grew up during the depression. He was a self-made man, he fought in World War II, and got into business. We were just taught to treat people with dignity, and we were never made to feel like anybody was better than anybody else. That's how I feel now. I'm not curing cancer. I'm not saving lives. It's my job. I'm an actor. It's a good, fun job. People enjoy it, but there are many other people who are doing so many things that are more worthwhile. I just don't see anything that special about it. I see it as entertaining. I understand that and I'm happy to do that, but I just don't think that I'm special in any way. That's all.

TVRage: That's very humble of you.

Kurt Fuller: It's the truth. There are so many people downtown, ladling soup, and picking homeless people off the street. It's a big world, and show business is a tiny part of it. It goes everywhere, so it seems much more important than it really is. That's my feeling.

TVRage: [I read a post from this] guy, who was an extra on [The Prankster]. You were in a lunch line with him, and you gave him a brownie. He thinks that you are the greatest guy ever.

Kurt Fuller: You know what? The extras get the lousy food, and they're treated like dogs. It's terrible. They have what's called "extra's holding", like you were a cow or something. I just hate it, so I'm always sneaking food over there.

Kurt Fuller and Jessica Hendra: Love at first sight!TVRage: I kind of got off-track. I'm sorry. Oh! This is something that I thought was so sweet. I did not realize that you have been with your wife for almost two decades. I am amazed by that.

Kurt Fuller: I had a series of bad relationships, and due in no small part to my own flakiness. When I met my wife, I literally fell in love with her the day I met her. We got married three months after we met, twenty years ago. I have to tell you, I actually know what it's like to fall in love. I absolutely just fell in love. It hasn't changed a bit. I think it's stronger now than it's ever been.

TVRage: That's wonderful. Is there anything that you specifically attribute to the success of your relationship?

Kurt Fuller: Well, believe me, we have our fights and our disagreements. We have a real relationship, with ups and downs. We're both interested in what the other person has to say, and I really respect her. I respect her intelligence. I respect her opinion, and I think she's very funny. Because I respect her so much, the balance of power never gets too far in one direction. I think when one person is much more powerful than the other, relationships start to suffer from that. When I look back on it now, I think it's because we've always been equals. I didn't get married until I was forty, because I wanted to be stable when I got married. I think I just avoided my first marriage, and went right to the second. It's sort of how I see it. When you're young, just trying to make it, and trying to find your way in the world, and figure things out...being married is not easy.

TVRage: Right. People rush into it.

Kurt Fuller: Oh, yeah. I say wait. Wait. Wait. Wait until you know. Women...they hit their early thirties and they get baby fever. That's it. It's all over. My wife got baby fever at about thirty-two, and we had kids. The kids - I have to say - I think that because we were older [and] we hadn't completely grown up, it sort of worked out perfectly.

TVRage: I'm glad it did. I've seen pictures of you guys, and you look so happy together. It's really nice, especially in an industry where romance is fleeting. You have two kids, correct?

Kurt Fuller: Yes, I do. Twelve and fifteen.

TVRage: Are they fans of your work?

Kurt Fuller: Oh, yeah. In fact, they help me learn my lines. My fifteen-year-old reads all the scripts, and they both watch all the shows. They watch them online and, yeah, they love it. They come to the set. It's great. It's great to be able to share that. I think, this year, I'm going to take my fifteen-year-old up, and she's going to come with a friend. They're old enough to walk around Vancouver a little bit while I'm working, so I think we're going to do that.

TVRage: Oh that sounds nice.

Kurt Fuller: Yeah, I want them to have as many experiences as they can.
Not Santa Barbara, eh?
TVRage: Do you guys spend a lot of time up in Vancouver because of the filming?

Kurt Fuller: Yeah, it is shot in Vancouver. They have a few palm trees that they roll around and put in the background, and the ocean is there. The interiors are fantastic and they have all this other...what's called "B Roll" of Santa Barbara. I can see Vancouver when I watch it. I suppose, if I didn't think about it, I would accept that they were in Santa Barbara, but it sure rains a lot in "Santa Barbara".  It's raining a lot. There's a lot of wet streets and stuff, but they do a good job. They really do.

TVRage: I've never been to Canada, so I would never have guessed that it was [there].



UPDATED:
Part 2


Details
Person:
- Jessica Hendra
- James Roday
- Timothy Omundson
- Jensen Ackles
- Maggie Lawson
- Corbin Bernsen
- Kurt Fuller
Show:
- Psych
- Supernatural
Network:
- USA Network

Written by: Kimberly Ainsworth
May 17th, 2013, 4:32 pm

Images courtesy of USA

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