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Shakefire was recently invited to the set of "Royal Pains," one of USA's strong TV shows now entering its second season. Primarily set in the Hamptons, "Royal Pains" tells the story of Hank Lawson (Mark Feurstein), previously a New York emergency room doctor who, after getting fired from his hospital, now makes house calls to a new set of wealthy clientele in the Hamptons. We were invited to Greenpoint, Brooklyn to have round-table interviews with Andrew Lenchewski (the main writer) and Michael Rauch (executive producer), as well as the four main characters Mark Feuerstein (Hank), Paulo Costanzo (Evan), Jill Flint (Jill) and Reshma Shetty (Divya). As an added bonus, we were also invited to watch as they filmed a scene featuring Hank and Evan.

After an early breakfast at the Hilton in Times Square, we took a shuttle to Greenpoint, where the day's filming was being done in one of the primary studios used for the show. After settling in for a bit, we were then presented with the first episode of the new season, to help provide context for some of our upcoming interviews. After a little bit of time, Andrew Lenchewski and Michael Rauch came in to speak with us.

How did you end up with Henry Winkler?  What's the story behind the casting?

Michael Rauch:  It was a very interesting situation, in that we knew very early on in season one, that we wanted to bring the father in to season two since one of the themes of the first season was the absence of family.  We thought for the second season, one of the themes would be the presence of family.  Andrew and I made kind of a list of actors, which was basically every Oscar winner in the history of film.

The season ended and we started seriously talking with the casting side on the studio network of who we wanted, we put together our list, they put together their list, and Henry Winkler's name was brought up.  And we both kind of had the first response of, like, "Not an Oscar winner, but very, very intriguing." 

It took us both by surprise, but the more we thought about it, the more he felt like the tone of the show, in terms of it being a light, blue-sky show and the way that Mark Feuerstein and Paulo Costanzo play the brothers.  The father's going to be such an instrumental part of this season in terms of kind of stirring the pot.

It felt like it would be a fun way to go, for the dad to be someone who's very likeable and very loved and perhaps he leads with that and then we understand there's a little more darkness underneath.  We found out that Henry Winkler, in fact, is a very big fan of the show; watched every episode.  When Andrew and I sat down and had breakfast with him, he started telling us lines that we had forgotten about.  He was quoting moments and it just became this love fest, and by the time the coffee came, he became Eddie Lawson and it was impossible to imagine anyone else.

How many episodes is he around for? Is he a regular? 

Michael:  He is not a regular, but he's going to be around for awhile.  I mean, we're just right now writing the ninth episode and he's still very much a part of the show.  So you always want to see how the episodes got together and how he fits in, but so far, with the stuff we've shot, and we're just starting to see finished episodes, it's a seamless transition to have him be part of the family.

So what's going to happen with the little family?  Like, what can we expect to see between the three guys?

Andrew Lenchewski: Well, I think... another element of the attraction to Henry Winkler is that we wanted a guy who could really sort of feel like he was the genetic blueprint for both sons.  So we could look at Hank's behavior and say, "Oh, we finally understand where that characteristic or that quirk or that quality comes from."  And then look at Evan, and sort of have the same experience.

So it feels like we're really getting that ability to play those feelings in these episodes.  So we have the tension between the brothers with respect to how they each see Eddie.  Then we see him trying to reinsert himself into their lives.  So there's a lot of mixed feelings that obviously are brought to the surface and we're really getting all those emotions.  It's very rich territory for us.

Is the father there for redemption or does he have his own purpose?  Is he there for his own reasons?

Andrew:  That's a very good question and that's exactly the mystery that we're going to be playing through the character over the course of the season.  It may be one, it may be the other, it may be a mixture of the two; you know, things aren't always black and white in this world or in any other.  But that's part of the question that Hank has and he has a point of view, and then Evan has a different point of view and so that's what really plays to the tension between them.

How, if at all, did you tweak the show's formula, based on what you saw worked in season one and what really worked?

Michael:  I don't know if I'd say we tweaked the formula, but there definitely were things that we liked and there were things we didn't like and we tried to modulate around that.  We were very interested in the feedback from the fans and especially stuff on the internet. Getting a sense of what the audience felt worked and what they felt didn't work and kind of incorporating all that together.

So there are definitely some character shifts.  There were things we were going towards, which, you know, for instance, Jill and her husband Charlie, was something that we played towards the end of the first season.  And we felt like, you know what, we got about as much of this as we want to get out of it and we can separate them now.

So things like that where it felt like it worked to a certain extent, and now we're going to go in a different direction.

Andrew:  You know, the scarcest resource for us and the writer's room, is real estate: real estate on our whiteboards, where we write the story.  Because we're a hybrid show, where we have a procedural component, but we also have a character-driven component, and trying to find the room to tell the procedural stories with our guest stars - the A patient, the B patient of the week - and then also having time to advance the storyline with the brothers, with Hank and Jill, with having Divya, with Divya in our family... that takes up a lot of room.

One thing we found last year that actually did work and we're trying to write more towards it this year is what we call these clearing house episodes.  Like, in episode nine last year, at the horse show, it allowed us to create an intersection where we could weave all these stories through each other in one central location... bring all our characters together and use that as a way to sort of jump between storylines really easily.

Are there any other big names that we can look forward to seeing this season?

Andrew:  Well, yeah, I mean, with our premiere, we've got not just Henry, we've got Campbell Scott coming back and we've got Marcia Gay Harden, which is obviously a huge plus for us. Big Show.

Michael:  We have Big Show, yeah, we have Christine Ebersole coming back.  Andrew McCarthy will probably come back.  So  a lot of the people who we had season one, and then bringing new people in also.

Andrew:  In episode two, we have Mary Lynn Rajskub from 24, playing Chloe, which was fantastic and totally against type, as far as the way people know her from 24.  She plays Newberg`s stepdaughter in the episode and she was fantastic.

How welcoming are the locals up in the Hamptons, when you go out there?

Andrew:  They're great.  I mean, we get a lot of people that live in the area come out to be extras on the show.  It's a world that's never really been on TV before and we think we lend it a pretty positive, flattering treatment.  David Rattiner, who is the son of Dan Rattiner of Dan's Papers out there, came out to the set when we were out there last week in Bridgehampton and just told us how meaningful the show is to the community there and wanted to know if there was anything that he could do in terms of outreach or support.

So it's been really cool to be able to work in a place where we feel like our presence is not only tolerated, which is a rarity with production, but actually embraced by the people who live in that area.

Is it ever going to not be summer?

Michael:  That's a good question.  At some point, it will not be summer, yeah.  We don't know when.  I mean, we love the show in summer and we think that it was part of the success in season one, because it's just so beautiful and that landscape is so beautiful and we have two seasons this season.  We have twelve episodes in the summer and six in the winter and the thought was maybe the six in the winter would be the fall; it's something we're thinking about.  If we don't do it this year, we'll probably do it next year.

You mentioned you were surprised that Henry Winkler was such a big fan.  Are there any other celebrities that you've heard from, that either they're a fan of the show, that you're surprised by, or they want to be on the show at some point?

Andrew:  Yes, we have a huge actor crush on JB Smoove.  He plays Leon Black on Curb Your Enthusiasm, and when we heard that he wanted to be on the show, we were, like, no, we want you more.  We want you more than you want us, trust us.

Michael:  We also heard that Jay-Z and Beyonce like the show.  So of course we tried to get them on.  It hasn't worked yet, but we'd like to have them on.

Now when you are cracking the medical mysteries or strange things that happen, do you come up with the end first and then work towards that?  How do you come up with the storylines, based around medical thoughts?

Andrew:  It happens in so many different ways, just depending on the episode and depending on whether we're starting with the patient, whether we're starting with the condition, whether we're starting with the setting.  Like, Michael said, in one episode it could be that all we know is we want to have something really bad happen on a boat.  In another episode, we want to have something happen on an island.  Or we want to be able to drill into a guy's skull, because that's going to be fun to put on TV. 

So there are so many different points of entry into the story.  So we come to our advisor and we say, "Here's all we know so far, help us build on this."  And then he starts just adding medical elements and the thing takes shape.

Now that you've split away Charlie there's really no obstacle at all for Jill and Hank.  What's the plan then?

Michael:  Keep watching.  An obstacle comes in.  There's a new character who we introduce in the third episode of the season.

Male or female?

Michael:  Female... a woman, yeah.

Has she been cast yet?

Michael:  It's been cast, she's been shot, and her name is Anastasia Griffith. She comes in as a competing concierge doctor in the Hamptons, and she gets introduced in the third episode.

What do you feel helps Royal Pains stand apart from other medical dramas?

Michael:  Andrew creates a show that takes a hospital show out of the hospital.  I think was a very innovative thing and it is exactly what separates this show from other medical shows.  We do have a hospital set and we do go there, but it's so rarely and then when we're there, we're there for a page scene to a page-and-a-half scene... we're not living there.  So really, by taking it outside of hospital, it really gives us the opportunity to be in the Hamptons, to be on beaches, to being in these beautiful houses, all these kind of showcase locations that help define the show.

After the interview with Michael and Andrew, we were able to recuperate for a few minutes before the lovely Reshma Shetty, who plays Divya Katdare (Hank's Physician Assistant), enters the room for her interview.

What are your personal feelings about the potential chemistry between your character and Evan? 

Reshma Shetty:  I think the chemistry between Evan and Divya is very... it's fun to play first of all. And it's very easy to play. Do I think it's going to become something romantic? I don't think it will in the beginning. I could see it going in that direction. Right now, I think it's just the battling of "I think he's an idiot. I think he's an idiot." It's one of those relationships at this point.

But could it become something else? Absolutely! Right now, we're kind of like brother/sister. He is kind of annoying. And I think you'll see in the episodes that we've shot thus far that we've become a lot more emotionally attached, meaning that he will open up to me a lot more and I actually want to listen.  I think in the past, I really didn't. He was just the gnat that's over here going "ZZZZZZ" or something. And I've accepted it. Okay. He's here. I can't really get rid of him. He's part of whatever it is. 

I didn't answer your question at all, mostly because I don't know. But it'll be fun. 

So, does that mean we won't be seeing a wedding this season?

Reshma:  I don't know. They won't tell me! I don't know! I think that the big thing with Divya for the episodes that I've seen thus far is just this battle within her... her culture is such a big thing, you know. Pleasing her parents is such a big thing. How do we separate ourselves from them? What is she going to do? It's a battle for her. It's a real battle for her.

What's Divya's take on the boy's father - Eddy? Is she a bit charmed by him?

Reshma:  Well, first of all, he's charming regardless. Like Henry Winkler is the most—I call him lovely. He's the loveliest man I have met in ages. The first time I met him, I blushed and I tend to not blush. Well, I tend to not blush anyway because I'm brown. Purple hue is usually where I go. 

But he's lovely. And I haven't actually had a scene with him yet. So, I don't know, but I think it'll be a really interesting dynamic because she respects Hank so much that I'm interested to see how they're going to have my reaction to him. But I haven't actually had a scene yet with him, so, I don't know. 

Are there any similarities between you as a person and the character you play, and if so, what?

Reshma:  We're both Indian... I have that going for me. But, the more and more I get to know Divya, the more and more she's... I thought at first that she was kind of like me, but we have definite things that... I'm nowhere near as organized as she is. Like she is so put together and I'm not put together. 

The way she dresses, the way she acts, is just her natural way. I tend to not... I went to Paris, actually; my fiancé took me to Paris where he proposed, and I just remember sitting and watching the French women and how put-together they were. It was freezing and they were walking down the street in these beautiful skirts and high heels. 

For two days, I came back and I was inspired. And then I kind of went back to me, which was sweat pants and flip-flops. I enjoy dressing up but it's not a day-to-day thing. You'll see Divya in medical situations where I would've been like, take the heels off, get down in there, and Divya doesn't. She just knows how to be that way.

I think you're going to get to see her sense of humor. You're going to get to see how she is a bit more... I'm allowing a bit more of me to get into her, I guess. I definitely have a sense of humor that is very sharp like hers. That's the British in me I think. Also the compassion that I think you're going to start to see in her. I think she really does care about helping people.I was going to be a doctor. I was... I did pre-med in my undergrad.

Other than that, seriously, the stuff they've told me that Divya's going to become this season is very exciting. You're going to see a very different side of her, letting go, that you don't see yet. You kind of see her emotional battle with her family and the wedding stuff. But I think you're going to start to see a definite softer side of her.

You mentioned that you were going to be a doctor. What was the turning point for you when you decided to become an actress, and how does your family feel about it?

Reshma:  I think the turning point is the point that you realize that if you don't try something, you're going to regret it for the rest of your life. That was my speech to my Dad. It was quite a speech, my friends. I was a sophomore in college and I had to call my father who's a physician himself.

When I talk about being a doctor, I was hardcore. I was president of my science club. I was all that stuff in high school. Music was something that I did on the side. Acting was something that I did as a hobby and I tended to be good at. 

To tell him, it was really difficult. "Hey, Dad, you know, I want to get out of being a doctor and having a set salary, and I want to be an actor." 

That's kind of a hard thing for any culture to accept.

How do they feel about you being an actress now?

Reshma:  I think they're enjoying it at the moment. But, you know, they're parents. They want you to be financially settled. They want you to be happy.

The big thing with my parents is they want me to be happy. They don't "get" this  world. They really don't understand. Like my Dad's like, "So, what are you doing today?"

And I'm like, "Well, I'm in my trailer."

"Trailer? Okay, what's a trailer?"

You have to really describe these things to them. They haven't been to the set yet. They don't know what this is all about. But I think they're happy. I hope they're happy.

What would you say is one of the biggest challenges that you face as an actress, and how have you overcome that?

Reshma:  With me it's diversity. With me it's actually getting the opportunities to get certain roles. It's changing a lot. It's getting so much better to be an Indian-American-British actress. But that, I think, is the biggest challenge, for someone to give you a role that is kind of out of the box.

You said what aspects you were playing into Divya, but what do you take from her?

Reshma:  Ooh! Try to dress better. She is great accessorizing and I'm learning how to accessorize a bit better... not today because I'm about to go to work. So, all the stuff is off, but accessorizing, I think. And also being calm. She's so put together. It's kind of annoying at times. But I guess I'm learning that.

So, because of your pre-med background, do you find doing a scene with medical jargon easier?

Reshma:  Huh! No. No. That was a long time ago. I've been asked before about the medical jargon and is it easy to say. It's not easy to say and it's not easy to put across as easy to say. But I was surrounded with that growing up with my Dad's books and stuff. 

Actually, yesterday, they were doing some shot and there was a burn or something. I was looking at it and most people were like, "Ew," but I was used to looking at my Dad's books and seeing all these gross things and liking the stories.

In pre-med, I did a program where we actually went into surgeries and followed the doctors in there and I remember seeing a hip replacement. It's really gross. But it's fascinating, you know. 

I cannot watch slasher movies like Nightmare on Elm Street—I completely avoided it in my childhood. I can't deal with that, but I can deal with like watching real-life surgeries. It's very strange.

Since you're based here in New York for the show, do you plan on possibly pursuing any theater up here?

Reshma:  Oh, I do. I do. I mean right before the show, I did—I was doing an Off-Broadway play called Rafta Rafta. Absolutely! I mean that's the reason that I've stuck in New York. I really like the idea of being able to do something theater-wise. 

But, I mean LA's a thought; I've thought about going out there, actually, after the season to see. I've never tried LA. So, I don't know. I'll see. I think it's a different animal.

Do you have a dream musical that you want to do?

Reshma:  A dream musical? I would love to do Les Mis. I auditioned for that, but the problem was that they always wanted me in for Fantine and my voice isn't low enough to do Fantine. So, I'd be like [she imitates singing]. It was not a very good mix for me. I'd love to do Cosette but Cosette's like 16 and I don't look 16 anymore. I can't lie about that. 

Speaking of the accessories and dressing for the show, what's become the quintessential Hampton wardrobe?

Reshma:  White pants. Oh, my gosh, I am in so many white pants and it's so distressing because however svelte or in shape you think you are, white pants hide nothing. So, I feel like that is Divya's major color though. I'm in major color this year. 

Caroline, who is our costume designer, is amazing. Her stuff is amazing. It's just the white pants are a nightmare.

What's your secret to keeping them clean, making them look good on your body?

Reshma:  What is the secret? I don't think I found that secret yet. 

Keeping them clean or making your body look good?

Reshma:  Well, keeping them clean, I just keep out of the way of people and keep that duffle coat on. So, it touches nothing. Looking fabulous in them, I'm on the road, I try everyday. Every day's a new day with the white pants. But we're doing okay right now, you know.

Where would you like to see Divya go from here in character development-wise?

Reshma:  I think it's where it's going. It's that she's not just this overly put together really smart girl. It's that there's a huge dimension to her that is her battle of becoming who she is. I think that's why she gets along with Hank so well. Hank never judges her. Hank is okay with her being whatever she wants to be. And I think that's the first person she's ever really met that is really okay with her wanting to be a PA, wanting to be a medical person. That's where it's going, that you're going to see different sides of her and her relationship.

I think her stuff with Evan is going to grow and become funnier and—I mean there's some really funny things that are going to be happening that you're going to be seeing. Jill and her actually becoming new friends. We have actual scenes this year together that we're bonding and learning about each other.

The interview then ended with Reshma and we left the comforts of our interview room to grab a quick lunch before resuming the interviews. The catering was pretty excellent and an interesting note is that the cast apparently eats in the same place as everyone else, so we saw them coming by to grab their food as well. After chowing down, we then resumed our interviews with Mr. Mark Feuerstein himself.

So, how have your medical skills that you've learned on the show come in handy? When have you had to use them in the past, or have you?

Mark Feuerstein:  You mean, in life?

Yeah. Have you learned with them?

Mark:  I want to assure all of you that I have never used anything I've done in the show in life. And that's a good thing because if I were, that person would surely die. You know, it's great to be able to learn about the kind of medical procedures that happen in impromptu emergency situations, and I love knowing what I know and my way around an EpiPen or a laryngoscope, but there's a reason it takes twelve years to become a Fellow or a Resident and then a doctor, because those are the people who should be really here. I dread the day when someone comes up to me and, you know, "Doctor?" "Not me!"

Have you prepared for the role with all the medical terms? Do you study up?

Mark:  Yeah, I definitely try to learn, I mean, I learn every term that I have to speak, and I learn about every condition that we treat, and I learn about every procedure that I have to perform to the extent that I can perform it credibly. But beyond that, you know, I don't have enough time to truly understand the physiognomy of every aspect of every condition that I'm treating. I wish I did. I know that for every character that suffers there are thousands and hundreds of thousands of people who have suffered those conditions and that to those people it's very serious. So, of course, we take it seriously on the show, but I just don't have time to go to medical school right now. But hopefully in ten years when the show is all done, there's always a chance.

The producers were saying that they like to get input from fans, whether it be on the Internet or elsewhere. What are some of the things that you do in terms of what you take from the fans? Do you read any TV blogs or just go through your fan mail or anything like that?

Mark:  You know, I don't. I stay clear of that. I've only heard of bad experiences when actors go onto their websites and look for comments, because you can read 100 glowing comments; you read one that says, "Is he still around?" or "Hasn't he killed enough shows?" or whatever. It's hard. It's been hard. You know you'll never want to read another thing that's ever written. I don't read any of that, and frankly, I don't know how it would impact what I do in my job every day. I'm not doing it to get a note from an audience member. I do it from within and tell the story that I want to tell about Hank, given the words that I get to tell it. It's nice that they're out there and that they watch our show and have something to say.

So, have you ever Googled your name?

Mark:  My mother takes care of that. My mother learned about Google Alert and she's all over it, and she only contacts me about the ones that I think she's excited about. She found out recently, "Mark, I heard you're going to be hosting Raw." I was like, "That's right, ma." "Well, why didn't you tell me?" Yeah, so it's great because I can get guilt as well.

Are you looking forward to hosting? Are you excited?

Mark:  Oh, my god, I'm so excited. I am so excited. I don't know if anybody mentioned that I did a movie with Paul, Big Show, White, but I did five months ago in New Orleans, and I love this guy.  Something about our show has attracted good people and fun people who are not stuck up or pretentious or have attitude or difficult, just good people to work with. I loved the Big Show. We did this movie together that I think is really cute and fun. It's called Knuckleheads. It's produced by the WWE. And I turned to an executive at USA, Michael Sluchan, at the beginning of Season 2 party in LA, and I said, "I worked with Paul, Big Show, and he'd be great if he was on the show." And he said, it was like, "Yeah, perfect synergy. Hey, let's bring everything together." And so, bam, the writers wrote an episode for him.  And anyway, to promote that episode and him being on our show and to help sort of, I don't know, publicize our movie together, I'm going to be on Raw June 14th or something like that.

I was a wrestler in high school. I was in New York private school, underline private school, not nearly as tough as the public schools state champ of New York, so I'm very excited to be doing something with wrestling even though it's completely different… we didn't jump off the turnbuckle in high school. I love it, and so I'm very excited. Big Show has been telling me some ideas, like the bad guys will all start like, coming upon me, and he'll step out of either the bathroom or backstage, protect me, and then I'll be like, "Yeah, what you got now fellows?: See, I got the Big Show in front of me.  "How do you like me now?" So, I'm very excited for that.

What are you looking forward to in the development with Evan and Hank considering their father's return?

Mark:  A very good psychological question. Someone's a lover of Chekhov and Gibson over here. I love it. I love whatever will come of the addition of our father because it just peels back that many more layers of who we are as brothers, as individuals. It turns out Evan is the more optimistic, possibly more deluded younger brother who has this heroic image of his dad, and I'm more the realist, the one who got to see the world first, the older brother, and I'm constantly trying to point out to him that this guy left us, abandoned us, and get with it. He's full of it, and you know, I'm trying to protect him from the realities of that harsh world from which he's so deluded. 

And yet there's an argument to be made that people deserve a second chance and our dad seems to be trying. And I relate to it on a very primal level because I have an older brother, so I am sort of, I'm sort of a composite of the two characters in my own relationship to my brother, but it hits me where I live. I just think the way in which my brother, my real brother, and I interact with our father is so revealing about who we are and that, you know, if anything, a father figure is much more than that, but is a foil for all the nuances and psychoses and vulnerabilities of two brothers.

What aspects of your character do you put into yourself, and what aspects of yourself do you put into your character?

Mark:  You know, Stanislavsky said, "Put a little of your art into your life and a little bit of your life into your art," and that happens so much. I mean, it's very hard to even answer where sometimes a Hank thing would begin and a Mark thing would end. I mean, on TV you have no time to create… in certain TV shows, there are great actors who have created wonderful characters very far from themselves, but I think on the whole, for the most part, 80 percent of television characters are somewhat close to the person playing them because there's no time to search and stretch too much. When we're bringing a character into your home we sort of want—ah, I'm not going to philosophize acting on television. But I think often enough characters are pretty similar.

I've met all of the Friends, and they're all very similar to who they were on Friends. So, there's a lot of enmeshment between Hank and Mark, and you know Hank is a good guy. I try to be a good guy in my life. Hank has things that drive him crazy about his brother and his father and people in his life. I, too, have those things, and there will be moments on set where Paulo and I will drive each other just slightly nuts with a line thing or a one-upping type of thing. You'd be hard pressed to find out from the script who actually will end up having the last line of a scene. Those things are real as actors, as Paulo and Mark and as Hank and Evan. I think if that line ever gets too clear, we're more in trouble than the blurry way that it is now on the show.

What's the best perk in playing a doctor on TV?

Mark:  The best perk of playing a doctor on TV? To give you a very sincere and not so funny answer, I recently got to do a PSA about taking care of your heart, and I think that's a great thing - to be able to represent an important message on television. Actually, if that in any way has any impact on people taking better care of themselves, that's a great perk. I have some personal experience recently with illness and heart conditions and whatnot, so for me it's that much more satisfying to get to do some good and play a character who's sort of noble. I mean, I think doctors and nurses are among the best of our vocations and people in the world, for what they do. They should be the ones on TV. They should be the ones on the covers of magazines. A: I'm honored to get to play one and B: if I can in any way shed some respect and honor onto them, that's a great perk too.

How satisfying is it for you to be a New Yorker doing a show in New York?

Mark:  I'm thrilled. Are you kidding? It's like, you know, the hero returning from battle. I have been in LA for twelve years. I've had my good experiences and my not-so-good experiences on TV shows, and I get to come back to my hometown, New York City, where I was born and raised, and there are defaced posters of me all over. I love it.

Reshma had said before that she really enjoyed Hank's relationship with Divya because he never judges her. What purpose do you think she serves for him?

Mark:  I think she's sort of the sage of our little family and HankMed. She always spouts such wise things either off the cuff or well-considered. And yeah, Hank doesn't judge her because he sees that she is trying to be true to herself, but she has all these encumbrances of… I mean, from the get go with Divya, we met her and she was lying about the fact that she had a family here, and she was just not revealing what was going on in her life. Similarly, at the end of Season 1, she's sort of talking about this engagement that she wants to get out of, and then there she is going through with it. They call Royal Pains an aspirational show, and maybe one of the aspects of that is that every character is trying to find themselves in trying to aspire to some better life. They're also trying to figure out who the hell they are. So, Divya is a perfect sort of colleague for Hank to have because they're both finding out who they are together and helping each other figure it out along the way, with good advice and support and love.

Is she a colleague or more a family unit?

Mark:  More of a family. Yeah. To speak about the family thing, I mean, I'm sure the producers mentioned the story of Paulo auditioning and it was, at the time, Evan Waxman, Hank's best friend, not Evan Lawson. I don't know if you knew that story. When Paulo and the four other guys who tested for the role of Evan came in it was called Evan Waxman. When Paulo came in and read and those two schnozzes were going head-to-head, it was clear to everyone in the room that we were not going to be best friends anymore, we were going to be brothers. It's just crazy when you think about such a little change in the background of the character, and that is the entire scope of the second season of our show, predicated on family. That would never have been the case if Paulo had never come in to read for that role. So, the beauty of our show is that just as the HankMed gang and Hank, Evan, Divya, Jill, just as everyone is improvising their way through this Hamptons world, so too have the writers and the actors all been figuring it out as we go. I mean, luckily we're not Lost where you better have some idea of what this all means because we're not like locked into any final scenario, and therefore we get to kind of figure it out as we go, and that's a great thing.

When you first read the script, what is it that stood out that told you that you wanted to be Hank?

Mark:  You know, there's this stage direction in the pilot script. It says, "Hank Lawson will make an entire generation of kids want to go to medical school." It was such a ballsy kind of stage direction by Andrew Lenchewski, who wrote the pilot, but it was just that side of ballsy that made you desperate to have that part, because who doesn't want to play a part that would inspire an entire generation of kids to go to medical school? A guy who has his heart in the right place and who gets to have the dimension comedically, dramatically and medically, to save lives and do good and have a full romantic life. I mean, I'm the luckiest kid in town to get to play this part, and hopefully the part is even half as inspiring as Andrew intended it to be with that stage direction, to all those kids out there. But you know, I do believe that doctors are just in a different class of people: nurses and doctors and people who devote their lives to helping people in need physically, and so that stage direction and the part as a whole, I'm just privileged to get to play. Really. 

That was a pretty energetic interview; Mark was pretty charismatic. We were then once again left to our devices until the next victim entered the room, Jill Flint, who plays Jill Casey.

Do you want Jill back with Hank?

Jill Flint:  Do I want Jill back with Hank?  Not yet.  Not yet.  There's so much to explore outside of it.  Although I think that there's a potential for a great relationship there, I feel that right now considering that I just broke up with my ex-husband, finally, and he just got out of an engagement, maybe now's not the time, but it could be fun working with the tension between them.

We hear you're getting competition.

Jill:  I know.  It's so exciting.  I love, love, love the fact that everyone has a nemesis.  I think it's so much fun to play those things.  I fortunately am working with Marcia Gay Harden right now, and she's the big, bad, deliciously evil head surgeon at the hospital, and it's an absolute pleasure to have that push and pull.  Tons of fun.

We had spoken with Andrew when he was here, and we were talking about that relationship, and how it was a rivalry and a student-teacher relationship.  How did you feel about that with Marcia, that you looked up to her, kind of?

Jill:  Well, you know what's funny?  I look up to her as an actress.  I mean, are you kidding?  She's an Oscar winner, Tony winner.  So it's an easy thing to play.  And I like that idea.  Jill Casey, I feel, is sort of young in her position.  You don't really see a lot of hospital administrators in their 30s.  And she plays this doctor, this head surgeon, who ultimately runs the hospital in her own way.  She's top of the game in what she does.

So yeah, there's this admiration of her.  I look to her as an example of what I could be or should be and want to be.  So when she sort of turns around against me, it's a little heartbreaking, but at the same time, I'm not ready to give up my position or back down because I do ultimately believe that I'm doing the right thing.

To explain that further, she comes after me because she thinks that there are problems in the hospital that have been created by my own irresponsibility.  That's her point of view.  But it's not—it's me just doing my job.  She's just not happy with what I'm doing.

Can you talk about the character we saw last season versus the Jill we're going to see this season? She seems more headstrong, more determined.

Jill:  Yeah.  I mean, she's back on track now.  You see her now really trying to get the clinic up.  There's also a little bit more of an ease with her, more of a sense of humor, which is great.  They're trusting me with a little bit more comedy, which I'm very happy about.  But yeah, she's definitely more focused.  She wants to clean up her life.  She wants to tie up the loose strings.  She's finally moving forward from her divorce, her breakup with her ex, and she just wants to make some headway.

It's exciting to see.  I'd like to see the clinic open and see where that goes.  And like I said, we're not necessarily jumping into a relationship with Hank yet, so you're going to see more of a friendship between her and Divya spark, which is great.

But yeah, there's more of a sense of she knows what she wants and she knows where she's going.  Last year, there was a lot of, "I don't know.  Perfect man.  Ex-husband.  What do you do?"  So.  I hope that answers your question.

Jill and Hank have a developed relationship.  Do you want to see her develop a relationship with the other characters in the show, like Evan and Divya?

Jill:  Yeah, I do.  Like I said, they are starting to explore more of a friendship between her and Divya's character, and I think it's great because Jill and Divya are so very different.  I think they could be great partners in crime.  It could be fun.  Also, it's great because then I get to work with them more.  Who doesn't want to work with these guys?  They're great.  They're a lot of fun.

What about Evan?  How do you think Jill would respond to the goofy younger brother?

Jill:  Brother-sister relationship, for sure.  Because I kind of see Jill as the type of person that when she's outside of work, she's a jeans and T-shirt kind of girl.  She'd have a few beers with friends.  Maybe watch a football game.  Shoot a game of pool.  Hang out.  I wouldn't take Evan's character, him, Evan, too seriously.  He's hilarious.  He's the goofy little brother, as he should be treated.  It's fun.

Which one of your character's traits are you best able to relate to?

Jill:  Well, five, six years ago, I could relate to the disaster with personal relationships, but that was, you know, before him <points to her engagement ring>.  I would relate to her determination to get it done.  Determination to get it done, to do things right.  I also most definitely relate to the fact that she's a small-town girl.  I grew up in a one-stoplight town.  I'm a local.  I have severe localism.  Very protective of my one-stoplight town.

And the fact that she relates to just normal, average people, everyday people.  She's not impressed with glitz, glamour and all that stuff.  I could definitely relate to that because I hide from it.  I really do.

With the summer coming and the show about summer, what are some of the things you like to do?

Jill:  Me?  I love picnics.  And hiking and wine and cheese in the park.  Definitely, I like to get out of the city as much as possible.  My family's upstate, so I like to go out and go hiking and mountain biking when I can.

Do you enjoy shooting in New York?

Jill:  I love it.  It's heaven.  I'm a New Yorker.  Hard-core New Yorker.  So the fact that I get to work here… my whole life is here, and then we get to go out to the beach, are you kidding?  It's awesome.  I scored the sweet job.  I'm not going to lie.  I'm pretty proud of it.

When you go to the beach, it's cold.

Jill:  Yeah.  Oh gosh, last year, oh.  It was insane.  The first few months of shooting, we had all of these romantic scenes.  It would not be a romantic scene between Hank and Jill unless we were on the beach, freezing.  So the two of us were like shiver, shiver, shiver, action, romance.  Okay, freeze, freeze, freeze, shivering.  It was pretty intense.

But this year, we've been pretty fortunate with the good weather.

What's it like shooting all those romantic scenes with Mark?  I think he pretty much charmed everyone here.

Jill:  We are complete goofballs when we're together.  Spazzes.  So there's a lot of horsing around.  A lot of jokes.  Yeah.  It gets weird.  But he's great.  He's so much fun to work with.  I know I think all of us are kind of gushing over our co-stars.  I really love who I work with.  I really do.

Andrew had mentioned that you and Reshma met the people that Evan was based off of.

Jill:  Let me just tell you first of all that Evan is a thousand times more charming and likeable.  This guy isn't even charming or likeable.  It was Andrew's birthday.  I'll tell the story, it was Andrew's birthday, and I was talking with Caroline, who does wardrobe, and Reshma was standing next to me, and she was talking with her sister.  Andrew was sort of facing the other way.  

This guy literally jumped in between Andrew and Reshma, sort of pushed Reshma, so she's kind of like, "What is going on?"  And he looks at me and he goes, "Hey, I'm so-and-so."  I don't even remember his name.  I did not file that away.  Like, in one ear, out the other.  I looked at him like, "Yeah?"  And he responds back like, "Oh, you don't know who I am?"  Not a clue, buddy.  I have no idea who you are.  "I'm the guy that Evan is based off of."  And I'm like, "Oh.  Oh, boy! You’re special.”

I talked to him for three minutes, and I literally said, "I have to go.  I don't know where.  But I've got to go."  And I ran.  To the bar, actually.  Yeah, that was my experience with the other Evan.  Paulo does such a great job with Evan.  He's so charming.  In person, Paulo is incredibly charming, so what he does with Evan is great.  Really great.  Yeah, nothing like.  I'm like really, that was the inspiration?  Hmm.  That's the inspiration.  Okay…

So what are you hoping that will happen for Jill this season?

Jill:  I really want to see that clinic happen.  I really do.  I think that it's just a strong move.  And like I said, I'm not in a hurry to get back together with Hank.  It's like when you meet the right guy who is just wonderful, you don't want to screw it up.  So if it takes time, it takes time.  I think there's a lot of fun that they could—with other characters, other women, maybe, other men, who knows.  Some jealousy.  Jealousy's fun.

Have you shot anything with Henry Winkler?

Jill:  Yes, briefly.  Okay, he's wonderful.  Holy cow.  He's so charming and funny.

Did you used to watch Happy Days?  Did you get a little starstruck?

Jill:  I did watch Happy Days, but I also watched Arrested Development religiously.  I can recite every episode.  It's kind of weird.  Yeah, he's great.  That's the first thing I said to him.  Which I am completely flattered that when I met him, he came up to me and said, "I've watched every single episode.  I'm a fan of the show.  I absolutely love it.  I'm so happy to be here."  I was like, "Are you kidding me?  Arrested Development.  I can recite it all."  That was our little bonding moment.  You know, he's not just the Fonz.  He's done so much in his career.  But everybody wants to "Aye..." with him, but he's not just the Fonz.  There's so much behind Henry Winkler.  There's so much that that man has done that's worth noticing. 

You said earlier where you wanted the show to go and what direction, but if there was one aspect of Jill that you could really develop on, what would that be, to show the audience?

Jill:  Definitely her strength.  For sure.  I felt like last year, with the relationship with Hank, there was a lot of back and forth.  I'd like to see her have a little bit more conviction about her choices and what she wants for herself as a woman in her career, in her relationships.  She's good at her job, but she's a terrible disaster when it comes to personal relationships, so it would be nice to see a little bit more sureness about her. 


At this point, the group of bloggers were then escorted to the sweltering heat of the "Hamptons" where a scene with Hank and Evan was being filmed. The set was pretty interesting to see and we were actually able to observe for a good amount of time. Paulo Costanzo even provided us some relief in the form of miniature water bottles to help bottle the insane heat of the studio (the air conditioners were not doing a very good job of battling the lights and filming equipment).

After watching the filming, we retired back to our interview room to await the arrival of Paulo Costanzo. Did you know that he played Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill in the Nickelodean TV series of Animorphs?

Evan and Divya.  Should it happen?  Should they become a couple?

Paulo Costanzo:  I don't know.  Jesus, really, that's the starting point?  I honestly don't know.  I know that we love working with each other.  It's kind of settled into a friendly place right now.  I can't speak for the writers because we don't know what the hell's happening until basically the week before.  They don't give us the script until the week before.  But once Mulder and Scully got together, that show sucked.  If we're going to get together, I want it to be the last episode of the whole series.  But I honestly don't know.

With the father coming back, the relationship between Hank and Evan has changed somewhat.  How do you feel about it?

Paulo:  It's kind of unlocked a different side of their relationship.  It's much more honest.  I don't know, the way that I see it is when they were back in Manhattan and he was a doctor and Evan was God-knows-what, being a quote-unquote “accountant” or hustling or whatever he was doing - not hustling on the street for sex, hustling for money and things like that - but for the first season, I think they were kind of really getting to know each other, because they hadn't lived together for a long time, and they had grown very much apart.  They're very different people.  The father arriving in the first episodes of this season…  I think that's been broken and they're genuinely brothers again.  Which has been so much fun to play with as an actor, and it's a pleasure because Mark and I are having way more fun on the set because there's not as much rivalry.  It's much more just kind of two brothers.  More love, too, and more depth.

What about Evan's insecurity about his brother maybe being his dad's favorite?

Paulo:  Yeah, that's part of it.  We haven't touched on that yet, but that exists, for sure.

What has it been like working with Henry Winkler?

Paulo:  Well, other than the fact that sometimes his wings will burst out of the back of his blazer and hit you in the face, and then he starts cursing them and tries to cut them off and they just grow back, it's wonderful.  He's maybe the nicest person I've ever known.  People don't know it, but aside from working in TV - obviously everyone knows that - but he's written, like, 25 children's books, which I was surprised to learn about, and I've been reading them and they're hilarious. 

He takes pictures on set.  He takes his camera on set.  So he's taken pictures of everything, which if some people did that, I'd be annoyed, but somehow, because it's him, he can take as many pictures as he wants.  He could stab me, and in my mind, I would justify it.  I would think, "He's doing this for a reason."  He's great.  He's so great.

So going to Season 2 now, what continues to challenge you about your role or your character?

Paulo:  I don't know.  Season 2, there were less challenges because first season, the writers put together an outline of the show, and they'd say, "This is the doctor character, this is the funny accountant brother character," or in this case, it was the best friend that got rewritten when I auditioned because we looked like the same person.

First season, those parameters are kind of being pushed a little bit, but at the end of the day, he's the doctor, I'm the brother—second season, everyone just relaxes a little more, and every character becomes more just that character, more of a human.  So I feel so much more relaxed, and I'm being given so many more layers and levels to play by the writers, so it's less of a challenge.  It's more of a pleasure.

Were you happy that it was rewritten from a friend to a brother?

Paulo:  Well, I pretty much knew going in that I was not going to get the part unless they did that.  Because you can't look at us and have us be coincidentally best friends.  People ask us if we're real brothers all the time.  I was ecstatic that it happened.  And surprised.  Flattered as well.  Yeah.  That's the end of that.

How do you hope that Evan develops over the show?

Paulo:  To be honest with you, the first season I kind of had a lot of those feelings.  I've surrendered all that.  I don't have any hope anymore.  I don't know.  I trust the writers.  I just kind of wait.  If I start having hopes, then that's just a setup for disappointment.  I'm just kind of waiting to see, and I feel like I'm watching the show—as I read the scripts, it's like I'm watching the show myself.

How has playing this character impacted your life and who you are?

Paulo:  That's a good one.  I don't know.  It's funny, some of my friends last year told me that I was getting slightly annoying to be with at times.  Not all the time, but especially after work I would get flack.  Sometimes.  And I was like, "Huh."  I tend to bring work home with me sometimes.  I can already feel that this second season's so different for everyone.  I did a lot through the hiatus.  I did a movie in the hiatus, which was a whole different beast than the show, and I feel like I grew a lot as a person.  So this season is much more fun for me.  I feel like Evan is actually cooler, less annoying, deeper, and I think funnier because he's not pushing for laughs as much, if that makes any sense.

Do you feel the character's growing up?

Paulo:  He's very, very different this year.  The father coming back and this real conflict at the end of Season 1 forced him to reevaluate, like many people, when you hit rock bottom.  And then you change and hopefully you grow into a better person.  It's like he grew up.  It's like he grew up ten years in about a half hour of television.

Do you think he'll stay this grounded, or do you think he's going to revert back to first season ways?

Paulo:  Going backwards is not something usually good for television.  Another word for that is "cancelled."  

Do you want to talk about the movie that you did?

Paulo:  Sure.  It's an independent movie called "A Beginner's Guide to Endings."  It stars Harvey Keitel, JK Simons and Scott Caan, as well as a guy named Jason Jones who is one of the news correspondents on The Daily Show, who's awesome.  It's kind of a dark comedy about three brothers who learn that their father, Harvey Keitel, had been basically giving them trial medication when they were young.  Now information has been brought to their attention that lets them know that they're going to die any day.  So the three of them have to decide what they're going to do with their last days.

Shot in Niagara Falls.  Really fun.  Worked with some great people, obviously.  And a whole different flavor than Royal Pains…  And I sucked in it.

Will you continue to do movies, do you think?

Paulo:  Yeah, as much as I can.  Yeah, for sure.  That's kind of my first love.  TV's so ******* cool, though.  Forgive me, USA doesn't even know what that word means.  What is this strange word?  Bleep out the ****, or not, whatever you want to do.  But yes, movies are kind of my first love.  TV is kind of my second love, but it's now competing.  The lifestyle of doing a TV show is so cool and consistent.

The difference between movies and TV for me, for an actor, is that with movies, it's really, really hyperintense.  You know where the character begins and ends, and you can spend time mapping out where he's going and what he's doing.  You can prepare that.  That's a really interesting and amazing process, and it allows you to really fine-tune everything because you have the time to prepare it.  

Whereas TV, you don't have any idea where the character is going.  You just have to kind of rely on your instincts, and you're shooting so many episodes a day—or scenes a day that you just really have to just suddenly relax and rely on your instincts, because otherwise, you're going to get bogged down.

But the beauty of TV is that it goes on for a long time and you can develop a character over a long period of time.  There's something to be said about that amazing intensity of doing a movie or a play, though, that frankly, I lust after, and which is great that I got to do a movie, and will continue to do movies.  My name is Paulo Costanzo.  It's been a pleasure.   

That was our on-site visit with the cast and crew of Royal Pains. Be sure to check out the show on USA on Thursdays at 10pm EST.

Interview by Christopher Luu