CASTLE'S SEAMUS DEVER TALKS TV NUPTIALS
By Jennifer Buonantony
This Monday night Detective Kevin Ryan (Seamus Dever) will tie the knot with his longtime girlfriend Jenny O'Malley (Dever's real life-wife, actress Julianna Dever). Fans of the hit detective series, Castle, on ABC have long been looking forward to what is sure to be a funny, yet romantic episode filled with none other than crime-fighting!
If you're not already a fan of this quirky take on the NYPD, now in its fourth season, you sure need to catch up! The show stars Nathon Fillion as Richard Castle, a best-selling mystery writer who originally joins forces with New York's finest when a copy-cat murderer begins mimicking his books. While shadowing the police force, Castle becomes taken with Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic), who he decides to make his muse for his next book series 'Nikki Heat'. While Beckett is initially unamused by having Castle join the team, an unlikely friendship (and possible romance) develops and Castle proves to be rather useful in solving cases. Detectives Kevin Ryan (Seamus Dever) and Javier Esposito (Jon Huertas) round out Beckett's team, helping to solve murders and often bailing Castle and Beckett out of some serious trouble. We sat down with Seamus Dever to find out what the rest of Season 4 has in store.
Q: One thing fans love about Castle is the banter and camaraderie between the characters on the show. Tell me a bit about this.
A: We are a lot like that in real life- playing off each other, giving each other a hard time, making fun of each other. It's a very classic 'locker room' mentality... or maybe junior high, but we have fun. We know each other pretty well now going into our fourth season so it is easier for us to joke around. We make each other laugh and enjoy each other's personalities which is good because we often put in really long hours filming. It doesn't make it seem so long! Plus, we are all real friends and the cast has grown into a family. We spend time together outside of work, we hang out, and we genuinely like each other. It's really nice that after four seasons we still feel that way and are doing that.
Q: In next week’s episode your character is marrying his long-time girlfriend, Jenny, portrayed by your real life wife Juliana. What will that be like for your character and for the two of you as an actual married couple?
A: First of all, it was really fun to film. It's always neat to have Julianna on the show and I think it’s a pretty unique thing. Someone asked me earlier if this was the first time where this has happened, a real life couple getting married on TV. It’s very Meta and our show has always been very Meta. If you look at our show, we have the Richard Castle books and they're these NY Times Best Sellers and all of a sudden we are referencing them on the show. Then, we are making the books into a movie on our show- a movie based on a book that was originally written on our show by our show writer (laughs). It gets very blurry the distinction between real life and fantasy and that applies to our story-lines as well which often compare to current real life circumstances. I think it’s neat because we allow for that to happen on our show. We had a lot of fun filming the wedding episode and I'm excited for it to air on Monday. David Grae is the writer of this episode and he has written some of the funniest episodes on our show. He is always giving actors something great to do because he used to be an actor himself. He writes a lot of great behavioral stuff that we can play. Also, the director of this episode, Jeff Bleckner is a real actor's director. He has directed lots of theater and really knows how to communicate with actors. The two of them, Grae and Bleckner, worked together last year on one of my favorite episodes called 'Nikki Heat'. It was the episode that featured actress Laura Prepon as a guest and it was one of the funniest episodes we ever did. So it was nice to have that team back together. It will be a very funny episode but also very romantic at the same time. I think our fans will really enjoy it.
Q: You mention enjoying having that specific writer-director team for this episode. Many fans don't realize that in TV, unlike with a film, there are often different directors and writers for each episode. What is that like adjusting to new leaders each week as a series cast member?
A: At the beginning of our show, our executive producer, Rob Bowman, who is basically our main director, went on this big search. He was trying to put together a core group of directors for our show. It's taken him three solid years of trying to find who fits and understands our show best and I think he's done a great job of finally having about six or seven directors that rotate. So over time, it's become less and less fresh faces and more directors you know. It's important to have a core team because you begin to build specific relationships with each director. As an actor, you know how that person directs, what performance they are looking for, and what kind of questions you can ask. It's nice to have a fresh face once in a while but it's also nice to have less mystery. It creates a real short hand on set and keeps the characters consistent. It often saves time when filming.
Q: Where do you see the rest of this season taking the cast? It seems Beckett and Castle's relationship has been circling closer to romance each episode, what do you think will happen?
A: I don’t actually know but yes, I do think something is going to happen. It's just speculation because I don't have any information beyond episode fifteen- the end of this season. But I think we've been circling the airport long enough that an airplane is bound to come in for a landing at some point. I feel like it's something you can't dance around for forever and our characters will all have do deal with it accordingly and see how it changes or doesn't change the dynamic of the precinct. I have always been in the category of a ‘shipper’ of Castle and Beckett's relationship- that they get together and that we are all forced to just figure it out. I hope something happens but they will never live happily ever after. Anyone who thinks that is kidding themselves! Two people with as strong of personalities as they have could never be completely happy for forever, but there could be some fun new ways that the show could go if we explore that storyline. So, I'm not afraid of it and I hope it does happen.
Q: What about Lanie and Esposito's relationship? Now that your character is married, do you think we will see a bigger focus on Detective Esposito's personal life?
A: There are times, already, where I don't even appear in the crime scene so that they can focus on the relationship between Lanie and Esposito, which at the moment, is mostly them giving each other these withering looks. There was a fun episode this season called 'Cuffed' with a live tiger where they really used that relationship to help build the tension. It was fun because we needed to get this fingerprint off a corpse in time to save Beckett and Castle from being eaten alive and only Lanie could get it, but she was taking her time because of a rift with Esposito. So they are fighting and there is this dynamic where I became kind of like a kindergarten teacher thinking, 'You shut up and you shut up and give me what I need'. I think it’s a fun relationship, and I know fans haven’t given up on them working out... so I think yes, we will see more of where this goes by the end of the season. But again, I don't actually know, it's just my speculation.
Q: Are there any memories from on set or any particular episodes that stand out in your mind?
A: The episode 'Kick the Ballistics' this season was very serious but also one of my favorite episodes because I used to do nothing but drama as an actor, so it was nice to get back to my roots. But, of course, the comedic ones are fun too like the 'Nikki Heat' episode I mentioned. On of my favorites was 'Double Down' from Season 2. We did an episode with a mummy that was fun to shoot and I love the really dark episodes too like 'Sucker Punch', also from Season 2. For me, our Season 3 finale was one of the best episodes we ever did because it was really dark and the circumstances of the episode really changed a lot of things for our characters, because we lost one of our own, Captain Montgomery (Ruben Santiago).
Q: How has the dynamic of the show changed this season with the replacement of Captain Montgomery? Do you think there is more to that story that will eventually come to light?
A: I think his death is now very much connected to Beckett’s mother and that continuing mystery, so I think that story-line will be back. There was obviously new information that was revealed and that is connected to Beckett's mother's case. If I know my series creator, my guess is that there will be new wrinkles for us to all deal with and certainly an emotional aftermath waiting to be explored. We go in so many different directions on this show. Some weeks we're very romantic, some weeks we're comedic, and some weeks we're very dark and serious. So I personally think that storyline is waiting in the wings to be further investigated.
Q: Over the holidays, you were in Australia promoting Castle which has a huge fan following overseas. What was that experience like?
A: I had a great time. Castle is a big show down there so my wife and I wanted to dovetail our vacation into some fan appearances. I was surprised how caught up the fans were, they don’t wait for the show to air on TV, they watch it on iTunes and Hulu to stay up to date. Our fans are really nice and respectful, not the crazy type of fans! One lady even gave us fudge that was homemade and it was great! It’s always fun to chat with the fans because they pay attention, ask good questions, and know all the little things about a show really well. And Australia is a beautiful country. We are really into wine and we discovered that Australia has some great wine that we don’t even get over here. I also got to pet a dingo, like have some serious one-on-one time with a dingo, which was a lot of fun. There was an animal sanctuary where you could pay to spend time with dingos and my wife and I are big animal rescue people, so we really wanted to do that. They are really sweet animals, the type we encountered were Alpine dingos.
Q: Tell me about your involvement with animal rescue here in the US.
A: I'm not comfortable calling myself a celebrity but whatever I can do to lend my name or face to something I care about, that’s something I try to do. Julianna and I are involved with Farm Sanctuary, a rescue organization that runs five different farms across the country that provide treatment, medical care, and a home for life to farm animals who have been mistreated. I'm a vegetarian myself and firmly believe that no animals should have to suffer for me to live my life. I also support Best Friends Animal Society, a rescue group based in southern Utah, that rehabilitates animals. They have acres of land and do a really amazing job. They rescued about half the pitbulls form Michael Vick's dog fighting ring and have helped to give them a second chance. I did a PSA a month ago for them alongside my own rescue dog, Sophie. I'm also big on being outdoors. I try to find different ways to get to work, like riding my bike. Los Angeles is such a car town but I've been riding my bike to work for years. I only live about three miles from the studio so I bike there when I can and sometimes I even run. I try to find different ways see the town that I live in. It’s a a very different experience being a pedestrian or bike rider in LA, rather than a car driver.
Q: Before you landed your role on Castle, you were known for playing two doctors, one on General Hospital and one on Army Wives. Tell me a bit about your early career.
A: I did a lot of theater around LA and became well known in theater circles before moving into TV. I did a production of Clock Work Orange that was the LA premiere of that show in 2003 and people started really noticing me. In TV, I was doing a lot of guest star stuff playing bad guys. I did all the shows you could possibly do, playing the 'bad guy', just waiting for something recurring or more regular to come around. It took about six years before people started seeing me as someone who could handle a larger role. I am very grateful to the people at General Hospital because that show proved that I was someone who could be a series regular. I did General Hospital at the time of the writer’s strike. I've always been very fortunate in that I have been able to find work even at times when others could not. I did about four and a half months on that show when so many were unemployed. I was very lucky for that and also lucky because I got to work with some great people and really got to practice my craft. There is something about being in front of a camera every day that really allows you to grow creatively. On a soap opera, you get about two or three takes and you're usually not given much direction because you have to get through a high volume of about a hundred pages of script every shooting day. So, you show up with your twenty or so pages that you worked on with some ideas regarding performance and generally, they let you do them. You get to try things out and find out what works and what doesn’t for you as an actor. After GH, I auditioned for Army Wives as the love interest for Catherine Bell's character who was also a doctor- a smart ass- which is close to my personality. I must say that playing a doctor is one of the hardest things for an actor because you are always saying complicated medical terms and always trying to be specific with your behavior in treating patients. Plus, everything is moving really fast, especially with an ER situation. So there is dialogue that is flying by, expertise flying by, everything you're doing is just flying by... yet you're trying to be accurate and truthful. So it's really one of the toughest characters to play. I was fortunate enough to stay on somebody's radar at ABC (which owns Army Wives) and they thought of me for Castle.
Q: You tend to play characters with leadership abilities? Why do you think you gravitate toward these roles or are cast this way?
A: There's something about being assertive that I like. I've been lucky in that I tend to not play dumb characters very much, although some people might disagree (laughs). People hear the way I speak and they see the way I carry myself and they don’t think of me as someone who is unsure. I tend to go for those type of characters because people assume I can handle the language and that I will know what I am talking about, for example, when I discuss motives as a cop. I don’t know why that is and I guess I'd have to watch video tapes of my behavior to really pin point it, but it's a very good question.
Q: You mention luck a lot, but it seems that you've always been a hard-worker and an over-achiever. You started acting at a young age, you were your high school Valedictorian, and you are the youngest person to ever receive a masters from The Moscow Art Theatre. What do you attribute to your drive and your success?
A: It's one of those things. I started acting when I was six and starred in the play Oliver in elementary school when I was eleven. People started telling me that I had this aptitude for acting and you think, 'Okay, people seem to like what I do'. Then you get to this point in you're life, usually in college, when you realize that singing, dancing, and acting, is what you've done your whole life. I knew that I really enjoyed it and decided to see if I could make a career out of it. So you commit to it and you don’t look back and you see what happens. That’s how it was for me. I committed to it and I went to college and I went to graduate school, got my masters degree, and I moved out to LA and started doing it. I haven’t really ever looked back. It's been a long struggle but I think I'm finally in a place where I am getting to do some interesting stuff... and getting paid for it, which is always good. As for an over-achiever, I think my younger self would look at my older self and be kind of disappointed in how little I get done every day (laughs). I still have those roses in my backyard that need to be trimmed. I still need to get to the gym more. As a young man, I was very Type A- in every club, sport, or thing I could be involved in. I remember though, at one point, I tried to do three sports- track, cross-country, and basketball- plus student council and the play. There comes a time where you realize you can't do everything. I think that was the biggest learning lesson for me. My Dad, a drama teacher, made me choose between going out for varsity basketball and being in the fall play. He really made me think about my decision. I came to realize that some day I might get to be a professional actor, but I would never make it to the NBA. I realized then that you can't do everything and you have to be somewhat realistic and focus on something. It was an important lesson.
Q: Are there any other actors you currently admire?
A: You know, when we were in Australia I discovered, Chris Lilley, who is just funny as hell. He does the show Angry Boys which just started airing here on HBO. We were watching his series Summer Heights High and oh my God, it’s so funny! He’s really brilliant. For me, I tend to admire character actors, just good solid actors that have been around a while- someone like Ed Harris or Gene Hackman. They are two of my favorites to watch because they often play characters that aren’t likable. They are not the heroes and I think that's neat and brave. Also, their performances are always very truthful- truth just seems to seep out of every pore in their bodies.
Q: We just started 2012, a new year, what are your hopes for the coming year? Where do you see your career going in the future?
A: I'm looking forward to some health for myself. I like to be active, to run and workout, and I hate being injured. So my immediate hope for this year is to stay healthy and fit and not get sick. For work, it would be nice to have a few more challenging episodes of Castle before we wrap for the year in mid-April. Obviously, I hope to be renewed for Season 5 so that we can continue to play these characters and see where the show will go. I'd also really like to do some movies and I hope that I get calls to work on films during the hiatus. Whenever Castle is done…I mean hopefully it runs twenty seasons and is never cancelled, but whenever it is done, I'd like to have my own show. I'd like the opportunity to explore being the lead on a show and see where I can take that character and hopefully contribute something interesting.
Q: What is the best way for fans to keep in touch with you?
A: I tweet a lot of behind the scenes stuff from the set of Castle, so I think fans really enjoy following me on Twitter @SeamusDever.