Hope everyone enjoyed there July 4th holiday, I myself missed having new episodes of several of my favorite shows including, Burn Notice, Royal Pains, True Blood, and the guilty pleasure, Harper's Island. Luckily they're all returning this week with new episodes, starting tonight with USA's Burn Notice and Royal Pains.
I don't know about you but I'm really enjoying Burn Notice this season, I think it's been brilliant and at the top of it's game. And USA has done a great job of pairing it with another truly funny original series, Royal Pains. If you haven't been watching, now is a good time to catch up.
Now for me one of the best parts of Royal Pains is Paulo Costanzo, who plays Evan Lawson. This last week I missed out on a spur of the moment round table interview with Paulo, which was apparently amazing and hilarious, but I was able to get some of the highlights for you to enjoy.
Q: What was it about the show Royal Pains that made you originally want to be a part of it?
Paulo Costanzo: Well, you know, as an actor in L.A. between projects it’s very competitive right now. So you pretty much, if there’s a role that you like, usually there’s at least 80 other actors who are petitioning for the same role. So I was in audition mode and this is one of the things that came across my desk because I have a giant desk as an actor, full of thousands of scripts. It’s just a room that is a desk that I can also dance on top of if I want. Across that desk came this script and I thought the character was kind of easy for me. It just kind of fit instantly. A lot of roles you read and you’re like okay, I know I have to start the character work and try to get to this place where I can play this guy. This one is just I already had it, kind of, inside me. So yes, I just went in with that in mind. That was a horrible answer to that question.
Q. You have great on-screen chemistry with Mark. Is it something that happened instantly between you guys or did you do something to develop such a great rapport?
P. Costanzo: Well when I went in for the first audition, I got the callback pretty much the same day. The callback was for a chemistry read, which means that they bring you in to read with other actors who have already been cast to see how you get along with them. So I went in for this chemistry read, and at that time I was reading for the best friend, not the brother. There was no brother in the script. It was just Hank’s best friend, Evan, with some other last name. So I went in and I walked in the door, and I looked at him and he looked at me and I said, “Wait a minute. You look exactly…” and he finished my sentence by saying, “Like me!” And we both went, “What the hell?” And in my head I was like, I lost this role. There’s no way I can play this man’s best friend. I look exactly like him, just younger.
So at that point I said, “It looks like…” At that point I threw caution to the wind. It was just, like, I honestly feel like our Jew-fros, like if they got too close in proximity, they would just magnetize together and be almost impossible to separate, like Velcro. And he went, “Yes, I agree.” And I said, “Let’s try it.” And we got close and we somehow strangely mimed this head mashing, which made the room laugh, which I thought was really funny. And I was like ah, and that’s how we began our relationship.
Q: They showed off some of your amazing dancing skills on the show. Is it something that was choreographed or did you improv?
P. Costanzo: That was written as a very short thing. Evan dances around the kitchen preparing for the thing passionately. And I came to Don Scardino, who directs a lot of 30 Rocks. I believe he’s the producer of 30 Rock. And I said, “I’m going to go this week and get a choreographer, so I actually have a couple ballet moves I can throw in there.” And he goes, “Aw, don’t worry about it. No, I’ve got this great girl.” And God strike me down I can’t remember her name right now, but she choreographed everything for 30 Rock and everything for Saturday Night Live over the last ten years. So she’s like a pro. And she showed up, and we worked for about an hour, and between the three of us we came up with that strange dance, which still makes me feel slightly uncomfortable to watch, but people seem to like.
Q: Even though you’re not a medical person on the show, what’s the coolest thing you’ve learned around all the medical speak?
P. Costanzo: Oh, dude, that’s crazy. Well, I’m going to jump the tracks for a second here. This weekend I went to the Hamptons. This doesn’t have to do with the show, specifically, but I’m interested in medicine more. And I met a surgeon up in the Hamptons and he told me, I said, “What’s the craziest thing you’ve done?” just because he told me he loved the show. And he said, well, this one time there was a car accident and I stopped on the side of the highway and there was a guy in cardiac arrest. And he said with a pocketknife that he carries, a very sharp pocket knife, he cracked his chest, reached inside and massaged his heart, and he said he saved his life
Q: With a pocket knife?
P. Costanzo: With a pocket knife in his hands. No sterilization. Nothing. He actually managed to save this man’s life. So, these things do happen in life. They really do, and being a doctor is an incredible thing in life. Having one around changes the dynamic of any accident that happens around you. Suddenly, a fatal accident becomes something that’s not fatal anymore.
Q: What are the major differences between acting on Royal Pains compared with your experiences on Joey?
P. Costanzo: Well it’s a sitcom versus a single camera drama – completely different mediums. A sitcom, you rehearse for four days of the week and then you shoot it all in one night in front of a studio audience. It’s like a play every week, whereas this show, you just shoot it over a seven or eight-day period with a single camera. I enjoy this format of show much more. I’m a feature guy. I like making movies. So the four camera thing I didn’t love it that much. I found myself slightly out of my element.
Q: It’s good to know that you’re enjoying this one a lot better.
P. Costanzo: Well, that’s not what I said, lady, but it’s what I meant. I am enjoying this much, much, much more than Joey.
Q: Good to know. How did you get into acting in the first place?
P. Costanzo: In high school, my first thing ever was I played Tony in West Side Story when I was about 17. I was a really shy kid and I just like forced myself to learn how to sing this one month because I loved West Side Story so much and I somehow managed to get the role. I had an afro and glasses, and the guy who cast me goes, “All right, the first thing to go is the afro and the next thing, I’m going to buy you contacts and we’re going to get you…” So he kind of molded me into what it had to – that’s still probably the hardest role I’ve every played in anything, the most taxing role. But yes, that’s where I started.
Q: So how did you go from a play in school to where you are now?
P. Costanzo: Well, I got an agent for commercials and shows, and I think I booked my fourth audition. I was a guest star in this really hilarious TV show in Canada called Ready or Not, like where every episode is about a girl like getting her period for the first time. That was … Did you say hold on?
Q. Oh I just said, “Oh no.”
P. Costanzo: Oh yes. Oh no. Correct. But then I got another series called Animorphs and I played an alien for a couple of years. And then I just went completely out of work for about eight months and I was honestly considering changing lines of work because none of the casting directors in Toronto liked me and they thought my style was too idiosyncratic. Like, “Why can’t this guy just say the exact lines on the script? Why is he always trying to make up his own lines and change the script?” And then I auditioned for Road Trip as a nationwide talent search and I guess they didn’t feel the same way because I definitely improvised a lot of my audition and they gave me the part.
Q: What you would advise young actors starting out today?
P. Costanzo: The only thing I would advise them to do is prepare for the amount of adversity that you’re going to come in contact with by choosing to be an actor because before you actually “made it” or get the skills, people are all not going to take you seriously, and many people will try to discourage you from it. Don’t take any of their advice. Do it, and do it and do it. Remember the compliments. Forget the insults. I know it sounds cliché, but you have to believe in yourself because there’s going to be moments that no one else does.
Q: Very good. Thank you.
P. Costanzo: Thank you. I’m going to say one more thing to everybody. I would love it if you could, on the USA Web site, they were going to have me do something similar to what Jeffrey Donovan does on Burn Notice and do kind of, an Evan’s tips thing which I didn’t want to do it. So I came back and I told them that I wanted to do something a little more cinema verite.
So they actually came back and said yes somehow. And they’re allowing me to do kind of my own behind-the-scenes – they just gave me a camera and I’m shooting behind-the-scenes and it’s going to become kind of a video log on the Web site. So I’d love you all to check it out because it’s going to be very kind of intimate and personal with just me and a camera.
As well, I’ve set up an e-mail account called firstname.lastname@example.org and I would love people, if you’re reading this or if you’re seeing this, just to e-mail me with anything that you’d want to see behind-the-scenes. Just typically e-mail me and I’ll try to address it because I have another month here, and I have a lot of time and a lot of tape to shoot.
Q: Wow. Well be ready for the bevy of e-mails that you’re about to get. Evan.email@example.com?
P. Costanzo: Correct.
Q: Awesome. Well thanks again, Paulo, for being with us today. Remember to tune in to Royal Pains, Thursdays at 10:00/9:00 central on USA. Thanks!