'Psych' series finale: James Roday on landing dream guest star, ending
Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched Psych‘s series finale, stop reading now. James Roday spoke to EW about the “big get” and that pitch-perfect ending.
The hour revolved around Shawn (Roday) trying to find a way to break the news to best friend Gus (Dulé Hill) that he was leaving him and Santa Barbara to go to San Francisco to be with Juliet (Maggie Lawson). In the end, he did it by recording a message on DVD. If you teared up when it first became clear that Gus was watching a disc, you’re not alone. Another great moment was Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) watching his goodbye DVD and deciding not to listen to Shawn admit what Lassie’s always suspected (that Shawn’s not actually psychic). You may even have gotten a little misty when Shawn hugged his father Henry (Corbin Bernsen), and finally called him for help on a case — also acceptable.
Before we get to the ending, let’s talk about those three casting Easter Eggs: Deon Richmond played Gus’ boss. “There’s been a runner throughout Psych that maybe Gus played Bud on The Cosby Show as a child, and Deon Richmond is the real Bud,” Roday explains.
Billy Zane has been referenced on Psych more times than Roday can count. “We’ve been chasing him for a while, so to have him as the final villain ever on Psych felt really, really right.”
And then the “ultimate gift to our fans,” he says, was finally seeing Det. Dobson on-screen — and having him be played by Val Kilmer, another actor who’s been regularly referenced on the show. “We knew the longer the show lasted, the bigger the payoff it would be to finally be able to show who this person was. Val was our first choice, and as you learn in television, sometimes you don’t even get your 10th choice,” Roday says. “I am eternally grateful to Val for doing this, and I think he will soon discover just how much of an impact it’s going to have. But it was awesome. And trivia, it was actually the last thing that ever shot on Psych, because we did it in Los Angeles not in Vancouver.”
The landing of Kilmer is a story in itself. Hill was hanging out with a friend who runs the LA Shakespeare Festival. “They do these giant celebrity-laden readings every year, and he said, ‘You know, Val’s done those for us in the past. Val’s actually a really good friend of mine. I wonder if he has any idea how many times you guys talk about him on your show.’ They were like having brunch, and he said, ‘Let’s just call him and ask him.’ And the next thing Dulé knew, he was on the phone with Val, who of course had never seen our show and had no idea what anybody was talking about. But Dulé, being the proactive guy that he is, just put him right on the spot right there on the phone. What’s Val gonna say? ‘Yeah, of course, it sounds fun.’ But then we actually had to put in the legwork,” Roday says. “Val’s got a one-man show that he’s been touring around the country called Citizen Twain. He dresses up like Mark Twain. It’s a passion project of his. I would recommend seeing it if you can. I managed to get to that show and get myself backstage through the help of others, and then I just kind of laid it on. I seized my moment. And then we just chased him through assistants and through his agent to the point where I think it was just easier for him to do it so that he could be done with us. But he was such a peach to work with. I think because there was a little bit of time between when we first made contact and when he came in to do it, he was able to educate himself a little bit about the show and kinda realized, ‘Oh wow, there really is a cult following here, and they really did talk about me a lot on this show, and I get it.’ So I think he got a kick out of that.”
In the end, Gus quit his job and followed Shawn to San Francisco to live a life of adventure. He made it just in time to witness Shawn’s proposal to Juliet — of course she agreed to marry them, mostly Shawn — and jump in the car to chase after a thief who stole the heirloom engagement ring. “The proposal scene was sort of hanging over our heads forever. There were so many different versions of how Shawn would propose, or IF Shawn should propose. We didn’t want anybody to hate us, but we also needed it to be Psych through and through. We didn’t want to cop out and have a proposal just because that’s what you’re supposed to do. So I feel like we figured out a way to do it that’s just a little off and,” he says, laughing, “still results in the wackiness that you had come to expect from us. We knew we were never gonna have a wedding. That decision was made a while ago, like we’re not gonna go there. But I do think it was important to let everybody know that hey, these two are going to be together, you don’t have to worry about that.”
These three, James.
“The three of them are going to be together.”