Psych: The Movie: Series creator Steve Franks on Timothy Omundson's heartfelt cameo
Warning: This post contains spoilers from Psych: The Movie, which aired Thursday night on USA Network. Read at your own risk!
Where do we even begin with Psych: The Movie?
The two-hour holiday reunion was filled with so many fun treats and surprises. There was Timothy Omundson’s heartwarming FaceTime cameo with Juliet (Maggie Lawson), Jimmi Simpson returned for a weird dream sequence that featured an odd cover of Gin Blossoms’ “Allison Road,” Mr. Yin’s apprentice Allison Cowley (Mena Suvari) was revealed as the movie’s true villain, and of course, the final scene of the episode saw fugitive super-spy Ewan O’Hara (John Cena) rope our favorite psychic detectives Shawn (James Roday) and Gus (Dulé Hill) into another adventure. (For the full recap, click here).
Naturally, we had several burning questions after watching the movie, so Psych creator Steve Franks, who co-wrote the script with Roday and directed the movie, hopped on the phone with EW to provide some answers.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with Lassiter (Omundson) and Juliet’s phone call. What was it like filming Maggie’s end of the scene?
STEVE FRANKS: We shot that [scene] the same weekend we shot the Mary Lightly [Simpson] scene, so we had done the most ridiculous thing we were going to do in the movie, and then we turned around and it was the last thing we did at that location, which was Shawn and Juliet’s loft, which we’d actually used for other episodes before. It’s this great space on the water in Vancouver. James actually read the off-screen during Maggie’s part of the shoot. We just had this beautiful night. It was so great because we were all wrapped up in the emotion of the scene and how it sort of echoed what was happening in real life with Tim being far away from us, but still part of our decision-making process. It was this great, beautiful scene.
Unfortunately, this location is right above the train tracks, so we had, in the middle of all this, nonstop trains going through. These weren’t like your 50 miles-per-hour trains; there were like your 4 miles-per-hour trains that were [makes slow train sounds] and so we were constantly having to wait for the train to go by. Poor Maggie, who’s there and is just wrapped up in the moment! That was also the day that Kirsten Nelson had arrived up there and [after] she landed, I called her in the morning and said, “Hey, you should come by just to say hi to everyone!” Kirsten showed up in the morning and just ended up staying the entire day and hanging out with us. It really felt like we were all huddling together and coming together for this piece.
The beautiful part of the scene is when we went and shot Tim’s side of it. Maggie came down and sat in the room and read the off-screen for Tim, so they really were talking to each other in that part of it, so we got a little bit of both worlds.
Where did you guys film Tim’s scene?
We did it out here in L.A. It’s funny because there’s three things we’ve ever shot in Los Angeles for the show: One of them was Val Kilmer tossing his scene with Tim [in the finale] and then this scene as well — so Tim’s our ticket to shooting in L.A. The last one was Jimmi Simpson’s first posthumous appearance — the video they found of him that was shot at Jimmi’s place with all sorts of very strange props that Jimmi collected. We’d mixed the movie and done everything and we wanted just to give Tim as much time as possible to do it. I think he was remarkable.
That scene with Jimmi is the most ridiculous part of the movie. Where did the idea to have him and James sing “Allison Road” come from?
You would think that that would be my concept. I’ve been to Gin Blossoms concerts in Arizona, for god’s sake! The fact that we never used the Gin Blossoms was always an oddity for me, but James had pitched doing “Allison Road” and I was completely on-board with it. Not to mention that it does give the hint and ultimately matches up to the reveal of an additional bad guy. The arrangement of that song was James and Jimmi. Jimmi brought up a ukulele and they made that arrangement, and it’s just one of the strangest arrangements of a song. It was so ridiculous that it was actually perfect. Being that it was a dream sequence, there were really no rules that we had to adhere to. Any way we can get Jimmi into the movie is okay by us!
Whose idea was it to have Maggie and Dulé appear as Princess Leia and Prince in that scene?
The dream sequence was James’ baby. There’s a few things at the beginning that James said he wanted: He said he wanted wrestling stuff and he wanted the dream sequence. By the way, there was a draft before the budget came in where Ally Sheedy was a head in the refrigerator and Curt Smith would’ve appeared in that section too, but Curt was leaving on the eve of the world tour the night we shot, so we couldn’t get Curt Smith into that thing. Plus, when they sent us out to concoct the story, they said, “Make it big! Make it feel like a movie!” and then we did, and they said, “Okay, now take three and half million dollars out of the budget!” Something had to go. We felt like we had enough there. My favorite thing that we did that was sort of a last-minute addition was I wanted to make [Maggie] a hologram. I was so excited to finally [do it] because I never got a chance to riff on doing the hologram. So we had our VFX guy there, and he’s like, “Oh yeah, I can do that easily.” And putting Prince in the purple mist was another nice touch, and with Bowie in there, too, it was a good way to pay tribute to all of the people we’d lost during that year.
The twist is that Allison Cowley was behind it all. Did you know from the beginning that you wanted to bring Allison Cowley back? Also, was that something you wanted to do in the original show but never got around to?
The great thing about it is that the third part of the trilogy — we got a little tied up in a budget thing — we had a much more elaborate thing set up for it. It came together and we cleared it off, but what we’d also done is that in there was a line about her having a retainer and we’d shot a piece where she had the retainer and she was pulling it out as if she was going to escape. So, we sort of had that in the back of our minds that she could escape. But once the movie and all this happened, it was like, she never really actually did anything. She was not responsible. Obviously, there were crimes there, but she could reasonably be out by now, so we felt we didn’t have to do a whole escape thing, but certainly if we’d set her up in this final piece of the trilogy as someone who was going to inherit the mantle for our notorious serial killer, she should have something to come back and prove, and our people had destroyed her life, so it felt like a very natural way to bring back something.
The great thing is we were then able to take Zachary Levi’s character, having all this sloppiness about him, and it’s like, “How did this guy pull all this stuff off? How is he funded for this kind of thing?” and leave a little bit of a nagging question that gets answered in the third act. My favorite thing is having the opportunity to take your villain at the moment that he’s gonna give his big speech and kill him. I thought that was really fun, and that was an idea we had early. We only had two villains who were still out there. There was only Allison Cowley, who sort of out there in the mist, and the other one is Jacqueline Medeiros [Mädchen Amick] from the “Indiana Shawn” episode. She’s hit in the head with a shovel, but she’s never captured by the [police].
Shawn and Juliet finally got married in the movie, too! Is it fair to assume that you knew the wedding had to happen in the movie since you didn’t get to it in the finale?
I didn’t want to deprive people who were waiting for that for all these years of not seeing it. I really thought, “Where is a better place to have this than with them being beaten up and bloodied and the villains being carted off?” So, it just felt so perfectly Psych to have the wedding right there and then. If we’d had like a regular wedding, it probably would’ve felt false.
The final scene features the return of Ewan O’Hara. If USA green-lights another movie, will that movie involve Ewan and whatever he’s gotten the boys into?
It very well should. I hope so. Cena was so great to come up and do that with us, and we had such a blast with him, most importantly because I wasn’t up there when Cena was on the show, so I was meeting him for the first time the day we shot. It was exciting. He’s just the nicest guy in the world and just really fun and so great with the jokes. We just loved it. However we have to do it, we’re gonna try to bring Cena and make it the catalyst. The same thing I did with the last episode of season 8, I’m doing here: We’re off on another adventure and hopefully we’ll pick it up and see where the next step goes.
Have you already started thinking about what the next one could be about, or are you waiting?
Well, I’m hoping that James is gonna want to write it with me again, because I couldn’t have had more fun writing with him. We have a whole slew of ideas and we know exactly where that wedding present takes us. It’s a great start to the next one. If they called tonight and said, “get writing,” I’d say, “I’ll see you next week and pitch that to you.” But we’ll keep the other developments fluid until we see how the numbers are. I’m hoping people are going to come out to see this right away in a big way.