The Mentalist is one of the hottest shows around at the moment and when FemaleFirst got the chance to talk to Owain Yeoman, who plays Officer Wayne Rigsby in the show, we jumped at it. We quizzed him on everything from his similarities with his character, his previous acting roles, and his love for Daniel Day Lewis. Enjoy!
- Let's start with your role as Wayne Rigsby in The Mentalist, how do you like playing him, what do you enjoy about it?
Oh it's great we have an absolute blast, it's a very small cast so it's nice and intimate and it's been a fun role for me to play. I made the slightly ill-informed choice in the first season to eat a lot and then I realised that character calories and real calories are the same! So if he gets fat, I get fat too and so I decided to rein that in a bit.
But I had a conversation with Bruno Heller, who's the show's creator, and we decided that it would be great to not see another one of those flash cops that always gets the girl and who slides across the hood of cars, effortlessly.
I quite like the idea of the guy who maybe could get the girl but couldn't express it, maybe emotionally dyslexic and bumbling and I feel that it's given more of a grey area and made him a bit more of a real life character, because no one in real life gets their own way all the time, so yeah, it's been fun to play that and also been fun to play an American, you know, I'm over here, stealing their jobs! (laughs)
- Do you feel you are similar to your character in any way?
We look very similar, we have the same hair we have the same face, he wears different suits to me and he speaks with a different accent other than that we're identical.
And we've got a different name, but I'm very similar to my character in all those ways (laughs).
-You said it was a small cast, so who is the worst for messing up their lines and giggling during takes?
We're quite serious when it comes to actually shooting, I'm a bit of a class clown, I like to keep things light but when it comes to work I like to work hard. I think TV's a funny one we work very long hours, 15/16 hour days when we're on location and I think, in the words of my old grandmother "you have to laugh or you'll cry" and there's always a good deal of that.
Also everyone pulls really hard, it's a small cast but it's a massive crew and we're enfranchised by the incredible team of hair and makeup and stage lighting groups, all those guys they've got the heavy lifting, we come in a do the easy bit in many respects.
I think when it comes down to it, it's always interesting to me because Tim is the one who is most different to his character, he's so upbeat and lively in real life so to see him with the whole dead-pan thing is very weird 'cause that's nothing like him in real life.
- Yes, he comes across with such a dry humour in the show
Yeah and I forget that's how people perceive him and they're like "oh my god, he smiles?" and I'm like "yeah he smiles all the time" and he's made the genius choice to keep him very businesslike and dead-pan and he plays it brilliantly, he's a phenomenal actor.
- If you could play any other character on the set, who would it be and why?
If I could play any other character? I'd like to play Red John but we haven't really seen him yet, that would be cool. Maybe I am Red John, let's just start that rumour that I am Red John, I am a serial killer, there we go! (laughs)
But yeah, Jane has such an irreverence about him and he has such a playfulness about him and I think we've all, at times, being doing our cop mode and thought "god how great would it to be Jane and be like 'yeah I can see those are the rules but I don't really care'" you know what I mean?
So there's an element of that but I'm really happy playing the character I play. I've got to say, I think everyone brings their own special thing to their character and I'm really happy and comfortable being part of that ensemble.
- I think one of the shows favourite couples was definitely Rigsby and Van Pelt, is there any chance they're going to get back together in season 4?
Very much so, I think it's one of those moonlighting scenarios where you bring a couple together and it's like 'where do you go from there?' And they (writers) rushed it together very soon and I think they were then faced with the creative problem of, no one wants to watch a drama and see all happy families, so ever since then they've (writers) been finding ways to obstruct it, but there's a lot of tangible feelings between the two characters and I think towards the end of season 3 now you see that the wedding between Van Pelt and O'laughlin doesn't go quite as smoothly as we'd hope.
That will open up in season 4 a real possibility for Rigsby to check in with himself and see where he's up to in terms of his affections for her (Van Pelt) and for her to say, he is brilliant, he is handsome and I do want him after all (laughs).
- You mentioned Red John before, I've heard in the season finale his mole is uncovered, is that true?
Yes the mole in uncovered. Well, there's two massive things really, the revelation of who's been working within the CBI for Red John and also a confrontation, for the first time, between Patrick Jane and Red John.
- So we will actually see Red John?
You actually physically see him (laughs), and we have an incredible actor playing him, a very well known actor who I thought was a genius piece of casting. It's a fascinating moment in season 3, I'll put it this way, when we came to the end of season 3 we actually had to ring the creator and say "how are we able to do season 4?" it's literally that much of a cliff-hanger.
Jane does something so out of character, so stupendously left field that it will leave you as wondering how we will pick up in season 4.
- I heard that you didn't initially plan to be an actor but that you wanted to be an accountant is that true?
I didn't want to be an accountant, I found myself being a banker which was a bit different. I went to university and I was going to do a PHD in the states but I didn't get the funding for it so I had two years where I had a bit of a wobble and didn't really know what I wanted to do and I ended up working as a banker.
I probably did more acting in that job than in acting because I literally didn't have a clue what I was doing. After two years they went "you don't have a clue what you're doing, do you?" and I went "no" and so they let go of me, but fortunately that allowed me to earn enough money to put myself through drama school.
I thought if I'm going to be an actor, I don't want to patronise the acting profession, I want to take it seriously and if I want to be an actor, I'm going to train and so I trained for three years at RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts) and then found myself acting.
- Are there any other professions that you would like to try your hand at?
I would have loved to have been a chef, I love cooking and I had a dream job a few years ago I was on a show called Kitchen Confidential and I had such a blast doing that because it was basically just, me playing a chef and I was like "oh what's wrong with that, it's brilliant!" and they had this amazing thing where they would take whatever slop we would cook up and turn it into something beautiful. We would be roasting some mushrooms, frying and burning everything and they would go "Tada, aubergine on a bed of wild saffron rice" so that was all good.
I had fun doing that, I think it's just possibly because I'm allergic to hard work so I couldn't be a chef, the hours the guys work, they're like rock stars. A friend of mine is a chef in Bali and another friend said "god, he's like brad Pitt" and I said "yeah, I think he's more like arm Pitt" 'cause you know, Brad Pitt would be a bit of an over statement.
- You were in Terminator the Sarah Connor Chronicles, that must have been worlds apart from your role in the mentalist? How did you like playing that role, do you like having variety?
How did I like playing an indestructible robot? Yeah it was alright, yeah (laughs). It was a bit limiting as well, I had the chance to go on a do the rest of the series and I didn't just because I felt like I didn't want to become robot of the week.
I think the genius of those movies was that they were an elevated chase sequence and every movie kept you on the edge of your seat but you knew it was a very reductive formula. At the end of the day John Connor would either get away or wouldn't and the robot would catch up with him. In terms of a series I wasn't sure how long that had legs for.
I got offered the chance to be part of generation kill with the guys who did The Wire which is, as far as I'm concerned, is as good as TV gets. I jumped at the chance to play a human being as opposed to a robot, I thought that would be more interesting as an actor. But it is quite nice to be run over and shot at and get your head blown off and just put it back on and carry on, that was quite fun (laughs).
- Are there any films you wish you had been cast in, any film, any time?Any roles I wish I'd been cast for? I've done all the table reads for Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow for all the pirate movies, because he's just been doing other stuff and I just love the whole Jack Sparrow thing he's got going on, it is just genius and I just think he has so much fun with it.
The second time I did the table read I actually joked with Gore Verbinski and all the people doing the table read, I was like "fortunately, the guy who's playing this hasn't done anything with this role, so in carte blanche I can do anything I want with it really, erm I can't remember his name, Geoff Depp, John Depp so, sad that he couldn't be here but just enjoy my take on the character."
I think he just had so much fun doing that and it's very seldom you see something truly creative become truly commercial and I love that. I think he's doing something really out there, really left field but it's also a massive, massive business that's doing really successfully, so good on him.
- Are there any particular actors you'd like to work with in the future?
Oh my goodness me, Daniel Day-Lewis, huge huge fan of his. I've always loved his philosophy on acting, he always talks about returning to a state of play.
He said that before he does a role he goes and watches children play because as adults, I think we learn inhibitions, we learn all the things we're not supposed to do and kids are so uninhibited and completely free and I think that's an amazing quality to have.
I think that state of play, it's important to return to because you find yourself getting embarrassed or inhibited doing things with a self-consciousness or external awareness, you're already making judgements on your character and you're already sort of dead in the water so he's a huge role model of mine. I wouldn't mind his career, that would be alright (laughs).
The Mentalist Season 3 is out on Blu-ray and DVD on 10 October 2011, courtesy of Warner Home Video.