Recently, Executive Producers Michael Rauch & Andrew Lenchewski and star Mark Feuerstein from USA’s Royal Pains spoke to the press about the upcoming episodes, what is in store for the future, and more.
Mark Feuerstein stars as Hank Lawson, who, after becoming blacklisted from the medical community, revives his career as a “doctor for hire” to the rich and famous in the Hamptons. In addition to treating this select group of the East End elite, Hank also caters to the towns less fortunate by donating his time at the local clinic. The series also stars Paulo Constanzo, Reshma Shetty and Jill Flint.
Read on to see what great stuff they had to say!
On father Eddie’s heart attack, the effect on his sons, & whether or not it will change him
Michael Rauch: Well, the second part of the question first. I think that we’re not so sure if [their] father will change or not, and that’s part of what we’re dealing with in these back six episodes. Seeing the effects, not just physically, but what happens to Eddie. To be in the presence of his sons, if this can help change him. That becomes a big part of these six episodes.
I think it’s a very sobering thing, especially for Hank. Evan, as was played in the 12 episodes of the summer, was more immediately forgiving than Hank was and a big part of Hank’s arc was could he get to a place of either forgiveness or acceptance? I think when you come face-to-face with the thought of losing a parent, no matter what your relationship is with them, it forces you to reassess things and reevaluate them and see if you need to change your perception of who they are and what you want the relationship to be.
Jump with us to read what Mark has to say about Eddie and much more!
Mark’s thoughts on Eddie’s heart attack & the effects on his relationship with Hank & Evan
Mark Feuerstein: We’re such a family at Royal Pains. The writing staff, the executive branches of the show all the way down the line through the crew and the entire cast, and there was a moment where I was hanging out with the writers and our executive producer Michael Rauch was kind enough to ask me, “Is there anything you’d like to see in season two?” I said, “Well, Hank is this pretty perfect guy. If there was a way to give him some dirt under his fingernails, to edge him up a little bit, I would be thrilled.”
In response to that, in addition to their own sensibility that that would be good for the show, they introduced a character, Eddie R. Lawson, our father, our estranged father, our deadbeat dad who abandoned us. I think as a result of Henry Winkler’s character—and he is so brilliant to have cast and so brilliant in playing the role—you see another color in my character, which is rage; adolescent anger that has not been able to evolve itself into adulthood because the guy left us.
I think Royal Pains is a show about second chances, about getting another chance to do it right. I get another chance when I come out there to be a doctor to the rich and the not so rich in the Hamptons. Now my dad is out there supposedly trying to repair the damage he did when we were kids.
Unfortunately, as you saw in the finale of the past season he wasn’t just there to repair our family. He was also there to inform on our landlord, Boris, to the FBI and give them any pertinent information that might help them take Boris down, which means he was also using us. So, the big question in the coming season is will my dad live or die after having a heart attack and then if he lives will we kill him?
On Divya’s marriage and Reshma Shetty leaving the show (My 1st question!)
Michael Rauch: Well, I can’t actually answer that question, because that would end a lot of the suspense and drama. She’s a very important part of the fabric of the show, and she’s also a character who’s torn between different obligations. That’s a big part of what we’re going to do in the back six episodes with her character. It really takes us all the way to the winter season finale, where things really come together and she’s forced to make a decision in Episode 218. [So will the actress/character be leaving the show? I asked for clarification.] It would be a loss to the show if we didn’t see the lovely Reshma Shetty anymore.
On the different romantic relationships within the show currently (My 2nd question!)
Andrew Lenchewski: It’s a great question and actually, all the relationships that you mentioned, Jenny, are going to be a big part of the character stuff that we play to in the back six. We’re going to see a very big evolution in this Evan/Paige dynamic that we started to tease out at the end of the front 12 which is not only a lot of fun and a storyline that brings a lot of comedic energy to the show, but something’s that really helping to evolve Evan’s character in a wonderful way.
We’re going to see Hank and Emily’s relationship climax in a way that might be pleasing to some members of the audience and maybe less so to others. The Divya/Adam/Raj triangle is also going to peak in the back six and Hank/Jill, as has been the case since the beginning of the show, there are these star crossed lovers that always seem to find fate and timing intervening for better or worse. That’s going to happen, once again, towards the end of the season. It’s been a big part of what got us here and something we’ll continue to lean on as we go forward.
On where they see the different romantic relationships long-term, who they want to see together, etc. (My 3rd question!)
Andrew Lenchewski: Yes, I think that the spirit of our answer is that just as love is a big part of every summer these relationships are to some extent the lifeblood of these character storylines and really give us a lot of stuff to play, not just in terms of each of those pairings that you mentioned, but the way that those pairings impact upon all the relationships within the show. There are some people who are more interested in others than seeing something potentially happening between Evan and Divya, but what everyone agrees on is that there is a great tension, a great chemistry there and now that these characters have become almost brother and sister to each other how does her relationship with Adam, her relationship with Raj, how do those impact upon her relationship with Evan? How does Evan having now met this girl, Paige, impact upon his relationship with Divya? A lot of those things are going to be a lot of fun to play with.
Just to reiterate what I said before, Hank and Jill is sort of a well that we keep going back to because it’s really interesting study in timing and fate in that it always seems to either be the perfect time for them to be together or the perfect time for them not to be together and we’ll continue to go back to that for story in the winter six.
And now more with Mark about his character…
On how he prepared for his role as a doctor
Mark Feuerstein: I followed doctors around, whoever would allow me to. I met with concierge doctors. I sat in on a brain surgery approaching the time of shooting, staring through a hole in somebody’s head and looking into the center of who they are.
I talked to concierge doctors about who their clients are. I think they’re generally slightly older and slightly less attractive than the ones you see on Royal Pains, but I got a sense for what niche this concierge medicine thing has filled in our marketplace. And in the current state of healthcare as it is with needs that aren’t being met and we have on staff on the show a doctor named Irving Danish. He’s an emergency surgeon in Marblehead, Massachusetts. And not only is he the onset doctor who is helping to make sure that everything we’re performing is accurate. He’s also the doctor who is giving the writers their ideas for the emergency situations that come up on the show, so there’s a great synergy that happens because he’s the one who thought of these, who researched them and who offered them up to be written.
So, right there on set we have the best source ever. He’s also the best guy ever because if you’re suffering from something actual on set, whether it’s me getting vertigo from diving into a pool ten times in a row or Paulo having headache, he’s right there. So, there are actual medical episodes that he’s taking care of while also giving us the brilliant fake ones.
On the challenges he faces when portraying Hank
Mark Feuerstein: It’s a great role that there are many challenges. There are challenges in terms of the high stakes emotion that is called upon Hank every week, whether it’s for a patient or his brother or his father or Divya or Jill. I love the role because I get to be romantic, dramatic, comedic and this medical MacGyver. So, it’s thrilling for all those reasons.
But there are moments, in addition to just the acting of it and the emotional challenges of just acting really beautifully written scenes, the medical terminology; I’m thinking of things like glossopharyngeal nerve, I’m thinking of familial vasovagal syncope, all the various conditions and ailments that I have to pronounce correctly and have to do it under duress and the pressure of an emergency medical situation. That’s challenging in and of itself.
But all the challenges that come with this role are never challenges like taking a history test in high school. They’re the challenges you dream of having. When I’m walking Carl Schurz park, where I walk on the upper East Side learning my lines for hours on end, just trying to by osmosis shove them into my brain for the time they need to be there, I’m never not aware how lucky I am that I get this challenge every week to learn these beautiful lines, to tell these beautiful stories, as I play this dream role for an actor.
On who he would like to see as a guest star on the show
Mark Feuerstein: There’s an actress who’s in [the penultimate] episode this coming season, it’s number 217, and she plays a woman—the actress’ name is Julianne Nicholson. You would know her from [Law & Order: Criminal Intent], but she plays a very Type A New Yorker who left the rat race and started flying planes out in Long Island. She’s now having the symptoms of caffeine addiction and uppers, but she’s actually cleaned herself up.
And it turns out that there’s a sort of … episode happening for her and she’s so good, I mean she’s so amazingly vulnerable and able to cover that as well as an actress. And the dynamic between us, I just thought there was great chemistry because the characters bond over the fact that we were both flying too high in the New York rat race and had to come down. She’s just a great actress, and I feel that she upped my game in that episode.
So, that would be the person I would say I’d love to see come back. But also, Tom Cavanaugh, who you remember from Ed, was in our premiere episode in January, “Mulligan,” and he is so charming. He played this ex-golfer who can’t really get back in the game because of this Dupuytren syndrome that he has in his hands. He has this claw, they call him Captain Hook because of his fingers locking and he does it in a look, in a face, in a wince instead of hitting you over the head with it and that’s why he’s so good and has been so successful. We were so lucky to get him to play that part, Jack O’Malley and the chemistry between and Jill Flint is phenomenal.
So, those are two people I would love to see back, but I’m so happy we’re definitely going to see Henry Winkler [father Eddie] back and Campbell Scott [Boris] and Christine Ebersole [Ms. Newberg] and all these other great characters that have been so fabulous to paint this crazy eclectic world that we live in in the Hamptons.
On what he’s learned from the medical aspect of the show
Mark Feuerstein: I have learned so much that I will never do; how to perform an impromptu tracheotomy, how to perform surgeries on the beach, things I will never attempt in my own life, but every condition, whether it involves a particular organ or a particular muscle disease presents its own challenges in terms of how to treat them and there’s one thing I said to a patient, it was about a character played by Will Chase and it may have been the finale episode, where we also had John Legend as an amazing guest star who is singing a great beautiful song called “Shine” at this huge dinner party.
But in that episode, I’m talking to Jill, who is taken with this character played by Will Chase, a character named Ben, and I say, “The guy’s a huge advocate for multiple sclerosis, and he takes responsibility for his own healthcare, yeah, not a lot bad can be said about the guy,” and I think that’s the most significant message that Hank brings to the table in the show, Royal Pains, as a whole.
It’s about taking responsibility for your own healthcare. You can complain about the healthcare system. You can hire a concierge doctor, but as my advice would be to an actor, similarly with your own health, there’s no one in the taking care of your own health business who is going to do as good a job as you. So, take responsibility, get those check-ups from your doctor. I recently went and got all the blood work done and went to see my physician.
You can live in ignominy, if that’s a word, in ignorance about your own health and hope that you’re doing good because you just feel okay, or you can even not feel okay and not get it checked out, but I think Hank Lawson stands for getting it checked out, taking responsibility and not leaving it to the last minute when everything goes awry.
Royal Pains airs on Thursday on the USA Network at 9/8c. Check it out! Thanks to the guys for great interviews!