Dule Hill ‘Psych’ Interview with Kam Williams

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“Psych”-ing Out Dule

Dule Hill stars as Burton ‘Gus’ Guster on the USA Network series Psych which airs on Wednesdays at 10 PM ET/PT and at 9 PM CT. Best known for his work as Charlie Young on “The West Wing,” Hill first came to prominence as The Kid opposite Savion Glover and Jeffrey Wright in the Broadway production of “Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk.” His stage credits also include “Black and Blue,” “Shenandoah” and “The Little Rascals.” In 2007, he returned to the stage where he starred in “Dutchman,” Amiri Baraka’s Obie award-winning play about a white woman who seduces a naive, bourgeois black man on a subway train with terrifying results.

Born to Jennifer Garner and Bertholomu Hillshire in Orange, New Jersey on May 3, 1975 and raised with his elder brother, Bert, in nearby Sayreville, Dule began attending dance school when he was 3 and received his first break in 1983 as the understudy to Savion Glover in “The Tap Dance Kid” on Broadway. He went on to perform the lead role in the musical’s national tour alongside Harold Nicholas.

In 1999, he joined the cast of the acclaimed NBC series “The West Wing,” playing the personal aide to the President (Martin Sheen) and, subsequently, deputy special assistant to the chief of staff (Allison Janney). During his 7 seasons on the series, Hill garnered an Emmy Award nomination and 4 NAACP Image Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, as well as receiving 2 Screen Actors Guild Awards as part of the ensemble in a drama series.

On the big screen, Hill appeared opposite William H. Macy in an adaptation of David Mamet’s “Edmond,” and Andrew Davis’ “The Guardian.” His film credits also include “Holes,” an adaptation of the award-winning children’s novel by Louis Sachar, plus “Sugar Hill,” “She’s All That” and the independent film “Sexual Life.”

Here, he talks about Psych, a lighthearted, crime-solving series where he plays a private eye whose partner (James Roday) pretends to be clairvoyant.

Dule Hill: Oh, it’s my pleasure.

Dule Hill: I do believe that there are a few of those rare folks out there with a sixth sense who really do have psychic powers. But I think the majority of people who claim to be psychics are frauds. As for myself, I’ve never experienced anything personally, except on one occasion when I was a kid with a friend of mine who has passed away since. He was spending the night over at my house and tried to wake him up because he was mumbling to himself in his sleep. I asked him what he was talking about and he said, “Oh, man, I had this dream that your little cousin was here and bothering me by climbing on my back.” It turned out that later that day one of my cousins did come over and start messing with him. That was definitely strange. But besides that, I haven’t had any psychic experiences.

Dule Hill: Yeah, any Jamaican could’ve told you from the first time they saw the commercial that she was a fake, because her accent was terrible. [Laughs]

Dule Hill: For one, you have to take your hat off to Steve Franks, the show’s creator, and to the writing staff that he’s assembled. They’re very good at seeing where we’re going both onscreen and as actors, and getting in that lane and taking it further. They also give us a lot of freedom, which is good. They’re not so strict about sticking to the script. If we come up with something really funny to do while we’re on the set, they’ll allow us to go off on that tangent, and 80% of the time it’ll end up on the show. Having that freedom to move within the structure helps a lot. It’s kind of like jazz or any kind of improv. It’s a great collaborative effort, which helps the show to be so funny. But it’s impossible to say exactly what makes it all click. When lightning strikes, you just have to enjoy it and hope it continues a while longer.

Dule Hill: Well, James and I have been good friends ever since we joined the cast. There’s a mutual respect there for each other’s talent, artistry and humanity. Plus, we have a good time on the set, and enjoy being around each other. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. That goes a long way, because we don’t have to manufacture a sense of camaraderie when the cameras start rolling. We come to work looking to have a great time everyday. We get our job done, but the set is a fun place to be.

Dule Hill: The role has definitely evolved since the pilot season. Steve Franks had always promised that it was going to expand. If you compare the first few episodes from the first season to recent ones, you’ll see that the quality of Shawn and Gus’ interaction is richer, and that Gus stands up for himself a little more. It’s a fuller friendship at this point. As for where the development of my character is headed, I can’t say. But I’d really like to see Gus date more. He doesn’t necessarily have to succeed at dating, but just step out there, especially now that Shawn and Juliet’s relationship is really kicking off. Gus has to start asking, what am I going to do with my life?

Dule Hill: I believe that’s public knowledge, now, so I think it’s safe for me to say, “Yes, they are.”

Dule Hill: I don’t think I’m like Gus at all, really. I don’t store lots of trivia in my brain. He knows something about everything, like all these random facts about the Eighties. I think I’m not as hyped as Gus is. I’m smoother and more laidback. I do like to have fun and to play games; otherwise, I don’t think I’m too much like him.

Dule Hill: Wow! I would hope that he would be proud of the country’s taking that major step forward. But I think he might also say that the race doesn’t stop there. We still have further to go to open the floodgates and create more opportunities for our people to achieve that same level of success in other fields so they can fully realize the American Dream.

Dule Hill: I have heard that before, but I don’t know much about I Spy. I’ve figured out that they were detectives, and that there’s a black and white connection, but I’ve never seen a full episode. So, I can’t say whether I see any similarities. Maybe I should try to download it.

Dule Hill: That information she received may be a little off. I don’t think that’s true, because I served on several SAG committees just last year. I actually asked to be pulled off some committees this year because of my schedule. I didn’t want to serve, if I couldn’t devote my time to it. So, I pulled myself off the committees.

Dule Hill: I would say something about falling short of the bar I set for myself, or about my faith, because I’m a Christian.

Dule Hill: Faith is the number one priority in my life, above all, and trying to live up to my potential. At the same time, I know that in my personal life, I fall short often. To me, it’s always about not repeating my mistakes and about trying to improve each day. That’s what I work on in quiet moments of reflection.

Dule Hill: Yes, there are times when I’m afraid, but I don’t allow myself to dwell there. Whatever the situation is, whether emotional or physical, I don’t react to it, I just rest in it. I don’t reside in that area of fear. I try to rise above it and keep moving forward.

Dule Hill: Yes, very happy.

Dule Hill: I laugh every day, but I’d probably say I had my last really good one about three days ago.

Dule Hill: My guiltiest pleasure? Video games and the spa. [Chuckles]

Dule Hill: I live in the Valley.

Dule Hill: Right now, I’m reading “The Enough Moment,” a book by John Prendergast and Don Cheadle about all the atrocities going on in Africa in places like Darfur, Uganda and the Congo.

And the last book I finished was “Desperate Networks.”

Dule Hill: Mostly reggae, gospel and some jazz. But I’d say about 85% reggae music.

Dule Hill: [LOL] That’s a loaded question, because you’re implying that I can cook. When I do cook, I make French toast and scrambled eggs. That’s my wife [actress Nicole Lyn] in the background who’s saying “Don’t lie!” [Laughs some more] The key word there is “when” and those occasions are few and far between.

Dule Hill: I love sushi, and two Jamaican entrees: Escovitch fish and jerk chicken.

Dule Hill: Off the top of my head, I’d say I like Ben Sherman and Mark Ecko a lot.

Dule Hill: I see a good brother who’s trying to make it happen. I may not be the greatest man, but I’m a good guy.

Dule Hill: I’m sort of like the Susan Lucci of the NAACP Awards. {Laughs] So, whenever I get a nomination, I never take it too seriously. It’s all good, though.

Dule Hill: One wish… Oh man… It would be for everyone to be met at the place of their greatest need.

Dule Hill: I think it was going with my parents to look at the house I grew up in. I must have been about 2½ or 3. We were living with my aunt and uncle at the time.

Dule Hill: No, I never even heard of the Starland Ballroom. [Chuckles] It probably was called something else back then.

Dule Hill: That’s a good question. [Pauses to think] Hero’s a strong word. I’d have to say my maternal grandmother, Ivy Hayes, who has passed away, because she was always there, always about her family, and she sacrificed for her family. And Berris Hill, my grandfather on my dad’s side. Unfortunately, he’s deceased too.

Dule Hill: When my family lost the house in Sayreville after 14 years. That time period taught me a lot.

Dule Hill: Yeah, do you think that the success you’ve achieved in your career is because of you, because of a higher power, or because of a mixture of both?

Dule Hill: I’d say, set a vision and go for it, because there’s power in commitment. And you have to be disciplined, and willing to take risks and to put in the effort. I stayed the course when I was struggling in L.A. even after my dough got low and my agent had dropped me. I only had enough money to cover about another month and a half of my bills at that point. I remember sitting in my living room and saying that I was determined to be an actor, that I was either going to be successful at it, or spend the rest of my life trying. **

Dule Hill: It’s really about having faith in yourself. The mind is a powerful thing. You really have to challenge yourself to stay the course, even when everything seems to be saying, “Pack up shop.” When God told me to go to L.A., he didn’t say there wouldn’t be any struggles. He told me to keep pressing through. So, I had to get my mind right.

Dule Hill: I think I’m pretty introspective. There are those moments when I’m spontaneous, but I generally think things through, especially during my quiet time.

Dule Hill: No I haven’t, but now I definitely would like to.

Dule Hill: As a man who cared about others, who really put himself out for others.

Dule Hill: Thanks a lot, Kam. I really appreciate it.

To see a trailer for Psych, visit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvM3RHLyzOo

Kam Williams is a popular and top NewsBlaze reviewer, who gives his unvarnished opinion on movies, DVDs and books, plus many in-depth and revealing celebrity interviews.