There comes a time in every TV character's life where they must choose to either stay in one-dimensional land, or transition into something of substance. For The Mentalist's Owain Yeoman, that time is now, and he claims Rigsby is ready to go big or go home.
At the Monte Carlo Television Festival on Tuesday, Owain talked to reporters about what's to come for Rigsby and Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti), and why he thinks The Mentalist will remain in our weekly TV lives for a long time...
Are you anything like your character?
Owain Yeoman: Well, yes and no. We look alike, have the same body and have the same hair, but I am better at expressing myself than Rigsby. I didn't want to make him the stereotypical cop character that is smooth and confident—you know the guy who slides across the hood of a car and shoots the bad guys without even looking. I think he's a little like me in that he's a bit emotionally dyslexic, he's good at his job, but he's not overconfident. He wants the girl but doesn't quite know how to get her. That's certainly my experience as well.
Do you have any regrets about any character traits you gave him?
The only regret I have is that I made it so he eats a lot. I remember at the beginning Bruno (Heller) said to me, "Oh, you're doing the eating thing, you're going to regret it later," and I did. It really is hard to have to eat all the time. Once we were shooting a scene and I was eating lobster. We did take after take after take, and I must have eaten 19 lobsters by the end of the show. By the end they were spooning lobster on my plate saying "Hmm, I'm not sure if this was your lobster or someone else's, but let's just put it on the plate and give it a try shall we?" It's a glamorous way to die, death by lobster. It's put me off lobsters for life. I've tried to have him eat better on the show. In fact, while playing Rigsby, I have become a vegetarian so I guess you could say Rigsby is a vegetarian, too.
What can we expect from Rigsby next season?
I think you'll see him really grow a pair and move from being a boy to a man. He'll take more control of his relationships and I think it really emancipates him. We may see him date other people and we'll see him move from being a lover to Van Pelt to a friend.
What was it like on the set when Simon Baker directed, and would you like to direct yourself?
Simon is very smooth and so it went well. I think the thing he learned is that it is very difficult to direct and star in a show. It nearly killed him. But from my perspective it was great. We'd shoot and he'd look around and ask, "Do you want another one? No? Right, OK, we got it. Let's move on." I would love to direct and express myself in that way and I think doing it on The Mentalist would be a great way to try my hand at it. I'd be among friends and if you're going to fail, that's the best environment to do it in. I do a lot of writing, although I would never be presumptuous enough to tell the writers what to write or where to go with a script. But it's actually a very open and creative set. Bruno encourages collaboration and the sharing of ideas, and he'll tell you point blank if your idea will work or not.
Why do you think The Mentalist is so popular—what makes it stand out from the other police procedural shows?
It's a procedural show that doesn't mind poking fun at the procedural element. I mean, Simon stole Columbo's trench coat right out from under him. I also think that people can tune in and out and not feel like they've missed something. With shows like Lost, which I loved, if you missed an episode you were completely lost. With ours you can miss an episode or two and still tune in and enjoy it. I think that we've forgotten that television is supposed to be entertaining and there's nothing wrong with simply being entertained for an hour.