James Roday Rodriguez on Future Psych Movies and Dulé Hill

From creator/co-writer/director Steve Franks, the latest movie Psych 3: This is Gus is set amidst the preparation for the wedding of Gus (Dulé Hill) and Selene (Jazmyn Simon), prior to the birth of Baby Guster. When Shawn (James Roday Rodriguez, who also co-wrote and executive produces) realizes his questions about Selene aren’t being answered, he sets out on a mission to get to the truth.

During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, Roday Rodriguez talked about what prompted this third movie, how he feels that there will definitely be more Psych movies in the future, his hope of someday seeing an empanada-rito on a menu somewhere, keeping track of all the pop culture references so that they don’t repeat any, what made him realize his resemblance to Rob Zombie, the tricks he and co-star Hill have to keep from cracking up in a scene, and just what his friendship with Hill means to him.

Collider: Let’s start with the most burning question which is, is an empanada-rito an actual thing that you can order and get somewhere, or is this your gentle nudge in trying to inspire someone to make it a thing?

JAMES RODAY RODRIGUEZ: I think it certainly exists in the Psych universe. Much like Quatro Queso Dos Fritos, if you put it out there enough times, hopefully some locally owned place will give it a shot and we can push it into reality. It’s a heart attack, regardless. I don’t know that I would recommend eating it, but it would be fun to see it on a menu.

When you did the first Psych movie, you talked about how you felt you had to do a second movie because there needed to be more Lassie. What prompted this third movie? Was there something specific that you felt still needed to be explored?

RODAY RODRIGUEZ: Part of it was an extension of the same thing that drove us to make the second one. Tim [Omundson] keeps defying expectations, keeps getting better, keeps coming along further and further, and keeps getting stronger and more confident. Giving him the opportunity to keep coming back and find the new Lassiter is something that is very exciting to all of us. It’s such a joy to watch. That’s gonna be a throughline from now on, period. And then, as far as continuing to make the movies goes, they’re just love letters to our fans. They’re the reason that the movies are happening. Make no mistake, there’s no other way to say it. If there wasn’t an appetite for these Psych movies, we wouldn’t be making them. It’s not like a studio or network is going, “Oh, man, out of the goodness of our hearts, we don’t want this show to end.” That’s not how it works. For fans, it’s about what we think they wanna see and what they haven’t seen yet. In terms of character evolution and these characters getting older and facing, how do we wanna address that in a way that feels real, but also still very much Psych. Fans have made such an incredible investment in these fake human beings that we feel an enormous responsibility to do right by the fans. That’s the other major ingredient with any of these movies.

RELATED: 9 Essential Episodes of 'Psych' to Revisit Before the Premiere of 'Psych 3: This is Gus'

Does it feel like there will at least be a fourth movie?

RODAY RODRIGUEZ: If Steve [Franks] has anything to do or say about it, there will be at least a fourth movie and probably 20 more movies. We treat every movie like the gift that it is, for us, for the fans, for everybody. We try to leave it in place where, in case you never did come back to visit these people, you would feel okay about where they are. And then, if you do get to come back and visit them again, we can pick up and start a new adventure. That’s the way we have to approach it now because we don’t want anyone to feel cheated or left wanting or be disappointed. It’s a tricky balance of always wanting to leave it open for more, but also wanting each movie to feel satisfying, in and of itself, in case it’s the last one.

One of my favorite things about Psych has always been the random pop culture references. With this movie, I loved the “Don’t be Adrien Brody’s last breath in The Village” comment. How do those come about? Do you keep a notebook with you and write down references? How do you even remember or keep track of what’s been referenced?

RODAY RODRIGUEZ: Steve definitely has a notebook filled with stuff that we haven’t used. We have enough for three more movies, just using jokes that didn’t make it into other cuts. We do have to check ourselves sometimes. That’s a perfect example because I’ve made jokes about that moment in that movie, since I saw it. Sometimes I forget if we put it into an episode or a script, or if we didn’t, so we’ll have to do a little internet research sometimes to make sure that we’re not double-dipping. It was unacceptable, the way that they shot that scene. I felt so bad for Brody. A lot of times, we make sure that enough time has passed that it’s all good and it’s all fun, and that everybody should be able to laugh. We try to police ourselves into not making jokes that are too soon. That’s why so much of our stuff is steeped in the ‘80s and ‘90s. There’s a statute of limitations. You can’t get bent out of shape about a joke that was in a movie in 1988. That’s our get out of jail free card.

I loved that you managed to work in Peacock and USA Network jokes and a comment on the addition of Rodriguez back to your name. Do you ever worry about going to obscure, or is it more of a balance of some things that people might not get and some that everyone will get?

RODAY RODRIGUEZ: It’s definitely that. It’s a mixed bag. Steve and I’s rule is that the jokes in Psych are always gonna range from fast balls down the middle, cast the widest net you can, all the way down to, “You and I did this to make each other giggle during the writing process, and it’s possible that not a single other person on the planet is going to appreciate it, but the good news is that it’s baked so deeply into the cake that it simply doesn’t matter.” You don’t wanna have too many of those because then it starts to feel self-indulgent and like you’re making it for yourselves, but we’ll sprinkle a handful of those in, every time. What’s truly crazy is how many of those jokes actually do and getting appreciated. It just blows my mind. I like to think my brain is 70% a trash compactor for useless pop culture. I wished there was something I could do with this garbage in my head, and then Psych came along and it was like, “Oh, finally, I have an outlet for all of it.” But then, so many other people are walking around with trash heads. It’s like, “How dare you know that reference?” But it makes me feel better?

How did you come to dress up as Rob Zombie? You had the whole look down perfectly.

RODAY RODRIGUEZ: I’ve gotta give my old pal, Monika Mikkelsen, who’s a casting director, credit because I never would have known that I resembled Rob Zombie, if she hadn’t texted me one day with our photos side by side and she said, “Did you have any idea?” Of course, I didn’t have any idea. Nobody knows what Rob Zombie actually looks like. I think of him with the makeup and the white face. Who knows what he actually looks like, under there? And then, there was this picture of him just as a normal dude. Talk about getting slapped with a fun reality in middle age that you just never saw coming. I was like, “Holy cow! I look like Rob Zombie. That’s weird. How can we immediately turn that into a joke?”

Was it hard to do the scenes with Dulé Hill and the ventriloquist dummy, especially with how bad he was doing the ventriloquist dummy? Was it ever hard to get through that without losing it?

RODAY RODRIGUEZ: Dulé and I have been doing this for so long, we each have our own little tricks that we use, so that we don’t ruin takes. He’ll just not look at me in a scene, and I’ll just turn everything he’s doing into warbly Charlie Brown’s teacher speak because I know it’s hysterical. I know what he’s doing is hysterical. I knew whatever he was doing with that damn doll was hysterical, but if I look at it, I’m probably gonna break and ruin the scene. So, the good news is that we’ve been doing it long enough that we know when a scene is probably gonna crack us up and we use one of our tricks to get through it, but you can hear everybody laughing from behind the monitors. It’s the most fun type of challenge that you can imagine on a movie set. It’s so funny and you’re having such a good time, but we also have to make sure that we don’t ruin a magical take because we break.

I’ve always loved the relationship between Shawn and Gus. It’s one of the best buddy duos that’s ever been on TV. What has it been like for you to have Dulé Hill there by your side? In an industry where you don’t know what your next job will be and you don’t even know how long the job that you have will last, but he’s a constant that’s always there. What has it been like to have that?

RODAY RODRIGUEZ: It’s once in a lifetime, and we both recognize that. If you just did the math, I’ve spent more time with him than I have anybody else in my adult life. Psych was an all day, every day gig, and a lot of the time, it was just two of us. Thank goodness we were built very similarly and we have lots of stuff in common. The actual friendship came very, very easily. Even beyond that, if you take friendship out of equation, we’ve had the kind of respect for one another, professionally, to make it through eight seasons and three movies and who knows what else without ever so much as having an argument. We’ve never even had any words. You hear stories about co-stars who stop speaking to each other and have to talk through a moderator. It’s gross, but it’s real. Dulé and I have managed to do it with nothing but love and mutual admiration, and respect for both ourselves and the material. It’s really special. I love that guy. I’m so thankful for the experience.

It’s just so believable and special to watch the two of you guys together.

RODAY RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, and because we also became close in real life, I think that started to inform the authenticity of some of the later years, and now definitely these movies. We’re not really acting anymore. I probably stopped mid-series. We’re just two very close friends playing close friends.

Thank you for making me laugh out loud yet again.

RODAY RODRIGUEZ: Well, I laugh out loud when I do it. It’s a testament to Steve and to the energy of this show and to the willingness of our fan base to accept us for what we are, in our weirdly little universe. It’s very simpatico. It just feels like we’re all in a giant, weird Psych-o family.

Psych 3: This is Gus is available to stream at Peacock.

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About The Author
Christina Radish (5060 Articles Published)

Christina Radish is a Senior Reporter at Collider. Having worked at Collider for over a decade (since 2009), her primary focus is on film and television interviews with talent both in front of and behind the camera. She is a theme park fanatic, which has lead to covering various land and ride openings, and a huge music fan, for which she judges life by the time before Pearl Jam and the time after. She is also a member of the Critics Choice Association and the Television Critics Association.

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