Dule Hill knew he could do comedy, but he had to convince a few people before he landed the role of Gus on “Psych” (premiering Friday at 10 p.m. on USA Network).
Hill spent seven years as the reserved Charlie on “The West Wing.”
“Once they saw that I could be lighter, then everyone was on board,” Hill said during a recent conference call with reporters.
The actor, who began his career understudying for Savion Glover in Broadway’s “The Tap Dance Kid,” said he was drawn back to series television so quickly because “Psych” gives him the opportunity to play a lead, as opposed to the “sixth lead.”
“For me, it was the writing,” Hill said. “Coming from a show where it was all based on writing, it lined up to be on par with that kind of writing. The dialogue was great between the characters and there were fully developed characters, not just one note. I thought it was a fun opportunity to do something different.”
Something different is right. Hill is far from his White House days. In the quirky series, Gus must keep in line his best friend, Shawn (James Roday), an observant man who pretends to be a psychic.
But don’t think of Gus as a typical straight man.
“Gus gets the chance to really step out and have fun and express himself. He’s really the polar opposite (of Charlie), if you ask me.”
Roday was drawn to the no-holds-barred part of his character. “Shawn is kind of a character who can get away with anything. Those kinds of characters don’t come along very often. . . . The possibilities are literally endless with this guy. No matter what he gets himself into, he’s probably going to figure a way out of it.”
To research his character, Roday met with people who consider themselves psychics.
“It’s tough these days to find psychics who admit they are fake,” he said. “I kind of asked them about what happens to them when they have visions or they sense things, so I have as many kinds of fake tools in my fake toolbox as possible. Interesting people, the psychics. Because the truth is, most of them believe wholeheartedly in their ability.”
None of his character’s skills have translated to Roday’s life.
“It took me two weeks to figure out that I actually have a microwave in my apartment,” he joked.
But Hill has a premonition about “Psych.”
“The last show I went on, I had a feeling before the show aired. I felt like the show was very good and it could do well. I have a similar feeling with this show.”