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Interview with Mark Feuerstein of "Royal Pains"
on USA Network January 18, 2011.
MEREDITH CORPORATION: Royal Pains Q&A with Mark
January 18, 2011/1:00 p.m. EST
I love this show, and yet this is the second time I've
missed getting to talk to Mark Feuerstein! Maybe next time...anyway, if
you are a fan of "Royal Pains", this is a really interesting interview
Cathy Choe Ė New Media Strategies
Mark Feuerstein Ė Dr. Hank Lawson, Royal Pains
Moderator Welcome to the Royal Pains Q&A Session with Mark Feuerstein.
At this time, all participant lines are in a listen-only mode. In just a
moment, there will be an opportunity for your questions. As a reminder,
todayís conference call is being recorded.
For opening comments, Iíd like to turn the conference over to Cathy Choe.
C. Choe Hi, good afternoon. This is Cathy Choe from New Media
Strategies. Iíd like to thank everyone for joining us for todayís Royal
Pains Q&A and start things off by thanking Mark Feuerstein for being
with us today to answer questions. As you know, Mark stars as Dr. Hank
Lawson on the hit series Royal Pains, which is returning with new
episodes on Thursday, January 20th at its new time of 9:00/8:00 central
In a moment, weíll begin the Q&A session. Iíd like to remind all
participants that you will receive a transcript of the session within
the next 24 to 48 hours. I would also like to remind everyone to please
limit yourselves to one question and one follow-up at a time and then
re-enter the question queue for any additional questions. This will
ensure that we field as many questions as possible within the allotted
I would now like to turn the call back over to our Moderator to begin
the formal Q&A session.
Moderator First, weíll go to the line of Troy Rogers with the
T. Rogers Hi, Mark.
M. Feuerstein Hey, itís great to talk to all of you. I didnít find my
moment to chime in in the middle of my fabulous introduction, but I am
always thrilled to talk to anybody about this show and itís so exciting
to be a part of a successful show and have people who actually care
about it enough to ask questions. So, take it away, Troy.
T. Rogers Well, can you talk about what you liked about how Hank is at
odds with his father and how it helps the relationship between father
and both sons?
M. Feuerstein Great question; weíre starting off with a bang. Weíre 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, ďIs there
anything youíd like to see in season two?Ē I said, ďWell, 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.Ē
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 Winklerís characteróand he is so
brilliant to have cast and so brilliant in playing the roleóyou 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 wasnít
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?
T. Rogers Well, as a follow-up, how did working with Henry bring out the
best in you as an actor, in terms of something unexpected?
M. Feuerstein Henry is always present; heís always listening as an
actor. He only wants for you to do the best work you can do, meaning
heís concerned not only for himself, and heís always great, but also for
his scene partner, so thereís this moment that I love from season two in
one of his first episodes; I think it was like the first episode he
shot. Weíre standing on the deck of Ms. Newportís house at a party sheís
throwing for her daughter. Itís like the second or third time Iíve seen
our dad out there and he just shows up at this party and Iím very
resentful and Iím very dismissive of him.
The line in the script was, ďI hope that soon youíll be able to trust
me.Ē My reaction was something like, yeah, whatever, goodbye. But when
the camera was on me and not on him, he changed the line and he said,
ďHank, I love you.Ē Instead of being able to just dismiss it, it got
this reaction out of me that was vulnerable, unexpected and much more
interesting than what had been evoked just by the words on the page,
because he just gave a much higher stakes feed into my line and thatís
the kind of actor he is.
T. Rogers Excellent. Thanks a lot, Mark.
M. Feuerstein Thank you.
Moderator Next, weíll go to the line of Pattye Grippo from Pazsaz.com.
P. Grippo Hi, Mark. Thanks for talking with us today.
M. Feuerstein Iím thrilled to be talking to Pazsaz.com!
P. Grippo Thanks. So, let me ask you, you and Paulo have this great on
screen chemistry and I was wondering how well do you get along when the
cameras arenít rolling?
M. Feuerstein I love Paulo, I truly love him. Our relationship in life
is not dissimilar to our relationship on screen. There is a lot of love
there. He is as impetuous, impulsive, brilliant, spontaneous and
creative as the character of Evan, if not more so and we joke around all
the time. If you came into the make-up trailer on any given day while
weíre getting ready for the day of work, you would see Paulo imitating
17 different characters from the crew or people who have been visiting
our set and you would see me laughing hysterically and then jumping in
and joining him.
I canít say enough about the guy and heís grown up so much over the
course of our shooting the show. Iíve been around a little longer, so to
watch him step into manhood as an actor and as Evan, they kind of go
hand-in-hand, really. Itís such a pleasure for me; Iím almost proud of
him as an older brother would be because heís become such a; heís such a
mensch to everybody on the set. Everybody loves him. Heís the class
clown who also has true heart and love for everyone around him.
P. Grippo Great. And then, as a follow-up let me ask you, you had some
really great people work with you on the show so far, is there anybody
in particular youíd like to see either come on as a guest star or in a
M. Feuerstein Thereís an actress whoís in the finale, or maybe itís the
penultimate episode this coming season, itís number 217 and she plays a
womanóthe actressí name is Julianne Nicholson. You would know her from
one of the Law & Order shows, I canít remember which one exactlyóbut she
plays a very Type A New Yorker who left the rat race and started flying
planes out in Long Island. Sheís now having the symptoms of caffeine
addiction and uppers, but sheís actually cleaned herself up.
And it turns out that thereís a sort of Ö episode happening for her and
sheís so good, I mean sheís 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. Sheís just a great actress and I feel that she upped my game in
So, that would be the person I would say Iíd love to see come back. But
also, Tom Cavanaugh, who you remember from Ed, is in our premiere
episode on Thursday night, ďMulligan,Ē and he is so charming. He plays
this ex-golfer who canít 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 thatís why heís so good and has been so successful. We were so lucky
to get him to play that part, Jack OíMalley and the chemistry between
and Jill Flint is phenomenal.
So, those are two people I would love to see back, but Iím so happy
weíre definitely going to see Henry Winkler back and Campbell Scott and
Christine Ebersole and all these other great characters that have been
so fabulous to paint this crazy eclectic world that we live in in the
P. Grippo Okay, well thank you very much.
M. Feuerstein Sure.
Moderator Next, we go to the line of Juliana Porro from
J. Porro Hi.
M. Feuerstein Hello, Pop Culture Madness.
J. Porro Hello. I was wondering, how did you prepare for your role as a
doctor on the show?
M. 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 somebodyís head and looking
into the center of who they are.
I talked to concierge doctors about who their clients are. I think
theyíre 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 arenít being met
and we have on staff on the show a doctor named Irving Danish. Heís an
emergency surgeon in Marblehead, Massachusetts. And not only is he the
onset doctor who is helping to make sure that everything weíre
performing is accurate. Heís also the doctor who is giving the writers
their ideas for the emergency situations that come up on the show, so
thereís a great synergy that happens because heís 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. Heís also the best
guy ever because if youíre suffering from something actual on set,
whether itís me getting vertigo from diving into a pool ten times in a
row or Paulo having headache, heís right there. So, there are actual
medical episodes that heís taking care of while also giving us the
brilliant fake ones.
J. Porro Great. And what would you say you and your character Hank have
M. Feuerstein Thatís a great question. I think wish more than is
actually true. But I would say the aspiration of Hank, the hope that he
is living the best life he can for who he is; I share that with Hank.
Hank is trying to do the most good for the most people where he can and
given what happened to him back in Brooklyn, he has to make do with a
new situation out in Long Island and as an actor, youíre always trying
to find the best opportunities.
I certainly have, just like Hank, my own skeletons in the closet, as my
manager would say, everything from a bad TV show here and there to a bad
audition here and there. So the name of the show this Thursday night is
ďMulligan,Ē which means, in golf terms, a do-over. And just like my
character gets a do-over in Long Island, just like Henry Winklerís
character gets a do-over I feel that as an actor Iíve been given a
do-over with Royal Pains to do it right.
And every aspect of the show feels like it was meant to be from guys Iím
working with who Iíve know from high school or who were friends of mine
that I met after college in L.A. Itís like a family of people that are
interconnected from years and years before coming to set and now on set
together we all seem to appreciate that we have something very rare and
we donít take it for granted. We pinch ourselves every day on that set
that we get to do what we do and do it in the way that we get to do it.
J. Porro Thank you.
M. Feuerstein Thank you.
Moderator Next, we go to the line of Laura Tucker from Filmmonthly.com.
L. Tucker Hi, Mark, thanks for talking with us today.
M. Feuerstein Pleasure.
L. Tucker My first question is, one of the great things about Royal
Pains is the great cliffhangers that there have been after season one
and then in the mid-season one. Is there anything you can tell us about
the upcoming cliffhanger at the end of season two?
M. Feuerstein Laura, I can tell you so much about the cliffhanger. I
could tell you everything, but I wonít because my executive producer
would not be happy with me. But I can tell you that every single one of
the dangling threads that was left open-ended at the end of this past
season will be brought to fruition, will be carried out, will be
answered in some way and then new fabulous, great, climactic questions
First of all, we have the issue of whether our father, Eddie R. Lawson,
will survive his heart attack. And then if he does survive his heart
attack, what will happen given the fact that Boris has outed him as
being an informant to the FBI. And, if he is an informant to the FBI, to
save his own ass, vis-ŗ-vis the law, what will happen with his legal
troubles? Will he be going to jail? And, if heís going to jail, will
that be with us in his corner, Evan and me, or not?
Will we write him off as just a user and the deadbeat that we always
knew he was? Then, on another front you have Evan R. Lawson, CFO,
HankMed, and Evan is in a relationship with a rich Hamptonite names
Paige, played Brooke DíOrsay. And I have to tell you the romance budding
between the two of them carried all the way through to the end of this
coming season, is one of the most delicious, adorable, poignant
relationships I have seen on television and thatís not only because of
the writing of it, but the playing of it. They have such special
chemistry and you wonít be able to stop watching. You will want to know
what happens next with the two of them.
Then, of course, thereís something all of our viewers are dying to know,
will Divya and Raj tie the knot? Divya is in an arranged marriage. Sheís
of Indian descent, as you know, and she has been set up in what seems
and feels like a merger with Raj. And they clearly are not, itís not an
in love relationship, though they may truly enjoy each other and respect
each other, and we can see it throughout this coming half a season
thatís about to start Thursday night that Divyaís heart is not
necessarily in it, but maybe it will be and maybe thereís no hope for
them. Thatís another thread that we will answer.
And then, lastly, I, Hank Lawson, am a part of a love triangle between
Jill Casey, played by Jill Flint and Emily Peck, played by Anastasia
Griffith and thereís a momentóI think Iím giving away a little too much,
but I love the moment so much I canít help myselfówhere I walk in on
Jill Casey and Emily Peck in bed together. Thatís all Iíll say, but
suffice to say it was a wonderful moment for not just an actor like me,
but a guy like me.
L. Tucker Well, that was quite a teaser for the season finale.
M. Feuerstein Thank you. I want everyone to print that exactly as it
was, even if itís 500 Web page.
L. Tucker Okay. Well, that touches my next question and actually, weíve
been bouncing around about it all day so far on this one, but when it
comes to the relationships on a show I think thatís subtly what the show
is really about. Itís not really about HankMed, itís not really about
the medical, what story lines, whatever. I think itís always about the
relationships. And thereís been a lot that the show has done so far to
explore those, especially with the addition of Henry Winkler. Now, what
relationships would you like to see explored next, perhaps in season
M. Feuerstein I love every relationship in the show that has already
been explored so much, it almost feels greedy to want more. But if I had
to say from what Iím working with currently, it would be more and deeper
of the same. So, Iíd love to see me and my brother going at it in some
conflictual way where perhaps one of us does something against the code
of brothers, which I donít know that that could ever happen on Royal
Pains because thereís something about that bond we never want to
question. But, if it did, what would happen between the two of us?
If there was a betrayal or an action taken that was questionable and,
that did sort of happen with our dad. How could Evan let him back into
our lives when I was very clear I wanted nothing to do with him, but
then it turns out to be a great thing because we have our dad back and
he really was trying, or was he, which is what weíll get into this
But I love the relationship with our dad. I hope that just continues to
have more colors. What will happen, if he does have to get in trouble
with the law and go to jail down the road? Who knows? But, if he has to
go away from us or take some trip that is an escape; whatever happens
with him Iím fascinated to see how that will affect the dynamic between
What will happen with Divya? If she has to go away with Raj or go away
to Europe without Raj, will she stay with HankMed? I donít know, but Iíd
love to see that connection questioned and threatened, but then
Iíd love to see my dynamic with Boris sort of taken to the next level,
whether itís about his medical condition and how we treat it to some
emergency situation where he and I have to actually go past the
landlord/tenant bond, which we have already because one thread I forgot
to mention is the one between Boris and Marissa, Dr. Caseras from Cuba,
and that relationship has taken a nice turn, but in coming closer
together a new wrinkle has emerged between them and thatís one that
really brings on a lot of drama and depth for that relationship.
So, I mean my longwinded way of saying more of the same, deeper of the
same and then Iím fascinated to see who the brilliant writers, led by
Andrew Lenchewski and Michael Rauch, who they will come up with this
coming season that will just add more wrinkles and more dimension to the
L. Tucker Okay, thank you.
M. Feuerstein Thank you.
Moderator And next, we go to the line of Tiffany Vogt from
T. Vogt Hi, Mark.
M. Feuerstein You are the only kind of girls I really dated.
T. Vogt Oh, nice girls, thatís good to hear, good to know about you.
M. Feuerstein Yes.
T. Vogt So, I was wondering what are the challenges you face in
M. Feuerstein The challenges I face in portraying Hank?
T. Vogt Yep. If there are any challenges.
M. Feuerstein Nah, itís nothiní, I phone it in. No, itís 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 itís
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, itís 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; Iím thinking of things like glossopharyngeal
nerve, Iím 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.
Thatís 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. Theyíre the challenges you
dream of having. When Iím 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, Iím
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.
T. Vogt Oh, thatís wonderful. So, as a follow-up question, what has been
your personal favorite episode or scene?
M. Feuerstein I think my favorite scene, and I mean itís just a moment
in acting, but it was something in me that it evoked that I think was
very personal was when I was sitting there with Henry Winkler, our
father, talking about whether or not I could let him back into my life
and he tries to explain to me that it was these hands that washed you,
that took care of you, that played with you as a child. It was these
feet that walked around carrying you and I sit there and I remember the
moment because I was conjuring the same feelings of adolescent rage that
I had as a kid and I say to him, ďWas it those feet, are those the same
feet that walked out on us?Ē
And I just love that I get to do that on a show that has so many other
facets to it, light and comedic and romantic and that I get to do it on
a network that touts itself as a Blue Sky Network where everyone is
looking pretty darned good in clean and beautiful spaces and every
episode is going to finish with a resolution that is incredibly
satisfying to our viewership, but even in that context you get to go to
a dark place and that was one of my favorite moments.
My favorite episodes, one of them was ďThey Shoot Horses, Donít They?Ē
from season one, the episode in which we were at a Hampton Classic type
of horse show. I just thought it was beautifully shot and I loved every
story in that one and I have to say this coming season, this premiere
episode is definitely one of my favorites.
T. Vogt Well, we are looking forward to it.
M. Feuerstein Thank you.
T. Vogt Thank you so much for your time today.
M. Feuerstein A pleasure.
Moderator And next, we go to the line of Shelton Wiebe with
S. Wiebe Hey, Mark.
M. Feuerstein Hello, Shelton.
S. Wiebe Iím really pleased with the premiere. I thought it was quite
M. Feuerstein Thank you.
S. Wiebe Thereís a lot of stuff set up here that tails in from last
season, not the least of which is the situation with Eddie. And youíve
talked about it a bit, but Iím just wondering with Eddie recovering from
surgery, or possibly recovering from surgery and with the potential of
jail time, how does that affect the relationships between all three?
M. Feuerstein Well, it affects the relationship between the three of us
a lot because the one thing you didnít mentioned in that complicated
scenario that you drew is that we also know he was informing on Boris to
the FBI, so first question is how much of it was just desperate saving
his own ass, while really genuinely trying to repair the damage he did
to us as kids and how much of it was the whole reason he came out there?
We donít know and thatís why I think itís so brilliant they cast Henry
Winkler because heís so sweet and so kind and loving as a person it just
makes it that much more complicated and difficult to believe he ever has
any sinister motives, though the facts may support the contrary.
But thereís also this ongoing issue throughout this coming season, who
was right? Evan, who thought he had the best intentions or me, who
thought heís full of shit and heís coming here to manipulate and find a
way to make money and that question remains to some extent throughout
and even through the end of this coming season, but I think the
endearing part is that the writers found a way, despite the
complications to bring us closer together so that you question his
motives a little less and you believe more in the bond between brothers
And itís one thing I love about being on the show is being on the subway
in Manhattan or being at an airport and fathers coming up to me saying,
ďI watch your show with my daughter, Dude, itís awesome.Ē And mothers
and daughters coming up to me and saying, ďWe watch every Thursday
night. We love it and we watch it together as a family.Ē Thereís nothing
that warms my heart more because I used to love watching TV with my
family and we have a nice message to give, which is people deserve a
second chance, that thereís no stronger bond than family and I think we
stay true to that.
S. Wiebe Cool. On a lighter note, HankMed franchising, whatís the story
M. Feuerstein HankMed, well, Iím going to offer my medical services as
Mark Feuerstein in the coming months and just see how I do. I want to
merchandise and get this brand out there on a real; no, Iím kidding. Iím
kidding, sorry, everyone. Just joshing.
I think the first bit of merchandising was the HankMed bobble heads,
which we threw out on the show and which they are selling. I canít speak
to whether or not theyíre going like hot cakes, but I also think it was
a brilliant kind of concept, not in terms of marketing for USA; I donít
know how theyíre doing for the company as a whole, any of these novelty
items that they sell.
But itís a part the flash and the spin of my brother, Evan R. Lawson,
CFO of HankMed, that he designs all this wacky merchandise and tries to
get the name of HankMed out there and somehow, as youíre watching him
print out water bottles and T-shirts and a lollipop that says HankMed on
it youíre never forgetting the name HankMed and the brand HankMed and it
indents that, it prints that on your mind as like this is our company,
this is what weíre here to do in the Hamptons.
And so, I donít know. Iím not sure Iím answering your question.
S. Wiebe I think thatís pretty good. Thanks very much for your time.
M. Feuerstein Thank you.
Moderator Next, we go to the line of Lance Carter from Daily Actor.
L. Carter Hey, Mark. How are you doing?
M. Feuerstein Iím good, Lance. How are you doing? Howís life as a Daily
L. Carter Itís all right, itís good. My first question is when you first
started the show up to now, how does your character still surprise you.
M. Feuerstein That is a great question and I would expect nothing less
from the Daily Actor. Thatís actually, Lance, the challenge of what we
do as a whole, is to surprise yourself and to allow a character whoís
already had stories told about him and similar words put in his mouth
over the course of 30 episodes to remain fresh and new.
The writers do most of that work. They are so good at changing the game
and keeping it fresh, keeping it interesting. I canít tell you how
grateful I am to have a writing staff that doesnít phone it in, that
hasnít gotten bored with it. I can only expect in season three theyíre
going to up the stakes and up the game even more for our characters.
But, as the actor playing that character, you just try to find
substitutions in your own life and the truth is your own life is never
empty of high stake situations from me, being the father of three
children and having a wife who I love very much and parents who I love
to imagine scenarios where you might, in the case of our father, Eddie
R. Lawson, might lose your father. Or, in the case of your brother might
do damage that will be irreparable.
So, itís all about getting creative in your own mind with the work of
imagining scenarios that evoke emotions that help tell the story because
often enough if we rely just on the words weíre okay because the words
do it so often. But in situations where youíre just not feeling it, you
have to find a way to, as you said, surprise yourself.
L. Carter Yeah, perfect answer, wow. And then my second question is just
in general, whatís your advice to actors?
M. Feuerstein This is a line that I sometimes feel weird because it
sounds so crass to say it, but it was something so bold of this producer
who really didnít want to help me said to me when I met with her to see
about anything that she could do, and it was that thereís no one in the
Mark Feuerstein business more than Mark Feuerstein.
And that is sort of a, I mean, I guess thereís something about that
because you have to believe that if you have a manager and an agent and
people who write for you and are rooting for you in your corner, theyíre
going to help you along the way, but I think the line is more about
taking responsibility because if you do leave it to other people to make
those phone calls on your behalf, if you donít take the risk of reaching
I mean, when I got Royal Pains, I donít want to bore you with a long
story, but Iílló
L. Carter No, absolutely.
M. Feuerstein Iíll keep it short. Basically it was a moment in my career
where I was doing a show called Masters of Horror, which wasnít my best
work, letís put it that way and I canít say I loved that. It was fine,
but I didnít love the episode I did. And it was just a moment in time
where my wife was about to have a baby, I wanted to work, earn a little
And the producer of that was a guy named Adam Goldworm who went to USC
with a guy names Andrew Lenchewski, who I had met years earlier because
his dad took out my wisdom teeth and told me I should meet with him. So,
a year after shooting Masters of Horror Iím having lunch with Adam
Goldworm, this producer who I just kind of became friends with, whether
you call it networking or not, he was a new friend and he told me, by
the way, Andrew is shooting this new pilot for USA. Isnít that great?
And I said, yeah, thatís great. Give me your cell phone, I want to
congratulate him. And I called Andrew right up and I said, ďAndrew,
first of all, I want to congratulate you on the fact that youíre making
a pilot for USA and I heard itís about a doctor to the rich and the not
so rich in the Hamptons, so second, I want to congratulate you on the
fact that Iím going to be starring in it.Ē
And it was pretty bold, but a month later, after jumping through a lot
of hoops for Bonnie Hammer, the head of many networks now at NBC
Universal, I was. And itís the greatest story of my career to date.
L. Carter I think thatís the greatest story Iíve heard.
M. Feuerstein Well, thank you.
L. Carter Thatís cool. Hey, thanks, Mark. I appreciate it.
M. Feuerstein My pleasure.
C. Choe Hi, everyone. This is Cathy Choe. In the interest of time, Iíd
like to limit everyone to one question only.
Moderator Weíll move on to the line of Mac Collins for
M. Feuerstein I mean, whatís better than TV for breakfast?
M. Collins Nothing. Nothing is better than TV for breakfast.
M. Feuerstein Do you have a little fresh OJ, a little coffee with your
TV or is it just straight TV?
M. Collins Oh, completely cereal and TV.
M. Feuerstein Okay, nice, nice.
M. Collins Thank you. Okay, my question is one of the things thatís
being hinted at from the mid-season premiere is that Hank and Evan may
be switching their stance when it comes to their father. How do you
think this will continue to affect their relationship with their father
and each other?
M. Feuerstein I think, I have an older brother. Heís two and a half
years older and he took a different path in life than I did. He went the
route of my father and my uncles. He is a very successful lawyer at a
big firm in Manhattan. Heís the head of the real estate department at
Gibson Dunn, Eric Feuerstein. And I became an actor.
Iím the wacky younger brother who went out to Los Angeles to seek fame
and fortune and Iím lucky enough to get to work and do what I love to
do. But our take on our parents is always skewed differently and our
relationship, a huge part of how we connect, is either making fun of our
parents or the way in which we choose to honor our parents and,
similarly, the way we in which we choose to love, make fun of and honor
If you heard the toast I gave my brother at his wedding, at his 30th,
his 40th birthday parties you would know that I am not afraid to cut to
the core. I am not afraid to make fun of his very Evan-like shenanigans
in life. But the fact that to me, Evan Lawson is more like my brother,
my older brother, Eric and Hank, who is the older brother, is more like
me the younger brother Ė and theyíre characters, granted Ė but I believe
thereís a fluidity to the dynamic between older and younger and
sometimes youíre the younger one and in the case of Evan and Hank,
thatís exactly right.
I may have been more the younger brother when I was so angry that I
couldnít forgive my dad for things he did 25 years ago and Evan was the
more mature one in that particular case. In every other aspect of life,
heís the more immature one and so that balance, that dynamic, is, as I
said, fluid and ever-changing on the show and I think thatís what keeps
our audience guessing and keeps it real because thatís what happens
between brothers and in a family.
M. Collins Cool. Thank you.
M. Feuerstein Sure.
Moderator And next we go to the line of Jamie Ruby with SciFiVision.
J. Ruby SciFiVision, hi, thanks for taking the call.
M. Feuerstein Sure.
J. Ruby So, can you tell us something that your fans would be surprised
to know about you?
M. Feuerstein I have an enormous tongue. There are times where I think I
could have been a body builder if there was a class just for the tongue
muscle, but thatís a story for a later day. What is something about me?
Iím not that fascinating, to be honest, but I love meditating. Thereís
something that I can give you right off the top of my head.
I love, thereís a book by a guy names Jon Kabat-Zinn called Wherever You
Go There You Are and itís one of the most profound books Iíve ever read.
Itís sort of like my new age meditative bible and though with three kids
and a TV show to shoot, I donít find the time to sit contemplatively for
20 minutes a day as often as Iíd like, but I feel that if I could I
might someday be remotely relaxed.
J. Ruby Okay, thanks. And, by the way, my grandma is a huge fan of
M. Feuerstein Tell your grandmother I send my love and hopefully weíll
see her in Miami Beach.
J. Ruby Okay, thanks.
M. Feuerstein Sure.
Moderator Next we go to the line of Rachelle Thomas with Right
R. Thomas Hi, Mark. How are you?
M. Feuerstein Iím good. How are you?
R. Thomas Good. Thanks for talking to us. I just have a couple of quick
questions, I guess. What is it that made you decide to be an actor? You
said your family were lawyers and did that business. What was it about
acting that made you decide to go your own way?
M. Feuerstein My story is kind of unique, like everyone I guess thinks
their own story is, and in high school if you had asked me what I was
going to be I was going to be a lawyer like my dad and my other uncles,
some of whom went to Harvard Law School and made a great living as
lawyers in Manhattan.
I had been very involved in all the extracurricular activities that
would get you into a good college; student politics, I was captain of
football and wrestling teams. I did well enough in school to get into a
good school, Princeton. And then I got there and I was doing all these
extracurricular activities again, thinking that when youíre apply to
Harvard Law School they care if you were able to organize a dance for
the class of í93, which, of course, they donít give a shit about.
So, at one point in my freshman year at Princeton I scrapped everything.
I said, what am I doing? I donít genuinely care about a lot of this and
I had fun in modern drama class in 11th grade reading scenes from ďCat
on a Hot Tin RoofĒ and ďA Streetcar Named DesireĒ and Chekov plays, so I
auditioned for this play on a whim.
I was on my way to football practice on the lightweight football team
and I didnít get the first part I auditioned for, but I did get the next
part, a play by Lyle Kessler, a Philadelphia playwright, called
ďOrphansĒ and it was actually, I mean the crazy synergy of life, the
luck, that I was acting with a guy names Josh Klausner, who ended up
writing the story for the movie Date Night and is a very talented writer
and director now.
And my next director was Eugene Jarecki, brother of Andrew Jarecki, who
did Capturing the Freidmans and Eugene, who he himself directed Why We
Fight and a bunch of fascinating documentaries himself, and I just
happened into the group of people who I thought were maybe the coolest
on the planet and wanted to be a little more like them and the rush of
being on stage and making people laugh and making people cry and
something about my psychosis as a second child, younger sibling, wanting
attention combined and, bam, an actor is born.
R. Thomas Thatís an amazing story. Well, I think youíre a fabulous actor
and youíre great on the show. I canít wait for the new season to start.
M. Feuerstein Thank you so much. Thatís so nice of you, thank you.
Moderator Next weíll go to the line of Brian Cantor from Headline
B. Cantor Hi, Mark. How are you?
M. Feuerstein Iím good, Brian. How are you doing?
B. Cantor Iím doing well. I got on the call late, so I hoped this wasnít
asked already, but basically, obviously, there are a few different
dimensions to the Hank character. Certainly itís good-hearted, very
straight ahead thinking, but thereís a little bit of sarcasm in there as
well and so it comes to mind when I was thinking about your appearance
on WB Raw, actually where thereís certainly that expectation that youíre
not just going to be Mark Feuerstein the actor, but also kind of
epitomizing the character that people expect from you.
What do you look to as the most defining character trait? What is the
most important characteristic that you really strive to hit when you are
kind of conveying Hank, not just on the show, but also yourself and
different media appearances, different movies or TV that you do?
M. Feuerstein Thatís a really interesting question, Brian, really
interesting. And I have to say, I was on the plane flying back to New
York with some of the actors who were at the Golden Globe Awards and one
thing they shared they didnít know how to react to Ricky Gervais because
if they laughed it might make them look like they thought it was funny
and they wouldnít know how to control the media frenzy if they thought
something truly offensive that he said was funny, but they didnít want
to take too stern a position because a) it wasnít how they felt, they
probably thought it was pretty funny and b) theyíre not on the right
wing of political correctness themselves.
So, how do we represent ourselves is a very interesting question and
Iíve never taken a class on that; I donít know how media experts would
ask you to be or tell you to be. There are two aspects; one is how you
present yourself, me, Mark Feuerstein when Iím doing an interview like
this or an interview like the Today Show this morning or some other talk
show or some nighttime talk show like the Tonight Show; each one is its
own beast, each one has its own demographic and its own audience and you
try to think of how to present yourself according to that audience, but
youíre also trying to always be you and I mean Anthony Hopkins said on
the Tonight Show once that the greatest challenge in acting Ė and I
believe the greatest challenge in life Ė is to just be relaxed, in
addition to doing the right thing and all the challenges that life can
present, to be relaxed, to be calm.
And for me itís an ongoing battle, just to stay in my own skin with my
head on my shoulders and take a breath and not only appreciate where I
am, but just literally to be where I am, going back to that book,
Wherever You Go There You Are; you want to be present for your life.
So, when I was on Raw hosting I mean I really was having the time of my
life. If I looked like a dandy from some musical film from the 50s, some
Fred Astaire movie, like Donald OíConnor or something, that was just a
fact of my being truly happy dancing down the red carpet into the ring
with the big show, having been a wrestler in high school, it was a dream
come to true to host Raw.
Could I have done it a little more cool and kept it a little more close
to the vest? Sure, but thatís just not how I do it. I just go with
whatever the emotion is of the moment and itís gotten me to where I am
and I donít hope to change that. I am who I am and to the extent that it
doesnít offend anyone, I hope to remain that.
B. Cantor Absolutely. You also worked with WB on Knucklehead, so whatís
it been like working with that organization just in general?
M. Feuerstein That organization is like the Pentagon of corporate
entertainment endeavors. They are so organized. Vince McMahon runs a
tight ship. They know their business. Big Show was the first one on the
set of Knucklehead to admit he doesnít know about acting, he wants to
learn from me. I gave him as much advice as I could.
He called me one day, having been broken down by a scene where he breaks
down and cries. He could stop the emotions from flowing and I was there
to advise him and help him and he was like an innocent child. But you
step into the ring with that man and itís like step aside, take a seat,
take a knee, Iím going to tell you how itís going to go. And he knows
his business and it goes that way up the food chain to Vince McMahon,
who is sitting like the Wizard of Oz in the back of the booth behind the
stage calling every shot that goes on.
In that Raw show that I did, in every Raw and Slamfest or whatever the
names are for all the different shows, the Wrestlemanias, he is the man.
And it was fascinating to watch it and I think the business model they
set up for making movies is fascinating. Theyíre sort of running like a
TV show operation.
They have the same crew, same soundstages in New Orleans, where they get
a big tax break, and theyíre hoping to finish, and I believe they will,
with the help of their leading man Mike Pavone out there, eight movies
over the course of maybe three or four years for some number of like $60
million, $70 million, who knows, and I think theyíre probably doing okay
with DVD sales and stuff that it continues to be profitable, but I
really have no idea how itís doing.
I just think itís interesting that wherever he goes he writes his own
book on how to do it, thatís Vince McMahon. Heís a pioneer. He took over
the entire wrestling business and has a monopoly on it, pretty much, and
itís just sort of a fascinating business example of how to run the show.
B. Cantor Well, great. I really appreciate the time, Mark. Thanks.
M. Feuerstein Yes, sure.
C. Choe Ladies and gentlemen, we have time for one last question.
Moderator And itís from the line of Colleen Pinto from the
VoiceofTV.com. Please go ahead.
M. Feuerstein How fitting that we will end with the Voice of TV.
C. Pinto I feel so powerful now.
M. Feuerstein You are.
C. Pinto What have you learned, like from the medical aspect of the
M. 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 thereís 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 ďShineĒ
at this huge dinner party.
But in that episode Iím talking to Jill, who is taken with this
character played by Will Chase, a character named Ben, and I say, ďThe
guyís 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,Ē
and I think thatís the most significant message that Hank brings to the
table in the show, Royal Pains, as a whole.
Itís 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,
thereís 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 thatís a word, in ignorance about your own
health and hope that youíre 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.
C. Pinto All right, well thank you so much.
M. Feuerstein Sure.
C. Choe Ladies and gentlemen, that will conclude todayís session. Iíd
like to once again thank Mark for joining us and remind everyone to tune
into new episodes of Royal Pains beginning this Thursday, January 20th
at its new time 9/8 Central on the USA Network. Thanks, again, and enjoy
the rest of the day.
M. Feuerstein Guys, thank you very much. Those were great questions. I
really appreciate it.
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