[Photo: © 2009 FOX Broadcasting Co.]
As promised, here’s the entire conference call interview that took place yesterday with John Francis Daley, who plays Dr. Lance Sweets on Bones. You’ll be able to tell that he is vary charming and hade some cute jokes during the discussion too. I hope you enjoy it:
Question: I’m just wondering if your current role is basically Sam all grown up.
J. Daley: One might argue that. I think Lance is definitely more book smart than Sam was and I don’t know if Sam would have gotten into psychology, probably the same thing that Paul Feig got into since the character is 99% based on him. But definitely some similarities in the geekiness and general likeability and handsomeness in both characters.
Question: I enjoy the show very much and I liked Freaks and Geeks, too, but I’m just wondering if Sam would have made a really challenging patient for Dr. Sweets.
J. Daley: Yes, I think it would have been many sessions to get past this year’s bullies.
Question: So in the episodes that aired a couple weeks back we learned a little bit about Sweets’ sort of family background, including that he apparently comes from carnie folk. When they gave you that information did you ask what use you were supposed to make of it as an actor?
J. Daley: I had to take a step back and sort of rethink my whole character. No, honestly I’ve no idea what they’re intending to do with my character in terms of that, but I’m very interested to see because not many times you can say that you have a character that comes from a family of carnies.
Question: What other information do you have about Sweets’ background that is going to be disseminated in the episodes to come?
J. Daley: I know that we do sort of learn a little more about his growing up in foster care and of whatever happened to him before he was adopted. I can’t really go into specifics because it’s ultimately speculative on my part as well. But from what I can gather from the upcoming episode I think we are going to learn where he came from and what secrets he’s hidden along the way.
Question: Readers would like to know more about what you’re working on outside of the show, for example what’s happening with your band Dayplayer and the screenplay you’ve been working on?
J. Daley: The band I’m with is, we’re starting up again this year. Everyone was out of town in various countries traveling the world and learning whatever they need to learn to become better musicians. I was just working on Bones. And in terms of the writing, they’re going to actors and directors right now with our magician movie, Bert Dickinson. We’re doing a rewrite on The $40,000 Man and in development with the Hours of Fun movie that my writing partner Jonathan Goldstein and I are working on for Disney and Scott Rudin. So they’re all in just various stages of development or pre-production as it were. So fingers crossed that one of them will become an actual movie.
Question: Also since your father’s a veteran of Broadway, has that influenced your career in any way?
J. Daley: I feel like it absolutely has. When I was young and living in New York, over the weekends I would go with my dad to where he worked, whatever show it would be. I’d be backstage basically doing my homework in that amount of time and so I was surrounded by it at a very young age and it was something that I had immediately become fascinated with and wanted to learn more about until that fateful day when I was nine years old and asked my parents for an agent. That’s sort of where it all started.
Question: One of the running jokes of the show has been your incredibly young good looks. Can you talk about it? Is that something you just roll with, because you are young, obviously, but do you just roll with that or are there roles that you’ve missed out because people just said you look twelve?
J. Daley: I’m still not getting any roles for anyone’s grandfather or father, for that matter unless I have some weird Benjamin Button condition. But, no, so far the roles that I’ve been going out for are basically my age or a little younger. I definitely still have the youthful look, which many actors are thankful for and I am as well.
Question: I was wondering if there’s anything new coming up in Dr. Lance Sweet’s character that you could tell us about in the next few episodes?
J. Daley: Absolutely. My character helps the team find out who the Gravedigger is in this next episode where Booth gets captured. And I profile, when they do find out who it is, I profile that person and help them to find information that will set Booth free. And I also have a fun little session with Dr. Brennan where she basically asks me to teach her how to interrogate people in the interrogation room.
So I help her detect the subtleties of human emotions and expressions and teach her the simplest things that most people already know, but because Dr. Brennan thinks in a sort of different way, it’s all new to her. I teach her when someone is being angry or sad or submissive and hilarity ensues.
Question: Is there a lot of Sweets in you and a lot of John in Sweets or is it almost like when you play the role you’re putting on a Sweets costume?
J. Daley: In some ways I am. I feel like Sweets is one of those characters where he’s very intelligent and has managed to work his way up the career ladder at an incredibly rapid pace, but at the same time he’s still 22 or 23 years old so we see traces of his youthfulness in the psychological mumbo jumbo that he’s usually spouting. So I would say that in those glimpses of his youth that is where I sort of come out as just myself.
Otherwise I think that he is definitely trying to restrain that side of him and try to stay the most professional, respected person as he can be because it’s the only way he can get his colleagues to listen to him seriously.
Question: Is it true that a lot of the little remarks that Booth hurls at Sweets in therapy is stuff that just comes out of David’s brain on the spot?
J. Daley: Oh, yes. But I would say that for most of the scenes that David’s in. He definitely has a knack for that, rattling off new and interesting things.
Question: Not just your lines, but everybody’s lines.
J. Daley: I would say so, yes, absolutely. It always makes doing scenes with David really fun because I think people are encouraged to not ad lib so much as give their own sort of flavor to the character and sometimes that involves ad libbing, doing things you wouldn’t normally expect from the character.
Question: Can you give me Sweets’ psychological assessment of the Gravedigger?
J. Daley: I don’t want to give too much away, but I know the Gravedigger is a very tough nut to crack.
Question: There’s a good comedic vibe between Sweets, Booth and Brennan. In addition to that, what do you like about the character?
J. Daley: Aside from that vibe where he’s constantly trying to get through to these people that don’t seem to take him very seriously, he is someone that is very, very stubborn and determined to be proven right even if he’s wrong. And that makes it funny because you see that this character is really willing to do anything to get respect and usually when someone is willing to do anything for respect they lose all respect to begin with.
Question: So if you’re willing to do anything for respect, can we expect to see some upcoming episodes where he gets his eyebrows singed off?
J. Daley: A la Kitchen Confidential? You never know. With this show you never know…
Question: Is it a matter of Sweets trying to get that respect that he’s pushing Booth’s buttons so hard over the last couple of episodes?
J. Daley: He also sees something in Booth that hasn’t yet been revealed at least to him and he is waiting for Booth to basically let it all out. And if that means Sweets getting punched by Booth so be it, but I think that it’s definitely something that he will not give up on. He’s going to constantly push and push to get what he wants out of Booth.
Question: Wanted to ask you about how your role sort of grew to become one of the regular ones on the show and what that process was like for you?
J. Daley: I started as a guest star on the show. The first episode that I read was the one where we first see me in my office talking to Booth and Brennan and basically learning about their chemistry for the first time. And it was a very interesting episode for me because I’ve never played anyone with such a demanding profession before. I’ve played a chef and a leader, but never someone that works for something as elite as the FBI.
So it was interesting to have that combination of high stakes with his still coming into maturity and have to deal with all that as a 22 year-old. That’s something I was immediately attracted to and I heard that there was interest in having me come on as a regular. When I heard about that I was very pleased because I’d immediately gotten very attached to the cast and the crew, such an amazing group of people to work with and very rarely can you say that completely honestly these days. But everyone is just a delight.
So when I did find out that I was going to be a regular I was happy to know that I would be continuing to work with these people that are just so great to work with.
Question: What do you think it’s going to take for Sweets to gain Booth and Brennan’s full respect or do you think that can ever happen?
J. Daley: I think it’s always possible. I think they do even respect him, but they have never told him to his face and I don’t know if they ever will. But it would have to take something like him taking a bullet for them probably to gain their full respect up front.
Question: I’m calling from Chicago. I read that you were born in suburban Chicago.
J. Daley: Yes, Wheeling, Illinois.
Question: How long did you live here?
J. Daley: I lived in Chicago for only two years before my dad joined the national tour of Cats. That got me traveling all across this nation of ours until finally ending in New York. But I still have family out there. My mom’s side of the family is still out there so I visit every year. It’s very dear to my heart.
Question: I was wondering if you’re ever going to get to use your Kung Fu skills on the show?
J. Daley: I’d love to before they completely leave. It’s been a while since I’ve practiced, but it’s something that I think, it’s like riding a bike, you can get back into it. I can be a deadly killing machine yet again.
Question: If you ever get out into the action.
J. Daley: You never know. We’ve had glimpses of him sort of joining in these adventures in later episodes so I’d say it’s a great possibility. It would be a lot of fun for me.
Question: Then I was wondering if Sweets and Brennan are ever going to sort of connect because of the foster care thing.
J. Daley: That’s what it seems like might happen because they do share that and I don’t think we’ve seen necessarily a major connection between the two of them on an emotional level in terms of their past experiences. So that definitely seems like something that the writers will explore in later episodes.
Question: Since you started playing this role do you find yourself analyzing friends and family?
J. Daley: Probably no more than I already did. Yes, you definitely start to hear yourself repeating phrases that you use on the show and I know that can’t be very fun for my friends. But the more annoyed by me as a person they are, the more it will help my character. So it’s all for the work.
Question: An actor once told me that one of the things he looks for in a character is a great name and that once he has a great name he’s already halfway home in figuring out what his character is about. Do you feel that way with a character named Sweets?
J. Daley: It is about the goofiest name, character name, that I’ve ever had or the goofiest until I do some cartoon. Yes, it definitely puts an image of a person in your mind I would say. When you say the name out loud and I think that my character has probably his entire life tried to display the exact opposite of that image that you think of when you think of that name. It’s probably something that he’s been teased about all his life and hey, maybe the name is what got him into psychology to begin with.
Question: Readers are very curious about whether Sweets will ever try to get Zack out of the mental hospital now that Zack has admitted he didn’t actually kill anyone. Do you know if there’s anything like that in the works?
J. Daley: I honestly have no idea. I haven’t been told about what will happen with Zack, but that would be very interesting if he did and I know that Sweets probably has some grief in terms of keeping that incredibly heavy secret to himself that Zack in fact didn’t kill anyone.
Question: Just wondering if Dr. Sweets is able to relax by playing the piano like the actor who portrays him?
J. Daley: You never know. I don’t know yet if that will come to be, but I know that Hart [Hanson], the creator, does know that I play and knowing how he uses peoples’ actual abilities outside of the show in the show it would not be something that would be unlikely.
Question: Do you think that would be a special pleasure, a special delight for your mom?
J. Daley: Absolutely. It would be like the biggest recital in the world.