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Interview: Emily Deschanel and Hart Hanson from ‘Bones’

Interview: Emily Deschanel and Hart Hanson from ‘Bones’


We had the pleasure of talking with Emily Deschanel (Brennan) and Hart Hanson (Creator) from Fox’s ‘Bones’. They talked with us about the upcoming season finale, next season, and what they do in their spare time.

What kind of impact is this going to have between Booth and Bones? And this question is for Hart Hanson: …

Hart Hanson: Oh, of course it is. We had an interesting dilemma this year, which we sort of had two big finale type shows this year, because we wanted the 100th episode to ring on the Booth and Brennan relationship. And then low and behold, the season finale has to live up to that or at least be as interesting we hope as the 100th. And I think we were fairly successful in getting an interesting episode out of our 100th episode.

So I guess, Emily Deschanel: , you have to interrupt me if I start to blab too much, but it’s like I think our season ender in its own way has as much impact on the future of the show as the 100th episode did. Was that oblique enough?

Emily Deschanel: But I think what happens in both of those episodes are as impactful for their relationship, or the season finale, what happens in the season finale is as impactful for their relationship as the 100th episode was I think. And I think there’s a lot to live up to after the 100th episode I think. And I think that Hart Hanson: did a really good job writing the script and I was not to answer this question, but I’m just going to keep on talking.

Hart Hanson: You’re good at it.

The 100th episode certainly had a big impact on fans. I’ll say that as well, not only the show, but with the fans too.

Hart Hanson: Yes. We definitely hear from our fans. I’ve talked to a few other show runners and I think we have the noisiest, most involved fans. If my experience is any indication and they certainly do not shy away from commenting. I don’t know how everyone else feels, but I see that as a very, very positive thing, even when I’m getting hollered at.

Emily Deschanel: Well, I think it’s a positive thing too. It means that people care, even if they disagree with something, I appreciate people caring so much. But Hart Hanson: definitely has more experience with the fans directly than I do, because he is a tweeter, twitters. He’s on twitter.

Hart Hanson: Be careful, Emily Deschanel: .

Emily Deschanel: He tweets, he’s twittering, he’s sort of something. So you get like a direct-

Hart Hanson: Oh, boy.

Emily Deschanel: -line to the fans.

Hart Hanson: Yes.

Now that it’s been quite a few seasons of the show and it’s in season 6 coming up, how do you see the evolution of Brennan?

Emily Deschanel: I think that you’ve seen through the seasons Brennan opening up a lot more. She’s definitely had a hard time socially with people and knowing what to say and to be sensitive to other people’s feeling and where they’re coming from. I think that’s one reason why she chose science as a field and I think she’s put up a lot of walls because of being abandoned as a child, and what she went through believing their parents were dead or missing, as well as her brother leaving her. I think that the walls are starting to come down.

And you’ll even see at the end of the season, her questioning her field, solving murders. It’s a pretty huge thing that she’s even thinking about that, because I think it’s something that she’s chosen to escape into. I think it’s mainly from her relationship with Booth, who has opened her up and encouraged her to be more sociable, have a – I guess – a higher social intelligence … which is fun to discover this character learning how to interact with people and I think she’s gotten better. She’s still the same person, she still has difficulty, but she’s making improvements for sure.

We have to talk about the season finale, because the last two years you have had controversial finales. Fans have definitely had a very loud say about what went down. Do you anticipate a similar reaction this year?

Hart Hanson: I anticipate a reaction, that’s for sure. I guess the short answer is, yes, this is what we do. We try to keep everyone interested and a season finale is a very good place and the natural place to change the direction of a series, and the 5th season, you got to do that. Yes, I think there will be some, I hope there will be some noise about it, otherwise we’ll just go generally into that good night, which would be a shame.

Emily Deschanel: But may I just say that it is very different from last season’s finale, as this episode is very much a Bones episode; whereas that episode took place in an alternate reality. So people who didn’t like that aspect of that episode, which I thought was a lot of fun to do as an actor and I think it was a really interesting episode to do. But I know people made noise about it, because it was alternate reality and all that. This is definitely not in an alternative reality, can I say that?

Hart Hanson: Oh, yes. This is the real Bones world.

Emily Deschanel: Yes, this is definitely, this fits into that, but there’s huge, huge things that happen in the episode that does change the course of kind of everyone in-

Hart Hanson: The whole gang.

Emily Deschanel: The whole gang. It’s funny how subtle things can change people, but it changes people.

Do you think there might be a season finale in the future where you don’t have a controversy among the fans?

Hart Hanson: No, then I’d have to quit my job. I hope not. Boy, if that happens you’ll let me know and then I’ll have to turn it over to someone else.

This is for Hart Hanson: mostly, what’s the story behind Billy Gibbons as Angela’s dad? Are you a ZZ Top fan? Did you initially want him specifically or just any iconic rock star and was it hard to get him to play along?

Hart Hanson: I always knew that Angela’s dad, I always knew that Angela Montenegro was not Angela’s real name, and I always knew that she had a rock star dad. Because it’s just funny to me that the guys I idolized as a kid are all now grandfathers … I didn’t know who it would be. And when you start going through the list of rock stars who are instantly recognizable, you don’t have to say, “Hey, my gosh, look at that, it’s the lead singer of Journey,” or something.

It’s a very, very small group of people. I made a list of about five people who I wouldn’t have to explain who they were. Now, not everybody knows Billy Gibbons name, but they would call him ZZ Top with that beard and things, and he responded. He was on that very short list and he responded. This man was Jimmy Hendrix’s favorite guitar player when he was 19 years old. He’s an amazing, amazing person. So I selfishly used the fact that I had a TV series to meet one of my idols, and then he turned out to be a really interesting actor. It’s still to me one of the great thrills of the show to have Billy Gibbons appear from time-to-time on our show when he’s not touring the world being a huge rock star.

Right. I know that sometimes the lines between reality and television get blurred. Do people ever make the mistake of believing that he’s Michaela’s dad?

Hart Hanson: Yes.

Emily Deschanel: Yes.

Hart Hanson: Because we never really say who he is. We never identify him. In the scripts, we just call him Billy F. Gibbons or the Reverend Willie G from time-to-time. But within the dialogue, and no one has ever said, “Hey, your dad’s the lead guitar player and singer and songwriter for ZZ Top.” No one ever says that, he just appeared, and is that guy. Yes, people have often asked if there’s truth there, and no, he’s playing himself, but he’s playing a different version of himself, and he’s not actually. I’m sure Michaela’s father would like me to say that Billy Gibbons is not her father.

Emily Deschanel: He told me that people that he knows, who he knows personally, believes that he is her father.

Hart Hanson: Yes, they do …

Emily Deschanel: And he didn’t correct them, because he just thought it was so funny that they believed that from the show.

Hart Hanson: Yes. Then of course, Billy is a good actor, because when the camera is not going, he looks at Michaela who is an incredibly beautiful woman, the way that a rock star would look at an incredibly beautiful woman. And then we yell action and then he has to be fatherly. He’s a better actor than people give him credit for.

So you’ve said several times that this season now is going to be a game changer, but what will we get closer on in these last few episodes, whether it’ll be the Grave Digger or Page 187 or otherwise?

Hart Hanson: Page 187. Let’s see, what do you think, Emily Deschanel: ? I don’t think there’s a lot of closure.

Emily Deschanel: Yes, there isn’t a lot of closer.
Hart Hanson: We know we’re going into season 6.

Emily Deschanel: Maybe the Grave Digger, there’s some closure there.

Hart Hanson: Yes, there’s some closure and some not closure.

Emily Deschanel: Yes.

Hart Hanson: Closure is not the word I would use as we barrel forward into season 6. What do you think, Emily Deschanel: ?

Emily Deschanel: Agreed. I think it’s overrated, we don’t need closure. We’ve got a whole other season at least to go.

Hart Hanson: That’s right, that’s right.

Well, we had a little closure with Angela and Hodgins’ marriage, I’d say. Was that sort of your way of throwing these impatient fans like a bone, like okay, you can have this one?

Hart Hanson: No, I don’t think of it that way. We’ve always known that Hodgins and Angela belong together. I just thought we’d do it not in a season finale. We’d already done them getting married in a season finale. And I thought, let’s just pop it in when no one’s expecting it, that these two will get back together. The scene where they talk about how they broke up has existed since they broke up. It wasn’t in a jail cell, I didn’t know where it would happen, but that scene has existed and has been written for a long time where they realized how they let each other go. And it just felt like the right time to get them back together. I do sometimes think of the Hodgela, the Hodgela, the Hodgins/Angela relationship as a-

Emily Deschanel: Oh, you just coined a phrase.

Hart Hanson: – like a steam valve. It lets off some pressure, but it’s not small beer. It’s, it’s own story and we wanted to go into season 6 now with them married, that’ll be fun.

And it was a lot of fun watching, it was very unexpected, so kudos on that.

Hart Hanson: Good, I’m glad we caught you unawares.

Okay. The season 4 finale, you kind of talked a little bit about it, like indicated that Max and Jared might be connected with the Grave Digger. I know Ryan O’Neal is in that episode, is he really just there for moral support like the promo indicated? I mean, he always has his hands both on the side of good and the side of not so good. What can you tell us about that?

Hart Hanson: Boy, what do you think, Emily Deschanel: ? I would say he’s not there just for moral support, how’s that, Emily Deschanel: ?

Emily Deschanel: Yes, I think that’s accurate.

Hart Hanson: It’s a bit more than that, but he is a mysterious and multifaceted character, Max is. And he’s not an onlooker at heart.

Emily Deschanel: No, never an onlooker.

Hart Hanson: … Boy, I don’t want to say anymore than that, that’s a good question.

Okay. The follow up then, at the beginning of the season 6 premiere will Booth and Brennan both be in Washington DC?

Hart Hanson: I’m not going to answer that.

Sarah Oh, come on.

Emily Deschanel: Yes.

Hart Hanson: We will not start season 6 without Booth and Brennan working together. I’m not willing to say that they’ll be in DC.

Hart Hanson: I’m not willing to say they won’t be.

Emily Deschanel: Let’s just say he hasn’t written it yet.

Hart Hanson: … Anytime I did give any amount of spoilers, I get hollered at by people who invent their own story off of what I say, and then they yell at me as though I came up with the story. So I’m gun shy, but there, there’s my answer.

This question is for either I guess, whoever wants to, but are we going to revisit Brennan’s wish to have a baby?

Emily Deschanel: We were just discussing that yesterday, weren’t we, Hart Hanson: ?

Hart Hanson: At lunch. We were discussing it at lunch.

Emily Deschanel: Yes. We had lunch yesterday and we were discussing many things, but that was one thing that came up.

Hart Hanson: That was one of the things that-

Emily Deschanel: Do you want to take that, answer that question?

Hart Hanson: The short answer is yes. I always found it interesting that Brennan’s interest in having a baby faded when the possibility of Booth being the father faded. I always thought that said something about her and her relationship. The fast answer is yes, we will revisit that facet of Brennan in season 6.

And for Emily Deschanel: , if there’s one character trait you could give Brennan, what would you give her?

Emily Deschanel: Oh, that’s so interesting. The things that you think of immediately like being more socially aware and things like that, I don’t know if that would be helpful to just give somebody. I think it’s better for someone to learn, maybe slowly, but to learn themselves how to grow in that way. Yes, I don’t know if I would give, I think that life lessons come from learning how to either accept your limitations or to grow as a person and strengthen things that you have or learn new skills. I think that that builds character, so I don’t know if I would just give her something, but I don’t know.

Hart Hanson: If I were you I’d say have the power of invisibility, but that’s just me.

Emily Deschanel: I know, well, she said character trait, not like super power.

Hart Hanson: I wasn’t listening to the question.

Emily Deschanel: I immediately went to super powers in my mind, and then I was like, that wasn’t really the question. Invisibility is kind of often just generally for anyone to have that. Although it can be dangerous, you can walk into a room and hear people talking about you and that can be painful.

Hart Hanson: Yes.

Emily Deschanel: But you could solve crimes maybe better.

Is there going to be any future nemesis story arcs coming?
Hart Hanson: Yes, and if you watch the second to last episode of this season, you’ll have a glimmer of that.

Emily Deschanel: Oh, yes.

Where do you see the end game of the show, like is there a final destination you want the characters to go to, to end the show?

Hart Hanson: Emily Deschanel: ?

Emily Deschanel: Morocco.

Hart Hanson: Yes.

Emily Deschanel: Because I just want to go there, you know. I know it’s silly, it’s a selfish thing.

Hart Hanson: I have a group of scenes written on my computer that are the end of Bones. Whether or not those actually become the end of Bones, I don’t know. They’ve lasted so far from the second season. But a TV series is very, very organic, it goes where it wants to go, you can just kind of steer it, and give it nudges. There’s so many things involved in it, but I do know the ending of Bones.

Again, one of the things Emily Deschanel: and I were talking about yesterday, is how long will Bones go? How long do we have? We’re going into our 6th season, are we a 7 season show, are we a 6 season show, are we a 10 season show? That will all change as we try and gage that – how we do – as to what the ending of Bones is. I know that sounds oblique, but I do know where it’s going, it’s just how many steps that are between now and then there are I don’t know.

Emily Deschanel: I didn’t, that’s news to me. So if someone knows how to hack into our computer-

Hart Hanson: Why would I tell you, it might all change.

Emily Deschanel: Oh, it might change, yes.

Hart Hanson: Yes.

Emily Deschanel: If someone knows how to hack into Hart Hanson: ‘s computer, then …

Hart Hanson: Would if somebody has a better idea than I have, it’s happened.

Emily Deschanel: , in the notes they sent us says you’re working with a charity called Farm Sanctuary, can you tell us about why that’s important to you?

Emily Deschanel: Oh, yes. Farm Sanctuary is the largest farm animal sanctuary in the world and the United States as well understandably. It’s important to me, I became a vegan, I became a vegetarian and then a vegan.

Gerry Are you now?

Emily Deschanel: I became a vegan 17 years ago after watching a documentary about beef, the state of factory farms in the United States. And the more I learned about it, the more I was horrified, and how I didn’t want to be a part of that. One way I removed myself from participation and the cruelties that go on is that I became vegan. And another is involving myself with organizations like Farm Sanctuary, which does incredible work.

They do outreach, they work to pass legislations like proposition 2 in California, and coming up in Ohio, there’s going to be a ballot initiative in November this year. Very similar, where it bands battery cages for chickens, gestation crates for pigs, and veal crates, very similar to California.

So they do political work, they do outreach, they do education, and they also are a sanctuary for animals, and it’s an amazing place to visit. If anyone’s ever in northern California or I guess it’s mid-to-northern California in Orland, California, and then Watkins Glen in New York, they’re beautiful places and you get to know these animals that are incredible and you wouldn’t want to eat them again. So that’s my little two cents on that.

Were you looking for something very different for Bones or your hiatus, because I read about the role, The Perfect Family, that you’re going to do, that you’re playing the pregnant lesbian daughter of Kathleen Turner, which sounded way different than Bones.

Emily Deschanel: Yes, very different. I’ve been looking for something worthwhile of my time off for many years since doing the show, and it’s hard to find something that fits into the schedule that you love. My time off is so precious, because we do work long hours on our show, and having that time off is really, really enjoyed. So to find something that you feel worthwhile doing is hard, especially some years we’ve had just a month off, sometimes we’ve had two months off, sometimes we’ve had three. It depends on the year. So finding something that fits in that people want you to be in, it’s hard, but it’s different.
People want me to play a doctor or something like that, which I’m not going to never play a doctor again or say something like that, but I wanted to definitely do something as different from Bones as possible. And I think I found something that’s very different.

I’ve been in rehearsals, I start this week. I’m very excited. I love working with Kathleen Turner, so far. She’s just a fantastic lady and such a talented actress who’ve I admired from way back when, and it’s just a dream come true to work with her. The script is great and I’m enjoying working with the doctor, so I’m excited.

I know you guys probably don’t have a lot of control over time slots, but are you hoping maybe you get to stick at Thursday at 8:00 for awhile, because the numbers are good, and I think the fans like having you there? What do you think?

Hart Hanson: We have been so grateful to have Thursdays at 8:00, even though it’s a tough time slot. We’re very, very happy to be there, and yes we do hope to stay there. And I have been assured by the network that we will stay there. Now they don’t always keep those promises, and not because they’re liars, it’s just things change, and the schedule changes, but so far we’re back at Thursday at 8:00. It’s a good pairing with Fringe and I do hope we stay there.

I’ve always wished that we could have a kick at one of those nice fat 9:00 slots to see how we would do, but we are doomed to be a launch pad, an 8:00 show. So we accept it with good grace and it’s a pretty good slot for us.

With 24 ending, there’s a lot of talk about their big screen movie. Any thoughts on a future version of Bones, either of you?

Hart Hanson: It’s such a nebulous idea that really the real answer is no. It comes up every once in awhile as something we might do. It was even more talked about when we thought we’re a four or five year show. It’s like then maybe we could do a movie. I think it would be a lot of fun to do a movie, and I think our actors are up to it and up for it, but so far we’re still really, really busy making a television show. But I hope someday we get a chance to do that, it would be really fun.

Emily Deschanel: That would be fun.

I wanted to ask you guys a little bit about the Grave Digger episode that’s coming up. That’s a character that freaks me out personally. The idea of being buried alive. And I wondered how are the characters handling it emotionally that they’re encountering this person again?

Hart Hanson: There you go, Emily Deschanel: .

Emily Deschanel: Yes, I mean, let me just say that the whole episode begins with Brennan’s nightmare. Am I aloud to say that? I already did, I’ll stop there.

Hart Hanson: Yes, you can.

Emily Deschanel: Brennan is having nightmares about this, so it is affecting her deeply. And like I said it’s part of the reason why she’s questioning the whole murder business, so it affects her deeply. I don’t want to speak for other characters.

Hart Hanson: It’s pretty tough on Hodgins too.

Emily Deschanel: Oh, yes, very tough on Hodgins.

Hart Hanson: Yes.

Emily Deschanel: I think the two of us mostly, because we were the ones buried alive by the Grave Digger, and then Booth was as well, but we seem to take it harder.

Hart Hanson: Well, and also, Booth was buried alive in a much nicer place to be buried alive. He had a whole ship to run around.

Emily Deschanel: It’s true, it’s true, good point, Hart Hanson: , good point.

Hart Hanson: Yes.

I see, so there are varying levels of terror-

Hart Hanson: Yes.

-depending on where you’re buried.

Hart Hanson: Yes.

Emily Deschanel: He had a bomb there, but it just doesn’t seem as scary-

Hart Hanson: Yes.

Emily Deschanel: -when you’ve got a lot of space.

Hart Hanson: It’s not as scary. I’d rather be blown up than buried alive.

Emily Deschanel: Me too, me too.

Hart Hanson: Yes.

Emily Deschanel: Let me just say for the record, I said on a talk show that one of my biggest fears is being buried alive, and then one of the next scripts I got was the Grave Digger episode. And they swear that they wrote the episode before I went on the air, but I don’t know.

I see how that works now. I’m really appreciating hearing the two of you and your give and take, and now we see another instance of that, so thanks.

Hart Hanson: Emily Deschanel: …

Emily Deschanel: We like working together.

I know you guys put in long hours, so what do you do when the camera is not rolling to kill the time in between?

Emily Deschanel: Wow. There’s not a lot of in between time like film, but I do have breaks here and there. I personally on my breaks I learn my lines for the next day, so I don’t know if that’s taking time away from work. I don’t know, do you have like hobbies, Hart Hanson: ?

Hart Hanson: No, gosh, no. If I’m not writing, I’m reading. My year extends longer than Emily Deschanel: ‘s, and she has a more brutal schedule when we’re shooting. She has an irregular schedule. She can’t just go to bed at 11:00 at night like a normal person. I made a pilot this year and I thought I’m getting too old for this. This is too much work doing Bones and a pilot.

It’s hard to complain about our jobs. We’re great, incredibly fortunate to be doing the jobs we do, but it’s long hours and it seems to be all consuming. You just try and get some break time. I mean I have a family I would like to spend more time with, not much is the answer.

Emily Deschanel: We both work on our time off basically is what we’re saying.

Hart Hanson: Yes. Emily Deschanel: goes off and does a movie and I think she’s insane. I would go home and sleep.

Emily Deschanel: Well you did a pilot this year.

Hart Hanson: I know, that was insane.

Emily Deschanel: Look who’s talking.

I know you’ve just been talking about taking time off and having a break, but I was wondering when are you going to start thinking about the next season or is it something you’ve already kind of planned out ahead?

Hart Hanson: Well, we’re very well into it. There are actually six scripts that exist for next season and eight stories, including those six scripts, so we’re well into it. Last season as I was writing the season finale, the writer’s room was turning out the stories for next season. We’re quite a machine. We’re well into it, and the writers now are all off. They’ve got their hiatus. They have about a month off and we have scripts in hand.

We saw The Family Guy crossover in the fourth season, so is there any chance of another crossover happening at any stage or any shows you’d like to crossover with?

Hart Hanson: Crossovers comes up all the time as a possibility. For a while we were talking about doing a Lie to Me crossover. I’ve always thought a Fringe crossover could work if we started at the same crime scene. But really it’s so difficult to arrange crossovers, because somehow the two shows have to come to an agreement on a time and a place and all those things. And most of us quite honestly are doing everything at a flat out run, just trying to get a show to the air. And with Lie to Me, Shawn Ryan had just taken over the show when we started talking about it, and he had his hands full. We did the little crossover with Stewie from Family Guy- It was a lucky fortuitous thing. We’d done this research on the tumor that Booth actually had and one of the symptoms was that you see animated characters, and it was an actual symptom of the type of brain tumor he had. And I think my initial idea was Sponge Bob Square Pants, because I don’t know, Sponge Bob makes me laugh.
And one of the, Josh Berman, another producer on the show said, no it should be Stewie from Family Guy, and we called up Seth and he was all for it. So that was just one of those fortuitous things that happens, but we are open to crossovers. And we’ll see if the network wants it and has the will for it and to make it happen, then we’re up for it.


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