My worst moment: 'Psych' star James Roday Rodriguez and the stomach-emptying day on set

Nina Metz, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Entertainment News

Running eight seasons on USA Network, the detective comedy "Psych" was distinctive for the friendship between its central duo, Shawn and Gus. Two years ago the "Psych" gang reunited for a TV movie and they are back again with yet another movie installment, "Psych 2: Lassie Come Home," premiering on NBC's streaming service Peacock.

Is it easy for stars James Roday and Dule Hill to re-generate that Shawn-Gus camaraderie again?

"It is," said Roday. "It's something of a phenomenon because even though Dule and I have grown very close and have remained close outside of 'Psych' over the years, our relationship as dudes and our rhythms and cadences with one another are not the same as these two characters. So it really is like flipping a switch."

(On Tuesday, in an interview with TVLine.com, the actor announced that going forward he will be using his birth name, Rodriguez, professionally to reflect his Mexican American heritage. He had previously been using a stage name. The opening credits in the new "Psych" movie will list him as James Roday Rodriguez.)

He counts "Psych" as a high point in his career. "You do this for a long time and it becomes very clear the good gigs from the bad gigs and the older you get the more you appreciate the good ones -- and this was the best one."

When asked to share a cringe-y moment in his career -- the kind you feel in the pit of your stomach -- he replied: "It's interesting that you say 'pit of my stomach' because the pit of my stomach is the source of this story."

It happened on the set of "Psych."

My worst moment ...

"I want to say it was Season 5, we were doing one of our theme episodes. I think it was called "The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Episode" (from 2010). This one we were kind of riffing on 'Jaws' and water movies, so we had a lot of boat work. And yes, we had been out on boats before -- speedboats, a couple big freighters; you're in Vancouver (where the series filmed), you're going to incorporate the water here and there. But we had never done a dedicated 'You're going to be out there acting full scenes on a barge the whole day and only coming back to land for lunch'-type stuff that we did in this episode.

"And I made a choice -- because I'm a grown man and grown adults can make choices -- and I made a choice the first day we were out there on the barge not to come back to land for lunch. It just seemed like it entailed a lot: Getting on the boat, going all the way back, you have just enough time to scarf something down before you have to turn around and get back on the boat to take you out to the barge. So I was like, you know what? I'm good, I have a Power Bar and I'm going to go down below deck and grab some zzz's. Because that's what I needed: To reboot and recharge the battery.

"So I end up napping for about 50 minutes while everyone went back to shore for lunch. And nobody -- even though I'm surrounded by a crew of local lifelong Western Seaboard fisherman and surfers and paddle boarders -- nobody said, 'You might not want to do that because it can throw off your equilibrium.' Not one person said, 'Don't go down beneath the deck and take a nap.'

"So I woke up and I'm feeling a little groggy but I'm working through it, it's all good. And then the nausea hits. And it hits hard. Really hard. And it hits while the cameras are rolling and I'm in the middle of a scene.

"There's just no way around it and I was like (long sigh), I have two options: I can make a big deal out of this and I can yell cut and run to a nook or try to get to a bathroom, or I can recognize that I brought this on myself, that this is my own doing and we have a limited amount of time to get the work done.

"So I just started puking. (Laughs) Right there on camera. In the middle of the scene, over the side of the boat. And it happened over and over. I'd hold up a finger. I'd puke. I'd go back and get in another three or four lines. I'd puke. I'd come back. And we proceeded to do about two hours worth of work that day with me interstitially vomiting over the side of the boat because I didn't want to say 'cut.'

"I think a couple times between takes they might have run in with a wet wipe for me and maybe a breath mint or two. But the work had to go on. And I wasn't going to stop puking. And unfortunately -- or fortunately, now that this story is being memorialized -- that footage exists. It's archival. Someone has footage of me puking on and off in between lines."


What was the scene he was shooting?

"It was me and Dule and we were going our normal investigative stuff where we were snooping around a boat trying to find a clue. And as most of those scenes generally entailed, there was an additional day player who catches us snooping around, so there was another actor with us on the boat. It was a local performer who probably got a helluva more than they bargained for that day. And I was apologetic! I mean, look, nobody deserves to see that. Nobody signs up for that.

"Dule was pretty disgusted but I think also impressed. I think I might have earned a little bit of respect from him that day because that's not how he rolls. He wouldn't have puked and acted; he would have said 'cut.' So I think even though he was revolted by me, he had to give me props.

"And I have to say, as far as puking and acting goes, if you go back and watch the episode, I think it's pretty seamless. We actually thought about keeping it in -- we talked about it because it was like, is it gross? In comedy, everything's in play. But hindsight being 20/20, we didn't set it up in any shape or form so it would have been this completely random thing that then just went away. So we considered it but there weren't enough votes to keep it in.

"When I got home that day I was completely dehydrated and my equilibrium was shot. Even walking felt weird. And if I recall correctly, they did manage to shift some things around on the next day's schedule so I got to sleep in a little longer than normal. Because the next day was back on the boat."

The takeaway ...

"Don't go down below to nap. That's an obvious one, right?

"But also, in a situation where it's time-sensitive and money-sensitive and you have 150 people on a crew who all want to get home to their families at the end of the day, unless you are bleeding out, you push through it. That's what you do.

"And I think you could probably apply that lesson to any number of occupations, but for ours especially, the whole machine comes to a stop if I have to stop. And I think I was just mortified by the idea of having to shut down and costing us two hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars. We have it so good as it is, we're overpaid and we basically get paid to play dress-up, and on the rare occasion when you're faced with adversity you better be able to push through that.

"So it forever will live in 'Psych' lore as the one where I puked my way through a whole scene."

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