RODAY TOTALLY AT HOME ON 'PSYCH'.
James Roday is gonna go ahead and admit it: He just woke up.
The star of USA Network's "Psych" called from Vancouver on Friday morning to talk about the premiere of the show's third season on Friday night, and he's kinda punchy.
I ask how he is doing.
"Pretty damned good," he said, quickly collecting himself. "Feeling alive."
On "Psych," James plays Shawn Spencer, a man with a gift for noticing the tiniest of details who pretends to be a psychic and helps police solve crimes, along with the help of his childhood friend and bantering partner Gus (Dule Hill). He might be pretending, but he's so good at solving cases that police keep calling on him.
James, 32, said fans of the show can look forward to the best season yet.
"The first two years were fun: two guys running around and acting silly and living out their dreams," he said. "We are just maturing as a television series. It's probably fair to say, once you get into a third season on any series, you aren't as nervous (about staying on the air) and can actually start thinking about longevity.
"What is the trajectory here? What are we going to do with these characters and learn about them? That's how we are starting to evolve.
"It's been very invigorating. We definitely bumped it up a notch. Scripts have been far more ambitious. We are also swinging for the fences in terms of worlds we go into, cases we take on. We are a very ambitious group. We are swinging really hard."
He and co-star Hill came into the show from very different places.
Hill had spent several years on "The West Wing," while James had a far less distinguished television record: an unaired pilot and two failed series, including NBC's "Miss Matched" in which he starred with Alicia Silverstone.
"I was starting to wonder if I was the kiss of death while (Hill) only knew quality and quantity," James said. "I was like, 'Dude, you don't know how this works!' "
But television wasn't even originally part of the plan for James, whose background was in the theater and who studied at New York University's Experimental Theatre Wing.
"I came out with a New York actor mind-set and a large chip on one shoulder," he said. "You sort of see yourself doing theater for no money by day and bartending by night and being part of a fraternity of artists who throw commerce out the window. That was me for about 5 1/2 years until I got my first paying gig and that sent me to L.A."
He is currently in a relationship with "Psych" co-star Maggie Lawson and said the mixing of the personal and the professional has, in this case, "been a gift."
"For anyone in our industry, one of the toughest things about having a relationship is how much time you get to see each other. The fact that we see each other every day, no matter what, has really worked out nicely for us. She's such a great girl. She makes what I do so much easier and so much more enjoyable."
The solid relationship has made it easier to navigate his elevation as a television sex symbol. James was named one of People magazine's 100 Most Beautiful People of 2007 and has been trying to live it down since.
"The photo shoot was in some really expensive house in the hills. I felt so uncomfortable that day! At the same time, I was flattered and everybody was really nice. But I don't know if I will ever live that one down with my closest friends. Anyone who knows me at all knows I have no style."
(color) Actor James Roday is feeling content and a little adventurous as "Psych" begins its third season on USA Network. It helps that he has a relationship with co-star Maggie Lawson.
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