"Poor Ned!" says Lee Pace, of the romantic piemaker he plays on ABC's fantastical Pushing Daisies
(Wednesdays, 8 pm/ET, ABC). You think you
have problems with your love life? Ned's current romantic entanglement is a doozy, boasting a very unusual obstacle. Because of his special gift (he can bring things back to life with just a touch, but if he touches them again, they die forever), his one true love, played by Anna Friel, is one big hands-off zone, due to having once been deceased. Can you imagine? Pace tells us how Season 2 will examine Ned's sexual frustration, his dysfunctional families— both literal and figurative— and Chuck's biggest secret of all.
TVGuide.com: The show is so visually colorful, with a very specific, rich, saturated palette. So why is Ned always stuck wearing drab black or white all the time?Lee Pace:
That was my idea. It makes sense for the character; he's the center of this mad world.
TVGuide.com: It is a mad world. Have you ever gotten any pressure, either from the inside or the outside, to tone down the show's fairy-tale quality and make it more accessible, more real?
Pace: It's all about [series creator] Bryan Fuller really. He has really, really good taste. The network supports him, and we all support him. I think the show combines comedy and heartbreak, and when it all comes together with the look of it, I don't think there's an answer for how that formula came to be. When you can watch Pushing Daisies or go to On Demand and watch a movie, we want to make the show as satisfying as a movie.
TVGuide.com: Family seems to be a recurring theme this season— Emerson's, Chuck's… will we ever meet Ned's family, whether they be alive or dead at the moment?
Pace: You're absolutely right — family is a big issue this season, how what went on in their pasts has made them the people they are now. Later this season, Chuck and Olive take it upon themselves to find Ned's twin half-brothers, and they make life very complicated for Ned. But it's good for him. He's got a lot of problems, a lot of hang-ups that he's not particularly ready to confront. But… he does, and I think in every episode you see Ned take a step forward. It's all about making life complicated for Ned. Poor Ned!
TVGuide.com: Pushing Daisies is very quaint, very old-fashioned and innocent. But since Ned can't ever touch Chuck, will his sexual frustration ever become an issue?
Pace: Yes, I think so, for both of them. They've been together for over a year now, and it's getting complicated. Is this going to be it for the rest of their lives — spooning through plastic? I like that Bryan Fuller is tackling these things with them because it makes them more grown-up, that they actually do have a sex life.
TVGuide.com: Let's talk about the "no touching" rule. Is there someone whose job it is to patrol that? Has there ever been a time that you've had to change the way something is filmed — say, an action scene— to ensure they don't ever touch?
Pace: Oh yeah, when we're standing together at the Pie Hole counter, we'll always touch a little bit, and then we have to reshoot it. There's a scene in "Circus Circus" [which airs Wednesday] where Anna and I decided we were going to play "slap jack" [in which one player tries to yank their hands away before the other slaps them], which is basically Russian roulette for Chuck. And then [executive producer] Barry Sonnenfeld watched the dailies and said, "What were you thinking, and who let you get away with this?"
TVGuide.com: Was that just something you improvised?
Pace: Yeah, we thought it would be funny. We didn't want to just be sitting in a booth. But they couldn't use the scene, because as an audience, you're really invested in the idea that if she touches him, she's dead. You don't want Chuck to die.
TVGuide.com: Has there ever been a time where a touching gaffe has made it to screen? I haven't noticed any.
Pace: No, but there are times when, because of the way it's filmed, I'll be reaching across in front of her or something, and it might look like we're touching; it's a little too close for comfort. We have to be clean when we're shooting. From the beginning, I've been sitting on my hands and shoving my hands in my pockets. Ned loves Chuck so much, it's always on the front of his mind. It's the psychology of the character.
TVGuide.com: Will Chuck's secret ever be discovered or is it the part of the DNA of the show that it never will?
Pace: Well, she hasn't been found out in a big way yet. But, as I said, the show is about making life hard for Chuck and Ned, and that would certainly make life hard for them. I think it's Ned's deepest, darkest fear, because then he'd be found out, and then he turns into E.T.
Watch full episodes of Pushing Daisies in our Online Video Guide