As Royal Pains' dark and mysterious multi-millionaire Boris Kuester von Jurgens-Ratenicz, Campbell Scott is willing to go to great lengths to keep fans on their toes. Even fake his own death.
"The producers said, 'We want to make it so that no one knows you're still on the show,' and I was like, 'I can't wait,'" Scott tells TVGuide.com. "I have such a small part anyways that we're always looking for different things that at least keep us engaged. We figure if we keep ourselves engaged then someone else will be too."
After serving as Hank and Evan's unofficial landlord for four years on the USA series (airing Wednesdays, 9/8c), Boris appeared to be a goner after an explosion rocked his expansive Hamptons estate, Shadow Pond, in the fourth season finale. When the show returned for Season 5, Boris' belongings were being divided up, and Evan (Paulo Costanzo) and Paige (Brooke D'Orsay) were already moving in.
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However, when Hank (Mark Feuerstein) ventured to Budapest to dig up information in the last episode, he discovered that Boris is alive and well and ... hiding out from his equally mysterious cousin, Milos (Callum Blue). "Frankly, now I'm relieved because he finally has been shown to be alive so I can finally go back on the radar with at least a few people that I know," Scott says with a laugh. "We had talked about it a few seasons ago — just playing with the idea of him being so mysterious that he disappears and then, finally, after last season, it gave them the opportunity to make a couple of stories really work."
While some actors might scoff at being (temporarily) taken off of a series, Scott embraces — and even enables — such flashes of Boris' wild side. "I always encourage them: 'Make Boris as crazy as you want,'" he says. "What I always tell them is as soon as we feel like Boris is really a known quantity and someone who is good or benevolent, then let's make him kind of creepy and mysterious again. And as soon as we think he's creepy and mysterious and obviously up to no good, I want to make him suddenly benevolent."
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These constant twists and turns not only keep fans scratching their heads, but also help make things interesting for Scott. "I've never been involved, really, in something that is this long-running and I'm glad that I'm not a main character because I think I'm not sure how I would keep that fresh for myself," he says. "There are many shows where people are just kind of dotting the i's and crossing the t's and that's about it."
After working on the short-lived 2006 network drama Six Degrees, Scott says he was reluctant to sign up for another series when he got the call from Royal Pains' pilot director, Jace Alexander. "I knew him from way back, and he called and said, 'Do you want to do this pilot?' I was like, 'Yeah I don't want to do another television series,'" Scott recalls. "And he was like, 'Just do it. It's a crazy character. You'll enjoy yourself.' And he was right."
Over the years, Boris has consistently added a unique mix of opulence and intrigue to the procedural. "We can always pull him out to make something mysterious happen, and also, just practically, to make something cool happen like in a strange setting or some sort of very wealthy setting. These are the things on TV that I think all the people sitting at home love too," Scott says. "Like I never go to the places that Boris goes. I don't have a jet. I don't know anything about that life. But we can make it up and have fun."
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Boris' impressive (and pricey) wardrobe doesn't hurt either. Now, from what I understand, Boris has a whole fashion following," Scott says. "My joke is that there is no Boris until the ring and the watch and the suits are on."
The secret, Scott says, to keeping such an enigmatic character likeable is the "less is more" approach. "He's not over-used. I like the fact that people don't know how to peg Boris all the time — I think that's an asset. There was awhile there where he had a baby, and a wife and all that stuff," Scott says. "Then she disappears for a while. I keep saying, 'When is the baby going to come back?'"
But first, fans must figure out when Boris is coming back to the Hamptons. After Hank discovered Boris was alive, Boris' half-brother, Dimitri, was killed by Milos. "Boris is still supposed to be dead. So he is still hiding," Scott says. "It's very odd what we do and very cool because Boris has to stay under wraps. He can't do his usual maneuvering."
Which means it's up to Hank to help further Boris' revengda. "Boris is this central, strange influence on Hank. They tend to teach each other in lessons and in very indirect ways," Scott says. "Hank, and in fact Evan and Paige, take a big part in this."
It's hard to surmise just how the writers will top having Boris fake his own death, but Scott is game for whatever comes next. "As long as they keep throwing us into things that are unexpected, I don't think any bad will come of it," he says.
Royal Pains airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on USA.