My So-called Life Geek Reveals a New State of Mind
Devon Gummersall, State of Mind
Most people remember Devon Gummersall
from his days as Angela Chase's geeky but sweet neighbor on the cult series My So-called Life
, but now the actor has grown up and is portraying a lawyer on the new Lifetime drama State of Mind
(premiering Sunday at 9 pm/ET). He's still the young, fresh face on the show, and he's surrounded by another great cast, including indie queen Lili Taylor
. Could his humorously named lawyer Barry White have some feelings for the lovely Lili? TVGuide.com couldn't wait to find out.
TVGuide.com: I just watched your show, and it’s so cute!
Devon Gummersall: Oh good, I’m glad you liked it. I had worked with the producers, Michael Robin and Greer Shephard, separately, earlier in my career. I had been fond of them and really had a great experience working with them in the past, so when I heard about this, I was really excited to look at it. I felt like the idea of exploring the lives and quirks of therapists was interesting, and I liked that my character was kind of this "odd man out" in an office full of therapists.
TVGuide.com: Plus, the show has a great cast. Including you, of course.
Gummersall: It really does. I’ve been in this business for quite a while now, and these kinds of situations come along very rarely. It’s such a great situation when you have six actors who are all so talented and so passionate about the project. All these people in the show — Lili Taylor and Derek Riddell and Mido Hamada and Kevin Chamberlin and Theresa Randle — are a pleasure to work with, and I think they’re all such interesting actors.
TVGuide.com: How many episodes of State of Mind will there be?
Gummersall: It’s gonna be a total of eight episodes the first season. Hopefully it’ll be a little bit of a different pace, something new for people to watch in the summer.
TVGuide.com: How many Barry White jokes can we expect in these eight episodes?
Gummersall: You know what? So far, surprisingly few. Which I kind of love. I love that everyone just sort of accepts that that’s his name.
TVGuide.com: They all give him a look, though, when he's introduced in the first episode.
Gummersall: It’s definitely subtle, though. It registers and people are like, “Huh, that’s kind of bizarre,” but I love that they don’t overplay it. It’s kind of like that Michael Bolton thing in Office Space, you know?
TVGuide.com: Exactly. So what’s it like being the young guy on the show?
Gummersall: It’s really fun for me to be playing a role that is a little bit more in the sort of professional, adult arena. It takes a long time to make the transition from playing high school and college and post-college to playing someone who goes to the office every day in a suit and tie. That’s a new thing for me as an actor, and it’s really exciting to be part of that.
TVGuide.com: You seem to have avoided the normal teen actor path.
Gummersall: Absolutely, and you know what, I have made a concerted effort to sort of stay away from anything that felt trite or inauthentic. I’ve enjoyed doing a lot of independent movies that have been really good experiences, even if they haven’t really been seen very much by the general public. I’ve found that that’s been a great way to explore things and grow creatively.
TVGuide.com: I've actually seen a bunch of the stuff that you’ve done, but I have to say that when this interview request came through, I was like, “Brian Krakow!” Do you get that a lot still?
Gummersall: Yeah, absolutely, and it never gets old. I never get tired of talking about it or anything, because My So-called Life was such a great experience on all levels, and such a special show. And look, those episodes, they still hold up. You watch them today and they’re still just as impressive as they were back then. The writing is so fantastic. I think the fact that Winnie Holzman went on to write Wicked really shows how talented and versatile she is. I am such a huge, huge fan of My So-called Life, and I never get sick of talking about it.
TVGuide.com: Whenever somebody’s like, “What were your five favorite TV shows?” My So-called Life always comes up.
Gummersall: It’s gotta be up there, I agree. I’m glad you feel that way, too.
TVGuide.com: Well, I’ll be glad to see you now that, you know, you're grown up.
Gummersall: That was the thing about My So-called Life: It did take a long time to get people to see me in a different light, just because that character was so well drawn. But I was joking about my manager with that — we made such an effort to sort of play different kinds of roles and explore darker characters that I was going to be typecast now as the bad guy! But I’ve come full circle now, so I’m back to something in the middle.
TVGuide.com: Barry White is a sweet sort of guy.
Gummersall: He's an interesting character, I have to say, because he’s very innocent and he has a very optimistic idea of his career and of what being a lawyer means. He has this kind of dark past and this sort of edge to him, and that to me was what made the character very exciting.
TVGuide.com: I gotta know, though — does he have a little crush on Anne (Lili Taylor)?
Gummersall: I don’t know, I think it’s possible that that could be explored at some point, but as of yet, I don’t know if I can answer that.
TVGuide.com: Hmm... interesting.
Gummersall: No, I mean I don’t know if I can answer in the sense that I don’t think I know the answer. There’s definitely a connection there, but who knows where it’s going to lead. Every week when we get a new script, it’s always a bit of a mystery.
TVGuide.com: I do have to say that you have, um, much better hair now.
Gummersall: Listen, I agree. I think that as influential as my hairstyle was, it was time to retire it, it definitely was. How I came to have that hair, I really don’t know. But, hey, it was fun while it lasted. Somebody asked me, “What would you have liked to have seen happen for Brian Krakow if the show had continued?” I said, “Haircut. That’s it.” I mean, the poor guy. High school’s hard enough without every day being a bad hair day.
TVGuide.com: Have you had to learn a ton of legal jargon for State of Mind?
Gummersall: I’ve definitely done some research and I’ve read some books about it, but so far it hasn’t been too much. My character is sort of starting out as a lawyer, so most of his initial cases are DUIs and people trying to get out of speeding [tickets]... simple stuff. But I think as it goes on, it’ll get more complicated. He can’t be choosy about who he represents, so he's dealing with these petty criminals and whatnot, and my clients are in the same waiting room as the therapy patients, so that’s kind of funny.
TVGuide.com: Maybe you could work on some sort of cross-deal, where you’re like, "Now go to therapy to find out why you’re committing these crimes!"
Gummersall: Yeah, “What makes you think that you needed that Blazer so bad that you’d go to jail for it?” That’s a good idea, I like that.
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