Let's face it: Mark Feuerstein is the menschiest mensch who ever mensched. He is known mostly for his good-guy roles on Good Morning, Miami and The West Wing, and in movies like What Women Want and In Her Shoes. Next up he plays Hank Lawson, a noble surgeon, on USA Network's Royal Pains (its 75-minute premiere is Thursday at 10 pm/ET). After a rich patient dies on Hank's watch, he's blacklisted from the Manhattan medical community, but —irony alert! — after heading out to the Hamptons to forget his troubles, he ends up becoming a "concierge doctor," a private, discreet advisor to the area's wealthy. Feuerstein spoke to TVGuide.com about whether he has bad-guy fantasies, why his show isn't just about rich people and what makes costar Campbell Scott's German accent so damn hilarious.
TVGuide.com: Do you ever think, "I wish I could play a drug dealer or a crooked cop or a cheating husband?" You always play such nice guys.
Feuerstein: Totally. Completely. I don't know what it is that determines what you get to play in our business. I have had the opportunity to do some bad-boy roles as a guest star on TV or in the theater. I played a true a--hole, a studio exec, in The Muse — one of my favorite roles ever, I got to fire Albert Brooks! And then on The Closer, I played a therapist who was having a thing with some of the young girl patients. And I recently did a Neil LaBute play called Some Girls.
TVGuide.com: That said, what drew you to this part? Hank is clearly not a bad guy.
Feuerstein: A script comes across my desk where I get to be a romantic, dramatic and comedic lead, and it's a dream. Yeah, I could hold out for the scary-villain part on Heroes, but in the long run it might not be as interesting as being the lead on a show set in a world that I know and love from growing up in New York, written by incredible writers and with incredible castmates. You couldn't pass up an incredible opportunity like that unless you had much bigger fish to fry, and I didn't and I'm very thankful I didn't.
TVGuide.com: Have you ever been a Hamptons rat? Gotten the share house or anything like that?
Feuerstein: I never got the share house because right around the time when you would do that, my parents started renting out in Bridgehampton. So I was lucky enough to mooch off my parents instead of paying a few grand a month to live with male whores.
TVGuide.com: Why is the Hamptons the right location for this show?
Feuerstein: While it is the "promised land" and it is filled with money, the show takes a beautiful turn around Episode 3 where it's no longer just about rich people. The writers wanted to make the show more dimensional; the network wanted a show that reflected our current economy. So Jill [a comely hospital administrator played by Jill Flint] and Hank become a Bonnie-and-Clyde team to find people who have been left behind by the medical-care system. Hank becomes a sort of Robin Hood of medicine; he finds a dockworker living with hepatitis C and comes every week to give him his meds, that kind of thing. There's a question posed in the first episode: Are we who we treat?
TVGuide.com: So if Hank is such a hero, why is he living in Boris' big, fancy mansion?
Feuerstein: Well, I don't want to give too much away, but Hank is going to be caring for Boris as well somewhere down the line. But for now, it's just a place for him to live.
TVGuide.com: You are surrounded by beautiful women on this show. Will there be any summer lovin' for Hank?
Feuerstein: This show is basically a male fantasy. This guy and his brother get to live in an exquisite estate for free while making a great living taking care of people. But for Hank, Jill is the one. She, it seems, is the reason Hank stays. There's a good opportunity for him to work for these well-to-do people and all, but Hank has to have substance so then he finds Jill.
TVGuide.com: We see Christine Ebersole chewing some scenery in the pilot episode as a rich lady who likes her plastic surgery. Are there any other interesting guest stars we should look out for this season?
Feuerstein: Callie Thorne from Rescue Me came in to play a restaurateur who owns the "it" restaurant in the Hamptons who has a sudden stroke. Andrew McCarthy plays [a wealthy business magnate who ignores his son].
TVGuide.com: What else does Hank have in store this season?
Feuerstein: Most of the patients will just be around for one episode, but some will recur. Christine Ebersole's character, for example, will return, and we'll meet her staff. The character of Tucker [a rich kid who crashes his dad's Ferrari] has a great episode coming up where his story continues. Tucker is the one character who lets us know that all rich people aren't a--holes.
TVGuide.com: How many times have you cracked up on set due to Campbell Scott's German accent?
Feuerstein: Several. Here is the guy from Singles and Dying Young and Roger Dodger, all these great movies, doing this accent for this crazy character. Every time he does it, it gets more nuanced and mysterious, and Paulo [Costanzo, who plays Hank's brother, Evan] and I will run off to the side to try to imitate his delivery. [In highfalutin' German accent] "That's right, because the best things in life... are free." He's so brilliant. I get to shoot with him on Wednesday, we have five scenes together, and I'm literally looking forward to it like I did when I played football on Saturdays in the fifth grade.
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