In the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton hotel in midtown Manhattan, Rebecca Romijn is waiting for her costar, Jon Tenney, to arrive. She places a playfully brusque reminder call to his cell, then declares with a good-natured sigh, "He's probably upstairs blowing out his hair." And there you have it: The secret sauce in King & Maxwell, this summer's new procedural about two Washington, D.C.-based former Secret Service agents-turned-private eyes. The case of the week is secondary only to the playful rapport between the two leads. We sat down with the pair to investigate their spark.
TV Guide Magazine: The topic of the day is chemistry. For new costars, you two seem to have yours down, on screen and off.
Tenney: Well, she called just as I was getting into the shower and was like, "Hurry up."
Romijn: I was just talking about your hair routine. Doesn't he have an amazing head of hair? If I had hair like that, I wouldn't even look in the mirror. I'd just be like, "I'm gonna shake my hair and walk out the door."
Tenney: My plan was actually to purposely come down last so she could answer all the tough questions by herself.
Romijn: No, no, no! If I had done that, then you would have come down and said, "I don't feel like saying anything because she probably stole all the good answers."
Tenney: It's always a competition.
TV Guide Magazine: That also seems to be the case for your characters, Sean King and Michelle Maxwell.
Romijn: We have a very competitive nature on the show, and that has sort of bled into our work process.
Tenney: You can say it: I obsess and she lets things roll off her back.
Romijn: Jon gets very stressed out if we don't have next week's script already in our hands. He's always worrying about how we're gonna do a scene, and I'm just not.
TV Guide Magazine: Sean and Michelle's opposites-who-attract dynamic is a little reminiscent of Moonlighting's. Are they David and Maddie for the 21st century?
Tenney: We'll take some of that Moonlighting juju. I loved that show. But on Moonlighting, the central thing was, are they going to get together? I think there's an element of that in this show, but it's not the sole driving force. If Sean and Michelle ever get together, it'll be Season 9. [Laughs]
TV Guide Magazine: Before this, were you fans of each other's work?
Tenney: I'd seen the X-Men movies, and I'd seen her on Ugly Betty. I've seen everything she's ever done — several times, actually.
TV Guide Magazine: Including the short-lived WB dramedy Pepper Dennis?
Tenney: Yes. I've actually got a Pepper Dennis tattoo.
Romijn: Well, I loved The Closer, but now I want to see the — oh, my God, what's the Western movie you were in? Tombstone. I want to see when you had the mustache.
TV Guide Magazine: Did you two hit it off instantly at the audition?
Tenney: I was just so happy when we got in the room and we just sort of —
Romijn: — made sense.
Tenney: Those chemistry reads are so weird. During one of the scenes they gave us, they said, "And if you want to improvise, just go right ahead."
Romijn: That's right! We should've known, because now they still ask us to "just do banter." It's three in the morning and we're like, "I'm too tired to think up banter."
Tenney: Really. I stop bantering at midnight.
TV Guide Magazine: Both of you are married (Romijn to actor Jerry O'Connell and Tenney to producer Leslie Urdang). Are your spouses OK with sending you off to work to flirt with each other?
Romijn: Jerry and I both have no problem. This is part of the gig.
Tenney: And since my wife is a producer, she loves actors, thank God.
TV Guide Magazine: This show gets pretty physical. Do you like doing your own stunts?
Tenney: [Points to his forehead] Do you see this cut? This is after 10 days of healing. I had an extreme close-up with a piece of the set and smashed my head open.
Romijn: Yes, it's very action-packed. That actually is really fun.
Tenney: We've had car chases, foot chases...
Romijn: When we get back to the set in Vancouver, we have to spend half the day locked in a trunk together.
TV Guide Magazine: The cases are usually solved by episode's end. Do you enjoy procedurals?
Tenney: I'm much more interested in character than procedure. I think that's what's smart about the show. From an acting point of view, if I had to be the guy who dusted the fingerprint and said, "Case docket No. 74283," I'd go crazy. So I don't look at it as a procedural.
Romijn: I have never been a procedural watcher, per se. I was drawn to this because of the character-driven aspect of it, too. And the ampersand in the title. I love ampersands.
King & Maxwell airs Mondays at 10/9c on TNT.