Royal Pains' episode on Wednesday (9/8c, USA) marks the directorial debut of star Paulo Costanzo, but don't think anyone, or anything, went easy for him just because it was his first time behind the camera. See: a severe rain delay that kept the cameras rolling until 5 a.m., an hour-long fire alarm during a nightclub shoot and a very testy Brinks driver.
"We were shooting in the city and this Brinks truck pulled directly in the middle of our shot. All of these production assistants ran over and said you got to move it! The driver got out of the car, pulled his gun out and he's like, 'Get away from the car," Costanzo tells TVGuide.com. "I got a great lesson in Film 101, which is that anything that could happen, will."
Costanzo, who plays Royal Pains' ambitious HankMed CFO Evan R. Lawson, fortunately had spent decades preparing for the gig. Ever since helming a short film called The Outcasts at the age of 15, directing has been his dream. "I told people in the past that acting just came along and got in the way," Costanzo says.
Almost as soon as production started on Season 1 of Royal Pains back in 2009, Costanzo says he started pursuing the chance to direct. Although he had to wait three years for the green light, he believes it was worth the wait. "When I read [the episode], I was like, 'Holy sh--! This is made for me," he says.
The episode, which sees the HankMed team treat a pop star, will include dance sequences, a music video and — most importantly for Costanzo — a big story line for one of his favorite characters, Dr. Jeremiah Sacani (Ben Shenkman). "[Ben] was really excited, but I was really nervous. I'm like, 'Holy crap! How do I direct him? He's so good.' But it turns out we instantly had this shorthand and we get each other in so many ways," Costanzo says. "I know that our dynamic helped his performance and I'm actually very proud of that."
Costanzo says the two actors have grown close while working together. "Sometimes you meet an actor and person where it just clicks in and we just have a wonderful dynamic," Costanzo says. "I consider him a good friend now and we're thinking about writing a screenplay together."
Shenkman's character, along with Kyle Howard's Dr. Van Dyke, were first added to the HankMed lineup at the beginning of this season immediately after the Brothers Lawson parted ways. Although Costanzo was slightly disappointed Hank (Mark Feuerstein) and Evan reunited so quickly ("I was like, 'They should actually physically altercate, but no one was into that."), he's happy Hank's replacements have stuck around. "Each of these dynamics has added a different spice to the stew that is the show and I think it's created a much richer stew," he says.
That stew will come to a boil during this week's episode when HankMed physician's assistant Divya (Reshma Shetty) and polo player Rafa (Khotan) follow up last week's kiss with a steamy love scene. "When I read that scene, I was really like, 'Oh boy. We've never seen this side of her before.' It gave me shivers. It was a little bit of 50 Shades of Grey," Costanzo says. "It's a little bit dangerous and sensual with underlying sexuality and fear. [Reshma] nailed it."
Although a certain group of fans have been clamoring for Evan and Divya to get together from the start, Costanzo thinks their time has past. "Shows change a lot, he says. "In this configuration of the show, there's no world in which Divya and Evan could ever get together, which is fine by me and Reshma because we do not want to have to kiss each other."
Costanzo, personally, would much prefer to see Evan get his happy ending with his fiancée Paige (Brooke D'Orsay). "I don't know. I think they're going to get married. I hope at some point they do. That would be pretty weird if they got a divorce and Evan ended up with Divya right away. Then Paige will run off with Hank and then Dr. Van Dyke and Dr. Sacani will realize that they also have feelings for each other and everyone will be happy," Costanzo says.
"We'll move to HBO, and it will be 50 Shades of Jewish."
Check out an exclusive clip from Wednesday's episode:
Royal Pains airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on USA.