Home > Interviews > @DropDeadDiva’s death penalty story features heavy lifting by actor #JohnathonSchaech!

@DropDeadDiva’s death penalty story features heavy lifting by actor #JohnathonSchaech!

by Jim on September 25, 2011 · 1 comment

Brooke Elliott, Jamie Lynn Sigler and Johnathon Schaech in tonight's DROP DEAD DIVA finale

@JohnSchaech @BermanJosh  You know when you’re watching a TV show and suddenly a guest star jumps out at you and you can’t help but go ‘Oh My God! I love him (or her)?’ That’s what I did when I popped in the season finale of tonight’s Drop Dead Diva where actor Johnathon Schaech turns up in a guest role. The actor best known for roles like Tom Hanks’ directorial debut, That Thing You Do or on TV in the short-lived Jennifer Love Hewitt series Time Of Your Life, takes on a darker role in tonight’s Diva finale. In the episode, Schaech plays a death row inmate wanting to help his sister (Jamie Lynn Sigler) and, in the process, maybe get some forgiveness for his sins. It’s a heavier story for the light-hearted show but Sigler and Schaech do amazing work, as does Diva star Brooke Elliott.

I chatted with Schaech last week while he was in between shooting scenes for a CSI: Miami guest spot about the role on Diva as well as all the other projects he has going on. The guy is busy but let’s hope we get to see him a lot more on our TVs and in the movies.

Johnathan Schaech (courtesy of Lifetime)

Jim Halterman: The finale is such a star-packed episode with you, Jamie Lynn and even Deidre Hall! But then there’s this heavy death penalty subject. How did you approach that story as an actor with the show generally being pretty light?

Johnathon Schaech: I got a phone call that they offered me the finale and I know Josh very well, too. I was so excited because it’s my Mom’s favorite show on television. I tell my Mom and she’s like ‘Oh my God! I’m so happy you get to do some comedy!’ So then I read it and I was like ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’ But what a great story and it’s true. This has actually happened before. Not to the exact extent but there have been death row inmates who have wanted to give their body parts to people who need them. I did a little investigation into it and though ‘This is going to be heavy.’ But when I got there… man, Brooke has some great comedy timing and she found the humor in those scenes! As heavy as those scenes are, Brooke found the humor and she helped me find the humor…I’ve played a lot of very heavy roles but we found the humor there. The scenes were very emotional but Jamie brought her A-game, too. She could actually be my sister. We really look alike and we’re cut from the same cloth.

JH: The scene with you and Jamie and Brooke had me reaching for the tissues. Was it tough to get into your character? Also, talk to me about the choice not to play him as this awful, dark bad guy. Instead, he’s a guy who has done something wrong but isn’t a death row inmate stereotype.

JS: I felt in a sense that the character has a very short leash to get people into this so, as an actor, I had to use that short leash to get across what was absolutely necessary from the bottom of this man’s heart. From my research, I found that a lot of serial killers murder out of passion and then they have a sense of guilt and remorse and shame and they want forgiveness and I think this is this man’s chance to be forgiven for what he did. And he wanted to give something to his family to make their lives better as he moves on.

Schaech definitely got our attention in HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICA QUILT early in his career

JH: The only downside of your role is that in playing a death row inmate you might not be able to come back, right?

JS: [laughs] I said that to Josh!

JH: You’re pretty scruffy in the episode so maybe we can clean you up and pass yourself off as someone else.

JS: I’d love to work with Josh again. He’s a very talented writer and we’ve just started to see Josh’s work. He has a big future ahead of him!

JH: What are you doing on CSI: Miami?

JS: I’m an editor and these guys are writing books like you know how James Patterson doesn’t really write all his novels? So it’s a behind-the-scenes story and I’m in charge of all the writers.

Schaech (lower left) in Tom Hanks' directorial debut THAT THING YOU DO

JH: Who are most of your scenes with on the show?

JS: (hoarse whisper) David Caruso.

JH: I also see that you’re a writer, too, and you’ve got some films in development there, too.

JS: I think actors help writers tell the stories. I started writing and I wouldn’t say I’m good at it but I’ve gotten better at it. I wrote for a lot of horror people like Stephen King and the Masters of Horror but I took a major shift because I wanted to take on a new challenge. I didn’t want to be given the same things over and over. I wrote a comedy for Columbia Pictures and Happy Madison and I love the storyline and hopefully Adam Sandler is going to be playing the lead. We should be finding out about that shortly.

Schaech is a busy actor (and writer) these days with both TV and film projects in the works

JH: What’s it about?

JS: Are you ready? It’s going to knock your socks off! It’s a true story in 1963. There’s a little league team in Canoga Park and it’s the first Little League on the West Coast to ever make the Pony League World Series because it wasn’t open to West Coast teams. On that team, nine of the thirteen players on that team made it to the pros in one form or another. They’d go to different cities to qualify for that World Series game and in each one of those cities there was a bank robbery. Their coach was robbing banks in each city that they went to and the short stop’s father was the lead detective for the LAPD on the case and good friends with the coach. It’s a comedy, Bad News Bears and Catch Me If You Can.

JH: That sounds great. You sound like him! What else are you up to?

JS: I’m doing this film with Ed Harris called Phantom. I’m so excited! William Fichtner is in also in it. He’s always playing the bad guy and now he’s starting to expand the horizon and do some big films. And then Ed Harris is just a legend. I get to stand toe-to-toe with these guys in this Russian submarine movie!

Tonight’s Drop Dead Diva finale airs at 9/8c on Lifetime. For more on Johnathon Schaech, follow him on Twitter @JohnSchaech and check out www.johnathonschaech.net.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Leslie Nevarez October 2, 2011 at 7:13 am

Johnathon Schaech is truly an amazing actor.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: