Maggie Lawson spoke with Solzy at the Movies over the phone last month about the newest Psych movie, Psych 3: This Is Gus.
Lawson is a Louisville native so our hometown became the topic of conversation at various points during the interview. I grew up watching her on WDRB when she worked as a youth host for the FOX-41 Kids Club before relocating to LA during high school. A “blast from the past” as Lawson said before we dived into the new Psych movie.
Psych 3: This Is Gus starts streaming November 18, exclusively on Peacock. All eight seasons and two previous movies can currently be streamed on Peacock.
How exciting was it to get back with the gang again?
Maggie Lawson: I feel like a broken record when I talk about it just because I always say the same thing. It really does feel like coming home. We’ve been through so much together, so much life together. We started this show in 2006 and for those who did the pilot, it was 2005. We’re still here, we’re still making the show, and we’re closer than ever. I still pinch myself that I got so lucky to be a part of the show and also have the greatest friends from it and the family that we truly are. We were so close in real life but the fact that we get to come back and kind of grow and be these characters again and again and again is so rare. It’s so rare and we don’t take it for granted.
I feel like we get it’s a really, really, really special thing and we know how much the Psych fans—Psych-O’s as they call themselves and now call them—have loved and supported and kept us going. I feel like our little family expanded to all the Psych-O’s as well because they’re the reason we’re still here. It’s the best. I think for us, too, there was something really special about this movie in particular after the last year and a half that we’ve all had. For me, this was my first time going kind of back to work since before this whole pandemic again so it was really, really, really special even that much more to see everybody. All of us feel so lucky that we get to keep working and that we’re all here and that we’re still making Psych.
How did the pandemic make things different as far as work goes?
Maggie Lawson: Because we were shooting in Canada and the restrictions there were still in place to quarantine, we all had to quarantine. James was already up there shooting A Million Little Things so he had to quarantine for that but didn’t have to for our movie so he was the only one. Everybody—Steve, Chris—everybody. We all had to quarantine for three weeks in our hotels and it was fun. Kirsten and I were in the same building so we had a couple of funny moments where we got to go out on our balconies and wave to each other and kind of catch up several floors apart. But yeah, so we had to quarantine and then we were tested every other day. Everyone was wearing masks. It was a very different experience but I was grateful for it. It’s just what you have to do. It’s what we had to do to work and be safe and luckily, we were safe and the whole set was safe. I can’t say enough about—we had a COVID team that we checked in with every single day and they kind of kept everybody safe on the set. They were outstanding and obviously, because we got through the whole shoot with no issue. It was very different but I think I was thankful just because we all were safe.
Did the pandemic extend shooting compared to the two previous films
Maggie Lawson: I think it more extended our time there. We’re usually in Vancouver to do these about three and a half four weeks and we were there almost six. It was that but in terms of the actual days of shooting, it really didn’t impact it too much. Again, they laid it out so perfectly. Because of the safety measures we were taking and the way that the COVID team kind of worked with our team and whatever, it just made everything goes so smooth. We were very lucky that we had basically a normal shoot except for masks, shields, and tests and all of that. I think maybe we had a couple extra days added on but I don’t think that was COVID-related necessarily.
How did you keep yourself busy during the pandemic?
Maggie Lawson: It’s funny. I think I went through the phases a lot of people did. I feel lucky that I was in a comfortable safe place. I had Peanut, my dog. I went through kind of the baking and cooking phase. I got into painting and was taking voice lessons because I sing but I just really haven’t in a long time so I was doing these virtual voice lessons. I would say painting was probably the other thing I did the most to sort of try to stay sane. Yeah, drink wine, have some wine.
How much is Detective Juliet O’Hara like yourself in real life?
Maggie Lawson: I would say that like myself, I would say that Juliet—one of my favorite things about the character was that whenever she’s given a task that was a little bit outside the box like going undercover, she kind of went overboard to the point where it almost messed it up because she got too into it. I would say that she’s way more smooth than I am but I think similarly in my life if I find something that I’m like oh, I’m like a new thing, a new hobby a new whatever it might be—if I set my mind to kind of do it, I kind of go overboard and become obsessed with it, which can actually be very clumsy. Juliet at least kept it together. I don’t think I do but I do think we share that sort of intensity that our mind is set on something.
At this point in the franchise and after eight seasons and now three movies, how much direction do you require for the character?
Maggie Lawson: (Laughs) It’s funny because when we came back and did the first movie, I remember the first day of shooting on the first movie, I was like, I’m rusty. It took literally a couple of minutes and a couple of takes and then we were off and running. But now, because they write so well to kind of our lives and we’re all growing up, now it feels more getting more kind of—for me, the second I put on my suit and heels, I’m kind of like, alright, I feel like Juliet again.
What do you typically look for in a character when you’re reading a script for a project?
Maggie Lawson: I think honestly, it comes down to—I don’t know if this is gonna make sense but sort of believing them. I do like to look for doing something different. One of the things I loved about Outmatched was how kind of a husband, east coast—I don’t know if that’s a thing—but it’s sort of a tough, I was a pit boss, which I just really hadn’t been seen for something like that before. People don’t necessarily see me for something like that. It was really, really fun that that I got to do that and that Lon kind of saw me as a character like that.
I think that would be—if there’s something new I can explore or bring to it or sort of challenged by a little bit but also, I think what I’m saying about believing is sort of like it’s truthful. I’m not gonna say this phrase but I feel like believing the character, believing the intention, believing all of that, I feel like there is—obviously a lot in the writing, too—but yeah, when I imagine playing it, it’s like can I bring truth to this?
Is there a filmmaker that you would want the opportunity to work with?
Maggie Lawson: Oh, yeah. I really love Sarah Polley, who made this movie years ago, Away from Her, and did this other movie, Take This Waltz. I think she’s so talented and I know maybe not the biggest name director but I just love how she tells stories. I think she would be super cool to work with.
With relocating to LA as a teenager, what are some of the things you miss from back home?
Maggie Lawson: Thunderstorms. Seasons. I missed the ease, the sort of pace. My mom is still there and when I go back, it sometimes feels like a day or two to be like oh, right. Just like a little slower pace. I mean even the speed limit is 10 miles per hour slower than LA. I would say that overall—just like slowing the pace down 10 miles an hour. I missed that a lot—on top of my friends and family.
Would you have ended up going to high school?
Maggie Lawson: You mean college?
Wikipedia showed you moved at 15. Where did you start out high school before moving away?
Maggie Lawson: Oh, I went to Assumption but I actually finished there. I actually went back and forth and back and forth for a couple years. That went on for two years and then my senior year, they let me do correspondence so that I could come back and graduate with my class.
Maggie Lawson: I stayed kind of—yeah, it was almost like a weird—after all this year of virtual learning, it was at the time, I guess it’s that version of that. I got to still write for the school paper. I was an Assumption Rocket start to finish.
I have to ask—did you grow up a Kentucky or Louisville fan?
Maggie Lawson: It’s tough. I would say U of L although I probably follow UK Basketball more closely but if it ever came down to playing each other, I definitely went Cardinals. I went Cardinals.
I bleed blue.
Maggie Lawson: You’re like, I’m disappointed (laughs).
Are you game for Psych 4?
Maggie Lawson: I am game for Psych 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. We might be getting old past 10. I am down for all things Psych forever.
I will definitely be tuning in should those happen.
Maggie Lawson: Thank you so much. I appreciate that. It’s so fun to talk to somebody from back home.
Peacock launches Psych 3: This Is Gus on November 18, 2021.
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