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With the strong fan bases that both "Bones" and leads David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel have with fans, it makes sense that creator Hart Hanson would try to launch his next series within an episode of his still-popular FOX staple. In tonight's episode, entitled "The Finder," the Jeffersonian gang travels to Miami to solve a case and enlist the help of Walter Sherman, a former Iraqi soldier/acquaintance of Booth's, who has the ability to find anything or anyone. While the show could launch "The Finder" series next season, in tonight's episode Walter mixes it up with the "Bones" cast by creating some sparks with Brennan (Deschanel) and perhaps rubbing Booth (Boreanaz) the wrong way. One side note, in much the way that "Bones" is based on a series of novels by author Kathy Reichs, "The Finder" is based on "The Locator" books, written by Richard Greener.
Stults recently spoke with our Jim Halterman about the challenges of launching "The Finder" in the midst of an established show, why he initially had every intention of saying "no" to the project and which A-list film director almost made him miss the chance to do the "Bones" episode.
Jim Halterman: So, who is Walter Sherman?
Geoff Stults: Walter is an interesting guy. He's a little off, he's a little goofy and my favorite thing about him is he doesn't take himself too seriously. I think that's what drew me towards the role. In network television - any television - if you're perceived as the leading man you're supposed to be the hero and save the day and be a badass and all that stuff and Walter has the ability to do all these things but he also has the ability to really be a jack-ass and get himself in trouble that he can't get himself out of. He says stupid things at times... not on purpose it's just that he doesn't have a filter and he's got a little bit of brain damage but he's a fun character.
JH: Stepping into such an established world like 'Bones,' does that make it easier or more difficult to launch these new characters and the world of 'The Finder?'
GS: It's a little of both, to be honest with you. You walk in and you step into a world where things are as established as can be and they've been on the air for 400 years. Emily and David are fantastic in what they do but in a way, it was a complete hassle for them. It's their show! They're the 'Bones' cast! They're not 'The Finder!' Essentially, in the middle of shooting their own show, they had to come down to Miami on what potentially were their days off and shoot our show. They couldn't have been better, more professional, fun and a blast to work with. In a sense, we owe a lot of it to them on the obvious level of them spinning us off but on the human level they were fantastic and so gracious to us. That said, if the 'Bones' fans are expecting to find that we're 'Bones 2.0,' then we're in trouble because this is not 'Bones.' It's way less procedural and way less technical. I've tried to describe 'The Finder' as a more whimsical, strange world where it's 'Magnum PI' meets 'The Locator' books meets 'Fletch.'
JH: Walter and Brennan have a bit of a spark in the 'Bones' episode. What can you tell me about that?
GS: There definitely is and 'Bones' fans are probably like "Oh my God! Please don't let them hook up! It's got to be Booth and Bones!" I'm going to get killed here! There is a little bit of that because she has a completely different way of going about things, she's very precise, works hard, she's very intelligent and they're both good at their jobs. She also doesn't believe in Walter's finder powers so he proves it to her.
JH: What was that first meeting like with Hart Hanson since I'm guessing you need to have a good relationship with the show's creator since you're potentially going to work together for a long time.
GS: Yeah, I actually had no interest in doing this at first. I wanted to do a half hour. When it was originally presented to us, we let it go but sometime later the casting director said 'Just let Geoff read [the pilot] and see if he likes it' and I said, 'I can't say that I don't like it.' I was really trying to be cocky and stick to my guns and say no and keep to wanting to do a half hour but I agreed to sit down with Hart. In the back of my head, I said 'I'm going to respect this guy and the casting director but I'm not doing it.' Five minutes into the meeting I said 'Dammit... ' I just saw what a solid guy Hart was and I wanted to do it.
JH: Did Hart make you vow that you had to Tweet a lot since he is such a master at Twitter?
GS: No, I'm just going to retweet him! [Laughs.]
JH: Tell me about the rest of the cast in 'The Finder.' You're a big guy (Stults is 6'3") but Michael Clarke Duncan is a really big guy!
GS: I can take him! He's a pansy! [Laughs.] He's a monster and could crush me with one hand but he's a gentle giant. In the show, he's kind of like my bodyguard/big brother/best friend all rolled into one. The dynamic between Michael Clarke Duncan, me and Saffron Burrows is like this - Saffron is very maternal to me, like a sister. The three of us are like a family and they both feel like their lives were saved by Walter and now they're dedicated to save his life and to look out for him for different reasons, obviously, and they go about it differently.
JH: Part of the success of 'Bones' is the will they/won't they of David and Emily's characters. Is there potential for any of that between you and Saffron's characters?
GS: There is zero romance between us. There will be another character added that will be Walter's love interest but Saffron is purely maternal towards Walter.
JH: And you almost weren't able to do this episode because of an up-and-coming director named Clint Eastwood, right?
GS: He actually did almost! It was unfortunate but it's such a small role in his next movie, the J. Edgar Hoover story and if it had been any other director I would've passed on it but I wanted the opportunity to work with him. I really wanted to take the shot and it was only a few days playing a FBI agent. To me, he's one of the dudes that I really wanted to get the opportunity to shake his hand and work with. It was worth every second. I really regret that my part wasn't bigger but not because of the part but because I wanted to hang out with him more. He's an incredible guy. I've never seen anything like it. The way he treats everyone from Leonardo DiCaprio on down to the most extra of the extras, they're just human beings, they have conversations with him and he was incredible to be around. Hart made it possible to do both things so thank God!
"The Finder" episode of "Bones" airs tonight on FOX at 9:00/8:00c. FOX announces its 2011-12 schedule on May 16.