Broadway-Bound Robert Sean Leonard Declares: 'This Is My Last Season of House'

Before he joined Fox’s House as the yin to Hugh Laurie’s yang, Robert Sean Leonard was an accomplished Broadway thespian with a handful of Tony nominations (and a win — hello!) under his belt. Now, for the first time in nearly a decade, he’s back on the Great White Way in a revival of Garson Kanin’s 1946 comedy, Born Yesterday. So, while the show is in previews at the moment (ahead of its April 24 opening), the actor is juggling his stage duties with his taping of the final episodes of House‘s seventh season, meaning he commutes from NYC to L.A. on his one day off a week. What was so appealing to him about playing the journalist hired by a corrupt tycoon (The Defenders‘ Jim Belushi) to tutor his airheaded girlfriend (played by newcomer Nina Arianda) that he’d put himself through all this? A hint can be found in the headline. But, as you might expect, there’s more to the story — much more.

TVLine | Why did you wait seven years to return to Broadway?
This is my last season of House. I’m shooting my last episode now. Contractually this is it. There’s also no deal for House next year because Comcast bought NBC Universal and no one has a deal. If I do House next year it’ll be under a new umbrella. But legally and contractually, I’m free after this [season]. So my wife [Gabriella Salick] and I were wondering how the summer looked and what we wanted to do. And I’ve never had enough time to do a play [while doing House] because our hiatuses are only about a month of maybe six weeks long.

TVLine | You don’t really believe this is your last season, do you? I mean, House will eventually get renewed, and you’re a huge part of the show so they’re going to want you back.
[Pauses] I. Love. Money. Very, very much. But I also love my wife and my daughter. And when this play first came up I knew the only way it could work is if the show was over because the run [would overlap] with House‘s shooting schedule. And when my contract was not renewed this season… The long and short of it is, I don’t know. I would love to make more money. Money is nice. I also really miss [living in] New Jersey. I also really miss theater. I miss my friends. Gabby misses her family. I’m sick and tired of living in a place I don’t feel at home. There are very pressing, strong things pulling us in both directions at the moment, so I really don’t know what we’re going to do. It’s going to be a family decision, but it’s not one we have the discomfort of making right now because we’re not being offered options. I assume they’ll make another year of House. And I assume I will do it. But I can’t say for sure. My wife and I are really strange people. We never spend any money. I got my first car when I got out here — a Jetta — and I’ve been driving it since the pilot. We haven’t spent much of the money we’ve made.

TVLINE | You’re shooting the season finale of House now. Does it allude to a possible Wilson departure?
That’s not the plot of the episode, no. That’s not what the episode is about at all.

TVLINE | Even if you do return next season, you’ll still have to miss a couple of episodes because of the play, right?
I’d have to miss quite a few. We could do what we’re doing now, but I’m not sure I would do that – for any amount of money. Commuting 2700 miles is too much for me, and it’s too much for my voice… It’s just hard. I would either have to not be in the first few episodes or they’d have to delay the start date. Or I can be written lightly in them and shoot a couple of Mondays here and there. Anything’s possible.

TVLINE | Why did you decide to make Born Yesterday your Broadway comeback?
Because I love the play. And because [director] Doug Hughes hired Nina [Arianda]. If Doug had hired a famous actress I would have been hesitant. The point of Born Yesterday and the joy of Born Yesterday is Nina Arianda and discovering [her character]. And if you do the play right, then the joy of the play is redefining her every 18 minutes. You think you know who this girl is, and then every 18minutes or so you go, “Wait a minute. Where’d that come from.” That’s what makes the play work. Unfortunately, there aren’t many times in theater when you have someone good enough to pull it off, and we somehow got lucky with Nina.

TVLINE | Was it tough to get back into the eight-shows-a-week grind after doing a TV show for seven years?
No, not at all. I’m at House 17 hours a day. To go into a theater and do a play and be home by 11 – oh my god, are you kidding? It’s like nothing to me. And when you have two dogs and a two-year-old daughter, that’s a nice schedule. I drive to [the House set] in the dark and I come home in the dark. Sure, theater is tough because you’re not home at night a lot and you work on weekends – every job has its downside. But to do something that you love doing for two hours a night, that’s a pretty sweet gig.

TVLINE | Did you miss it?
Oh my God yes. I almost didn’t do it because of scheduling. I looked at the schedule and said, “This is insane. There’s no way.” I had days highlighted in yellow that I was going to be in L.A., and days highlighted in pink that I was going to be in New York. I looked at my wife and I said, “Forget it. There’s no way. I’ll lose my mind.” And she basically said, “If you don’t do this I’ll kill you. You need this. You need to do something you feel this [passionate] about.” I’ve been [on a high] since the first day of rehearsal. I love this company. I love Doug Hughes, I love the play. I love doing it. I can’t wait to get to work every night. I enjoy every minute of it.

TVLINE | I gather House has been accommodating with the scheduling?
Yes, amazingly so. They were extremely, extremely accommodating and sweet about it. They were great. They moved some things around, and they probably wrote me lighter in the final episodes.

TVLINE | Were you prepared to use the “Olivia Wilde got to take a year off to make a movie” argument if they resisted?
No. When I called I said, “Look, you guys — If this can work, great. If it can’t, there are no hard feelings.” Wilson is many things but he’s not Thirteen. I can’t just go away. Thirteen can disappear; Wilson can’t. The show just isn’t structured that way. He has to be there. It’s the way the show works. [He’s like] Carlton the Doorman on Rhoda.

TVLINE | What is Wilson’s arc in these final episodes? Is it mostly him continuing to prop up House?
He’s kind of propping up House. This season has mostly been about House and Cuddy and them trying to make [a relationship] work, which is fine with me. I’ve had a lot of time with my dogs and my daughter. I’m just around to pick up the pieces this season.

TVLINE | Were you disappointed Wilson couldn’t make things work with his ex Sam [Cynthia Watros]?
Yeah. I love Cynthia. Anne Dudek was also great. It’s always sad [when Wilson loses a love interest]. But it’s like when Fonzie gets a girlfriend. You’re like, “She’ll be gone soon.” How long can Pinky Tuscadero stick around?

TVLINE | She’ll be hit by a train or something.
[Laughs] Right. Wilson can’t have a long-term girlfriend. It just doesn’t work.

Thoughts? Can there be a House without Wilson? And are you excited to see Leonard stretch his creative wings in Born Yesterday? Hit the comments!

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  1. Hannah says:

    I saw this and thought I was going to cry. This is so sad, I love Wilson! They better give him a goodbye, no b.s. “Wilson quit, left a note saying goodbye” ending.

  2. Nerdista says:

    He sorta seems like a jerk, and his acting isn’t good enough to make me forget it. Boo.

  3. Saerwen says:

    I sincerely hope that RSL will be back next year. In whatever capacity it can happen. I’ve dealt with everything else House threw at me, but if there’s no Wilson, I WILL leave.

  4. Sara Stucky says:

    Wilson is the ONLY reason I watch House. For me no more Wilson means no more House. Simple as that

  5. Tania says:

    Mike, there must be a way to get rid of the trolls with their ugly foul comments. Where’s the monitoring?

  6. Cassidy G. says:

    House+Cuddy+Wilson. Bring them all back or I won’t be back.

    • Paula says:

      House+Wilson. Cuddy don’t count.
      Hello from Spain.

      • CuddyTheBest says:

        Don’t touch Cuddy!

      • Linda says:

        Paula- They all three count a great deal to a great many of us. I like all of the characters on the show but H/C/W are the ones I have to have on the show to continue watching Monday nights.

    • Mandy says:

      To me House without Wilson and Cuddy is like Lucy without Ethel and Ricky. Or like Kirk without Bones and Spock. DNW. I would quit the show. Comcast needs to get busy and sign the show back up for another season. I’m tired of dangling in the wind waiting to know if Wilson or Cuddy will be back.

  7. luna says:

    Yeah, House md is dead….years ago.
    Season 1-2-3 forever.

  8. househot says:

    House can survive without Wilson! Come on people!
    Your screams for RSL suck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    He just want to leave – pleas RSL, go away!

    • gfk says:

      House can survive without Wilson! Come on people!

      Are you serious? House and Wilson’s relationship has been the heart of the show since the beginning. House the character can not survive without Wilson, he’s the only true friend he’s got

  9. Tina says:

    House can survive without Wilson. I agree.

    • Ann says:

      “House can survive without Wilson. I agree.”

      Let’s see when Wilson left in early Season 5, House was obsessed with getting him to come back, had him followed by Lucas so he could keep tabs on him, etc…

      Cuddy dumps him and he parties and practically declares his freedom again…hmmm.

  10. lol says:

    “Have fun in your Huddy fantasy land”

    actually I’m not huddiest. Have fun in your hilson fantasy land…ha-ha
    poor people…

  11. hilsonLOL says:

    “Have fun in your Huddy fantasy land”

    Actually I’m not huddiest but Huddy I love more
    Have fun in your hilson fantasy land…ha-ha
    poor people…

    • gfk says:

      How come anyone who likes Wilson is automatically a hilson? Wilson is my favorite character. I like House and Wilson’s friendship but I do not ship them. It’s no fantasy that their friendship is the strongest one on the show

  12. Julia Le says:

    I love Wilson! But to be honest I stopped watching when House and Cuddy got together. I’ve thought about maybe going back and catching up on this season but haven’t had a good enough reason to.

  13. whitecliffsofdover says:

    The reason I watch this show is for the characters. I could care less about whether [H]ouse took place in a hospital or not. The 3 characters that keep me coming back are Wilson, Cuddy and House. I want to see what happens to them and I always look forward to an episode that I know has House and Wilson, House and Cuddy or all three in a scene, or a lot of scenes, together. Basically what I’m saying here is if 1 of the 3 are gone it would ruin the show for me.

    • Bella says:

      I agree. House, Wilson and Cuddy make the show for me. I love all three of these characters and the way they interact with each other. What ever RSL decides to do I wish him well but if there is a Season 8 of House I hope that he will be a part of it and I hope LE is part of it too.

      I’m not a Huddy or a Hilson or any other premutation of shipper by the way. I just enjoy the show and these 3 Hugh, Lisa and Robert have always been the MVP’s of the show for me – they are what has kept me watching.

  14. Julia says:

    I’m sad, I was in love with House, Cameron, Wilson and Foreman (old version). Patience. The first season is truly amazing.

  15. James says:

    It’s just a stupid TV show.

  16. deedeedragons says:

    Seems like he kind of feels the same way Audra McDonald did, can’t really blame him.

  17. Iwa Iniki says:

    Jerry Orbach (now deceased) of “Law and Order” and one of my favorite actors, made the statement, “Never walk away from a successful show”. One more season on “House” is an excellent idea for many reasons.

  18. AT says:

    Sounds like a great opportunity for Robert Sean Leonard. I hope he gets to continue to do what he’s passionate about, and it sounds like he really loves his family and wants to spend more time with them. So, I say good for him. House has become less interesting each season anyway. Too bad they messed with the formula of the first 3 seasons. Those ones were definitely the best. I’m sure whatever happens he’ll work out a way to do a few episodes next season to round out his character if he chooses to leave. Well anyway, whatever he decides to do I wish him the best.

  19. hello says:

    You can’t have Sherlock without Watson, if he leaves it’s just another thing that makes me think they should end it

  20. MarcO says:

    A few thoughts, if I may.

    I remember RSL’s first (to me) appearance opposite Robin Williams on “Dead Poets Society” (Students saying “Captain, my captain” standing on their desks, anyone?), and I know for a fact that RSL has the acting chops. He is an incredible character actor no matter what role he plays. All the best of luck to you in whatever future endeavors you undertake, Mr.Leonard, although with your talents, luck may not have much to do with your success.

    “House” is a great ensemble show. It’s not just the lead character, but the entire cast that makes House such a great and entertaining program. I dearly hope this won’t be the show’s last season. It’s one of the few shows I actually go out of my way to watch. I have not missed a single episode. BUT… I also know that all good things come to an end eventually, so if it IS House’s last season, I hope they won’t end the show without tying up all the loose ends, à la “The Sopranos”. I would like to have some closure; after all, we have invested -as fans- many hours making House, Cuddy, Wilson, Chase, Foreman, and the ducklings a part of our extended family. No matter what, I will definitely be buying every season’s DVD to watch over and over.

    To be continued? Gee, I hope so.

  21. elsol69 says:

    That’s a heavy use of the word ‘money’ in an interview. Don’t get me wrong, he’s worth it — but if that’s not a message, I don’t know what is.

  22. Dominic Severus says:

    great next they’ll load house with anti depressants cuddy will marry nice jewish boy… chas’ll goto jail… taub will buy lifts and move to vegas with his plastic sugery practice….

    THIS SUCKS!!!!

  23. Pepper says:

    The show can do without ANYONE but Wilson. I would watch it if it was just House and Wilson. In fact, I’d love it. Hugh Laurie and RSL are amazing actors. They’re perfect together.

  24. maria says:

    i’ll die .

  25. Rebecca says:

    I love RSL and Wilson. It wouldn’t be House without him. I’m a little disappointed to hear that he just considers the show a paycheck. It sounds like he couldn’t care less if it continues other than the fact that if it doesn’t, he won’t make all that money.

  26. HousesJEW says:

    Wilson can not leave the show!!!!!! Who wants to look at ‘old’ Hugh Laurie all the time if we can have the awesome drop-dead gorgeous RSL!

  27. Huddydancers says:

    Wilson so awesome drop-dead gorgeous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Robert Sean Leonard must never leave the show!

  28. Cuddy_Boys says:

    What is House MD without Wilson and Cuddy for that matter! Only watch the show to see Robert Sean Leonard and Lisa Edelstein (two lovely actors!).

  29. Wilsonrock says:

    Love Wilson! What is House MD without him (and for that matter RSL – the best looking of all the men!)

  30. Cuddypolegirls says:

    Wilson is one of the reasons WHY we watch House! Love RSL !!!!!

  31. LSHummer says:

    Wilson – the ONE and ONLY!!!!!!!!!!!!! Robert Sean Leonard awesome actor AND singer! He can no leave the show at all!

  32. Oldblue_eyes4ever says:

    House MD is the awesomness of WILSON (aka RSL) – the supporting actors must also get the credit!

  33. Broadwaynews says:

    No RSL can not leave the show! Wilson (RSL) IS the whole PACKAGE – attractive to look at and an awesome actor and singer!

  34. Housedares says:

    One actor worth to ‘freak out’ for – Robert Sean Leonard (aka Wilson)!

  35. SandraA says:

    This is ONE actor we love to watch (will it be House MD or on Broadway) – not only good-looking, but also awesome acting!

    However, we all hope he will be back for ONE final House MD season!

  36. Housefans4ever says:

    Totally agree with one remark we read – ‘The show can do without ANYONE but Wilson’.

  37. Robin says:

    Yeah, because Garson Kanin wrote absolute crapola, while the House writers give us pure dramatic brilliance . . . *cough*

  38. Brit says:

    OK, about twelve of the above comments originated from the same person, using twelve different screen names. We get it- RSL is “awesome drop-dead gorgeous.” Geez.

  39. Erina says:

    No! Can’t believe that! House without Wilson? NEVER! =/
    Besides House, he is my favorite character! -_-

  40. Sara says:

    my heart is broken!!! ;______________________________;

  41. PamelaJ says:

    We all will miss Wilson (please try to stay al least for season 8)-but we’re so happy for RSL, Broadway is what he loves most.

  42. Melissa says:

    Just saying – Robert Sean Leonard (Wilson)and Lisa Edelstein (Cuddy) are integral to the success of the show – so we don’t want ONE of them to leave! Love you to bits Robert – please stay for your devoted fans!

  43. Janet & Lee-Anne says:

    Agree with that statement. If you see all the websites for RSL and LE the two of them are probably more popular than Hugh Laurie (House). A lot of fans out there. It will be nice if RSL could stay on board for an eighth season (the last?).

  44. Housefans1969 says:

    We hope Robert stays because he´s a huge part of the show…if Wilson (and Cuddy for that matter) is not on the show anymore, then our interest will be gone. They must pay the supporting characters more! They anyhow pay Hugh Laurie an *insane* amount of money!

    • Derdriui says:

      Hugh Laurie’s paycheck is ridiculous.

      It’s hilarious. 400,000 USD (or more?) per episode for a character he can probably play in his sleep by now… adds hilarity to the blues album he just released.

  45. Alex says:

    If Wilson leaves without starting a years-overdue relationship with House, I’m going to cut a bitch.

  46. Ana says:

    You’re making the right choice. Abandon that wreck ship while you still can. You’re better than House.

  47. Sophia says:

    NO WAY! there can be no House without wilson. House, Wilson, Cuddy: they HAVE to be there. I know Robert-sean is just worried about contracts, I think he will do the right thing, which of course he knows is stay on [H]ouse MD.

  48. Cody says:

    There is no way there can be House M.D. without Wilson on the show. I hadn’t heard that all the shows with NBC Universal didn’t have contracts for the next season. I hope everyone currently working on the show gets renewed, including Robert.

  49. Trish says:

    Do any of you remember the episode about the missing guitar? That show RSL’s talent. Too funny! The only reason 7 was not a great season was because Amber just did not fit in in any way. She might be a good actress in other shows but not this one. I hate to think because of one person bringing down such an excellent show. I love Wilson and House together but I think the whole cast works together great. None are replaceable in my opinion.

  50. CB says:

    I have really missed Wilson this season. It was obvious they were “writing him light” but I figured it was because of the Huddy thing and hoped it wasn’t because they had no more ideas for him. I didn’t enjoy this past season nearly as much and I believe that was mostly because I was missing the House/Wilson scenes. They not only bring some humor but a lot of clarity. I really enjoy RSL being on the show and hope Comcast does whatever it takes to bring him back next year. If they don’t, maybe I’ll go find another Internet provider! Hah!