On CBS’ The Mentalist (Sunday, 10/9c), someone is hunting and killing CBI members, present and past — the latest target being Grace, who was abducted at the close of last week’s episode. That harrowing development paves the way this Sunday for an “action-packed” swan song for two original cast members: Owain Yeoman, who plays former CBI agent/Grace’s husband Wayne Risgby, and Amanda Righetti herself.
TVLine spoke with Yeoman about bidding the show adieu after nearly six seasons, having Rigsby go out with a bang, the “pairing” he’ll miss most and whether there’s a place for him in series creator Bruno Heller’s buzzy new project, Gotham.
TVLINE | Where does this Sunday’s episode pick up in relation to last week’s, where Wayne had just called Grace and then we saw someone come up behind her?
It’s sort of an immediate follow-up, and it escalates from there. It was great fun for me because it was an action-packed episode and in many respects very unlike our show, which has become a bit synonymous with being a little sleepier, a little slower. But from the minute this one starts, it doesn’t really let up.
TVLINE | Yeah. In some of the photos Rigsby looks like he’s getting pretty aggressive with people, slamming Heibach (played by Lost’s William Mapother) up against a wall and stuff.
It’s a very different Rigsby than the one we’ve known in the past. I sat down with the writers and we were trying to work out how best to say goodbye to a beloved character and give it a proper finale, and I think where we’ve ended up in this episode is a real fitting tribute.
TVLINE | Does Heibach now top the list of suspects?
In many respects, yes. But the beauty of this storyline is that every single one of those people has a beef with the CBI. Now that of course Red John is out of the picture, there’s that feeling that everyone’s taken a big collective sort of sigh of relief. But it’s important for the life of the show to make sure that there’s a feeling of a new antagonist there, so we’re going to learn throughout this episode what this antagonist’s motivation is in attacking these CBI characters. I can’t give away exactly who it is, but the person who does end up being the main antagonist in the episode is brilliantly played. The whole thing felt like a little bit of a mini feature for me — it was very location heavy, very action heavy and there’s a lot of twists and turns. The CBI, and particularly Rigsby and Cho, are together taking matters into their own hands, saying that if someone attacks us personally this is a personal call to arms for us.
TVLINE | You mentioned this antagonist’s motivation. Is it an understandable one?
I think Bruno [Heller] very carefully made sure that all of those people have a genuine motivation. Long-term fans have an involved knowledge of the characters going way back into the history of the show and they will definitely understand why this character has a bit of beef. So yeah, it’s very interesting and I think it puts us all in a very extreme situation. It was very funny to shoot these huge “winter” landscapes location in 80-degree heat while we were spraying everything down with fake snow. That was a little bit befuddling for the mind. But for me, the action really doesn’t stop. There’s a series of car chase sequences, and at one point, I’m actually holding someone out a car, to an almost Mission Impossible effect. It was great fun to shoot.
TVLINE | Since this is your and Amanda’s last episode — and without spoiling the outcome — does it end in a way that viewers will be like, “Well, yeah, I guess it does make sense that they’re leaving the show now”?
I hope so. I mean, I think it’s been an important development for the show to try to move things forward. After six years on the air, the formula of a show can become comfortable, so the need to introduce new blood and a new angle is very important. Hopefully people who have followed the show from day one will understand, while they might not love the idea of two beloved characters leaving. Certainly, within the mythology of the episode, they’ll understand why it is that those characters are not going to be around. I think it gives closure for sure.
TVLINE | Of course, the news of your departure leaked back in August. But when did you know how you were going to be written out? Were you given any kind of a timetable?
It was always [meant to happen] on or around the episode that we ended up leaving. Bruno has had a very clear mythology of the show from day one — funnily enough, in one of the first ever interviews, he said, “I see this show running for six years,” and here we are six years later with a lot of these things being tied up. Clearly, the man’s a genius, the true mentalist. But it was discussed with us, and we went back and forth on a couple of scenarios. It’s very hard, I think, to make sure that you honor the life of that character and do it in such a way that makes people feel like that character has been fairly treated in his or her departure. But feel like the characters had run their course. They had the love story realized with the marriage earlier in the season, and all the really worthwhile, creative stories have been told from Rigsby and Van Pelt’s point of view.
TVLINE | What will you miss most about being on the show? Any on-set antics? Any cast member’s eccentricities?
I’ve had a long-standing, fun “bromance” as it were with Tim [Kang]’s character, Cho — we affectionately called them “Chigsby,” and that will definitely be the thing that I miss the most. Tim and I share a very similar sense of humor and he always makes me laugh. When I speak to people about that, I forget that they just don’t know how funny Tim is. They say to me, “Does he ever smile?” I’ll definitely miss him and just being part of that big family unit. After six years, you end up seeing more of them than you do your own family, so it was a sad day to say goodbye but I felt like we’d really, really closed the chapter in a very appropriate way.
TVLINE | You mentioned your regard for Bruno Heller. If there was an opportunity, who would you like to play on his new Fox series, Gotham? Maybe the Riddler?
I’d had a conversation with him! I said, “I’m just going to let you know, Bruno, that I do look particularly good in a Batman costume.” He said, “That’s great, but unfortunately [on Gotham] Bruce Wayne is 11. So as much range as you have, I don’t know if you can play an 11-year-old.” But if Gotham’s on for another 20 years, it should be just about right for me to step in as Batman! I wish him the best of luck with that — I think they have a really interesting and a really unique take on that whole mythology.