A quick chat with Stephen Fry

‘National treasure’ Stephen Fry brings some comic relief to Sky1’s US crime drama Bones when he rejoins the cast as a psychiatrist, Dr Gordon Wyatt, with a surprising past…

The eccentric psychiatrist returns to the Jeffersonian Institute to tell the team that he is retiring. But it’s not long before he’s drawn into a case involving the mysterious disappearance of a musician in a death metal band called Spew.

What prompted you to go back and do another episode of Bones?

“It’s always a pleasure to work with David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel, who play Booth and Brennan. The producers have been very kind and asked me back many times, but I have always been unable to do it. This time, it worked out.”

It sounds like a fun storyline…

“We actually filmed scenes at a death metal concert. It was quite a shocking sight and a terrible noise. But underneath all the studs, tattoos and fetishistic dressing, most of them are absolute sweethearts.”

So are you a fan of death metal now?

“I’ve always been aware that it existed, but that doesn’t mean I want to hear it.”

Will viewers learn anything new about Wyatt?

“Well, there’s the fact that he used to be a glam-rocker! When I read the script I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to have to get into a gold lame outfit and it will have to bulge in all the right places’. Fortunately, they altered a photo with the magic of digital technology. I look like a cross between Marc Bolan and Brian May with big hair and a star-shaped guitar.”

Do you enjoy playing a psychiatrist?

“The beauty of playing a psychiatrist is that it’s a licence to be eccentric. It is one of the marvellous ironies that it’s a job where you are helping the mentally unstable, yet it is the psychiatrists who often exhibit the most weirdness.”

Have you had any feedback from real psychiatrists?

“Emily Deschanel has a family friend who was a psychiatrist in Washington. This sounds very boastful, but he says it is the best representation of a psychiatrist that he has seen.”

What’s the difference between working in British and American TV?

“American TV has a great deal more money, but also more pressure to produce the show more quickly. I once told Hugh Laurie how we’d filmed five pages of script [in a day] on Kingdom, and he thought that was a luxury to do so few.”

Are you surprised by how successful Hugh is at playing an American in House?

“The first time I ever saw him he was doing a [Cambridge University] Footlights sketch playing an American and I thought it was the best accent I had ever heard.”

Do you get recognised much in LA?

“You have days when nobody looks at you, and days when people spot you even if you have sunglasses on and a newspaper over your face. But the average American probably doesn’t know who I am, which means I can walk around window-shopping much more than in London.”

What keeps you working so hard?

“I genuinely love what I do and the variety of the work. Of course, there are days when I wake up and feel awful because I am tired or because my condition means I’m in a state of depression, but generally that is something I can control these days.”

*Watch Stephen Fry in Bones on Sky1 on Thursday, April 30 at 9pm*