in Costume for "Mr. Monk
and the Really, Really Dead Guy"
Photo by Peter James Smith
Smith will be guest starring as
Agent Keao in "Mr. Monk and
the Really, Really Dead Guy"
this week's (February 23rd) episode
of Monk on USA 9pET/8pCT.
kindly agreed to an MFP interview
and we spoke on Saturday... but
first a little biographical info
I've gathered from across the internet
(mostly from the IMDB,
website, and his MySpace
|He was born February
20th 1971 on a U.S. Air Force base
in Taipei, Taiwan.
“I am half Chinese.” Peter writes
in his blog. “My mom tells
me that while she was growing up
in Taiwan, people never asked, ‘How
old are you?’ They asked,
‘What sign are you?’
Since each sign is 12 years apart,
one can figure out someone's age
that way. I am a pig...or a boar.”
probably best known for his role
as the Congressional liaison Ed
for seven seasons.
He also appeared in the 2005 film
directed by Joss “Buffy,
The Vampire Slayer
“I'm an actor,”
he writes on his Myspace um…
space. [I really have to look into
this Myspace thing.] “Some
of the things I enjoy are films,
theater, walking, KCRW,
my ipod, food (trying new recipes
and discovering new restaurants),
reading, yoga, and being a tourist
in whatever town I'm living in.”
Chris Williams, Peter
and Jason Gray-Stanford in
"Mr. Monk and the Really Really Dead
February 17, 2007
a few technical "glitches" we
got right down to business.
you’re going to be on the next episode
of Monk airing this Friday?
Yes, I’m very excited about it.
They just posted the
clip on the USA
Network website. [Peter is the
F.B.I. guy with the gadget in the clip.]
there anything in particular about the
role that made you think you’d be
good for it?
Hmmm. That’s a good question. I
guess a lot of people find that my kind
of deadpan delivery and sense of humor
works for me well and it seemed to fit
that character pretty well: he’s
a kind of no nonsense type. And you know
I was interested just because Monk
has got so much great acclaim. The casting
[Colloff] and Amy
[Britt], I’d worked with them
last year on a movie called Serenity
so they thought of me when this role came
out. So that was nice of them.
That was a science fiction film, right?
[Based on the short-lived Firefly
series, if I remember correctly.]
It was a science fiction film directed
you were familiar with Monk before
you got the role?
Yes. I don’t actually have cable,
but I’ve seen a couple of episodes
and at friend’s houses. And of course
I see it win all
those awards, because I watch all
the awards shows.
was your first audition like for
That’s actually kind of an
interesting little bit. When one
auditions if the casting office
isn’t familiar with you, they’ll
have you read for an assistant first
before you go in and meet the producers
and directors. Since I had been
cast in Serenity I assumed that
I would be going straight to the
but when I arrived it was just the assistant
in the room and I was a little confused,
but I went ahead and auditioned and he
said, “Great job.” And it
turns out that I just had the wrong building.
[laughs] He said, “Why don’t
you go over next door to the producer’s
session?” I’m like, “Oh,
I thought I was at the producer’s
session. He said “You did a great
job. Just do the same thing and you should
guess he was right.
He was right.
was your concept of the character?1
Concept of the character? Well, after
reading the script, I mean he’s
really no nonsense. He’s very into
his electronics and computers. So I just
kind of took a cue from that and made
him a little, not mechanical per se, but
probably less emotional than your average
that’s kind of the conflict of the
episode the technical gadgetry versus
Yes. I would say that is definitely the
do you think you brought to the character
that wasn’t in the script?
Well, this is something that I tried and
I don’t know if they are going to
keep it, because editing can do wonders,
but there was definitely my character’s
version of flirtation with the Traylor
Howard character. I think whenever she
spoke or whenever I would talk to her
I would kind of get this little smile
or something and in my mind it was him
flirting with her. I don’t know
if that comes across, it might come off
kind of odd which is fine… for the
character. I have no idea if they’re
going to keep those moments in but I tried.
Traylor is pretty noticeably
pregnant in this episode, right?
What? What do you mean? Just because she’s
holding clip boards in front of her belly,
doesn’t mean a thing.
right. Okay. Any chance that your
character will return?
I haven’t been told that it
would. One of the reasons that I
added the little crush on Traylor
was hoping for “Hey, that’s
interesting maybe we’ll bring
him back.” I haven’t
heard anything yet, but there’s
always a possibility.
character, despite being in conflict
with Monk, is a good guy, right?
He tries to be definitely. He thinks he’s
a good guy. He just has very different
was your first impression of the Monk
Well my first day was on location in downtown
L.A. outside and it was a big day, lots
of extras and lots of action and a big
wide kind of park setting. We pretty much
had to get down to business right away
because there’s so many things,
so many variables on a day like that.
But they were welcoming and professional
and there was definitely joke telling
behind the scenes which always is…
I don’t know what word I want to
use… a nice distraction while you’re
waiting in the sun and stuff between takes.
who’s the funniest member of the
Well, my gosh. Each one has their own
kind of style, but Ted Levine definitely
told the most jokes. Which I have repeated
and they always are a huge hit. They are
you give me an example of a Ted Levine
Hmmm… A little too racy I think.
so where were your scenes filmed?
We had a couple of on location days in
downtown L.A. near City Hall and locations
kind of in the Hollywood area of L.A.
in the neighborhood and then the rest
of it on the sound stage which is in Hollywood.
long did that take?
The episode took eight days to film and
I think I worked seven out of those eight
days with one day off in the middle somewhere.
was your experience like as a guest on
Monk compared with working on
The West Wing? Was it more or
less pressure, more or less fun?
seven seasons on The West Wing
it became fairly less stressful than your
average job. On West Wing, I
don’t know if you saw my stuff there,
but I would come in maybe one or two scenes
and have a line or two, just kind of be
support for the rest of the staff. So
I got used to that rhythm. So having the
multi scenes in Monk and having
the technical jargon to spew out….
I mean the director, Tony, was probably
one of the more supportive directors I’ve
worked with. He was very complimentary.
He was very supportive. He noticed the
little things I did like the Traylor stuff,
the crush. Who knows if it will make it,
but it was nice to be noticed.
you have any anecdotes about the
I can’t really think of anything.
I mean I thought that audition story
was funny. And I definitely made
friends with some of the people
who played the bodies in the morgue.
do you qualify for that role?
[laughs] I’m not actually
sure. I didn’t ask that,
but you know they had to stay
pretty still and they’re
lying on the cold hard metal thing
for upwards of more than an hour
sometimes for takes. But they’re
good natured and they were having
a great time.
done lots of stage, film and television.
What do you like the best? Which
was most rewarding?
Interesting. Stage is kind of
where I started so I definitely
have a special place for that,
but one of things I love about
film and TV is that I can actually
see my work. In theater it’s
pretty much impossible. Even videotaped
versions of plays just don’t
have that same quality of seeing
something live. They’re
both rewarding for different reasons.
I mean with plays I tend to have
larger parts and get to really
sink my teeth into a character.
That’s comparing, like right
now in my mind, the stuff in West
Wing where I come in and
say “We’re down in
the polls” or “We
need to change this line in the
speech.” There wasn’t
a lot of prep for that. But just
being a part of something that’s
so big like West Wing
or even Monk it feels
good. They both have their rewards.
what led you to acting?
What led me into acting? Well,
I don’t really have a solid
answer, I have theories. My mom
wanted to be a singer when she
was growing up. My dad wanted
to be a professional athlete.
So there was always, it seems,
kind of an audience craving in
my family. I’m going to
be a little philosophical here
I think it was Jung that said,
“There’s no greater
influence on a child than the
unlived dream of the parents,”
watched a lot of TV growing up,
it was kind of my babysitter,
and there was this
one episode of M*A*S*H
where there was a Korean orphan
I think Trapper was about to adopt.
I was a young Asian kid at the
time and I saw this young Asian
kid on TV playing this orphan
on M*A*S*H and I think
it was the first connection I
had with thinking, oh I can do
that. Yeah, that was probably
the first little click in my head.
have been your role models?
I can’t think of any off
hand, I do admire certain actors,
I think Miranda
Richardson is great. She’s
a chameleon with each part that
she does. And then Gary
Oldman back when he was still
living in Britain, doing British
films. I always very much admire
any actor who can be unrecognizable
from part to part.
think Tony Shalhoub can do that?
from what I’ve seen of him.
He can really control like his
little mannerisms and tics for
his character and make them really
was your best acting experience?
what’s been a high point
of my career or an actual moment
moment of acting… or a high
point… or both.
Actual moment of acting? It might have
been when I did a one man show
when I lived in San Diego. There
were moments after the end of
the show when people would come
up. This one particular woman
I remember had tears in her eye
and told me how much she liked
it. I guess my theater experience
in San Diego is probably so far
my most rewarding because I got
to do a lot of different characters
for really appreciative audiences.
in San Diego you worked at a theater
Daniels, is that right?
Peter James Smith
on Stage in San Diego
in Veronica Mars and as Sweeney
Yeah, do you know him?
Mars, which I’m
a big fan of.
Veronica Mars for the first couple
seasons was shot in San Diego
so I saw a lot people I know in
most disappointing part of the
third season is that he’s
not in it.
Oh, I’ll let him know that.
Then as far as career-wise I would
have to say it was being on stage
at the Emmys when West Wing
won Best Drama for season four.
That was pretty exciting.
fun was that, just going to the
It was great. It was a lot of
fun, it was kind of unreal and
then, you know, I was very excited
because the next day on the front
of the LA times they had a picture
of the whole cast on stage and
you could just see the top of
my head. So I was sending the
photo out via email to everybody.
what was your worst acting experience?
Well. I’m not going to name
names or theaters, but there was
one play I did once where…
how do I describe the experience?
It was with a theater company
that I was not a member of so
I was kind of you know an outside
hire. So they were supportive
of their own members but not so
much of the new guy.
didn’t have that kind of
experience on Monk though, right?
No, not at all. Actually I sent
a note recently to the production
office to thank them and to say
how it was probably one of the
more supportive sets I’ve
been on. It was great.
you have any upcoming projects?
Peter: Nothing slated as far as TV,
film or theater, but I’m
involved with a couple of writing
groups and theater companies where
I’m always doing staged
readings. We do a reading once
a week for the audience to give
us feedback and I’m always
doing something with that. I love
getting in on the ground floor
of new writing and new work so
I’m doing a lot of work
with them right now. Playwrights
6 is probably the main group
that I’m involved with.
I’ve reached the end of
my list of questions, but if there’s
anything you’d like to add?
Gosh, I can’t think of anything.
I’m thrilled that you contacted
me. How did you find me?
put your contact information on
How’d you find my website?
just did a search on your name [I googled
him, what else?], and it popped up.
And I found your name on captions of
pictures they released for "Really
Oh, where would I find those pictures?
the NBC Universal media village site.
if I can’t find those pictures,
I may send you an email to ask for a
And did you take any pictures yourself
on the set when you were there?
[laughs] Yes, I did as a matter of fact.
In my cop outfit and then a couple of
the morgue set and there’s this
nice shot I got of Chris Williams my
co-star sitting off the set with a dummy
next to him and there’s a scene
where we use a dummy.
if any of those pictures are digital
that you have, I would love to have
Okay, cool. I have your email address
digitally recording this, so I’ll
send you the file and whatever I transcribe
which will probably be a little different.
Sure. You’ll make me sound
more charming. [Actually,
that wasn't necessary.]
And I’ll make me sound less
stuttering and kind of smooth
you going to put in the three
phone calls at the beginning?
Well great. This was a lot of fun.
thank you very much, Peter and for putting
up with the technical difficulties at
problem. I’ll send you those photos
and I’ll go looking for those
NBC Universal ones.
Photos taken by Peter
on set with his cell phone including
a detail from the morgue set (left),
Chris Williams — and one version
of the really, really dead guy in Culver
and Los Angeles City Hall--one of the
Click to enlarge.