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JUN
21
10 MOS

'Drop Dead Diva': Meet the New Guardian Angel

Justin Deeley, who joins the revived Lifetime dramedy, previews the new season with THR.

Drop Dead Diva Season 5 Episodic Justin Deeley - H 2013
Annette Brown/Lifetime
Justin Deeley

Drop Dead Diva is back for season five with a new guardian angel in tow.

Justin Deeley, who recurred on The CW's 90210, will be the newest face to join the Lifetime dramedy. Drop Dead Diva centers on aspiring model Deborah "Deb" Dobkins, who was killed in a car crash and brought back to life as lawyer Jane Bingum (Brooke Elliott). Deeley takes over as Jane's guardian angel, Paul, described as a "likable free spirit" with abs of steel.

For Deeley, the casting process happened "very quickly." With pilot season over (around mid-April), his manager gave him a heads-up on the plum series-regular role. Within two weeks of the audition, he found himself "on a plane moving to Atlanta [where Drop Dead Diva films] for the summer," he tells The Hollywood Reporter.

VIDEO: 'Drop Dead Diva' Sneak Peek: Jane Frantically Searches for Owen

In a chat with THR, Deeley breaks down his character, what viewers can expect in the new season and the one scene he's the most nervous about seeing.

The Hollywood Reporter: What was your first impression of Drop Dead Diva?

Justin Deeley: When I got to the audition initially, I wasn’t familiar with [Drop Dead Diva] at all. I’d heard of it, but I didn’t watch and I had to learn what [it was] 'cause it’s a different world that the show lives in. I watched the first season in order to get myself comfortable with everything.

THR: How would you describe Paul?

Deeley: [Paul]’s very childish, and it's a lot of fun to play. Because he’s an angel, he’s coming back for a second go-around at this thing called life. He comes back in a new body with these new things he never had in the first go-around. I always say it like this, if we do come back on planet Earth when it’s all said and done, and God gives me a country music voice like Garth Brooks, I’m going to be the happiest man on the planet. Paul has got this body he never had his first time; maybe in his first life he said no to a lot of opportunities, maybe he didn’t have as much luck with girls. This time, he’s in this honeymoon phase. He’s a lot of fun to play because I've never played a comedic character.

STORY: 'Drop Dead Diva' EP Josh Berman on Budget Cuts, Cast Changes and Season 5

THR: You said you watched the first season after you were cast. What did you like about what you saw?

Deeley: I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. It just seems to me that the overall meaning behind it and what it’s going for, it’s not really about the lawyering as it is the deeper meaning behind it: the human beings and it doesn’t take itself too seriously as a lot of shows at times can. It’s a feel-good show and that’s why the fans were so loyal and brought it back, because they were so passionate about the show.

THR: Can you talk about Paul's dynamic with Jane? What’s that like?

Deeley: I’m her guardian angel, but she almost has this big-sister thing in the beginning. I’m supposed to be watching out for her, but Paul looks up to her a great deal. Because he’s an angel, he knows her life and he knows what’s going on with her. He’s enjoying this new life he’s got and he’s also trying to figure out where he fits in. As the season progresses Paul will start to get his footing a little more, and then who knows where he’s gonna go when the season ends?

THR: Will we see more shades to him as the season progresses?

Deeley: I don’t know yet. I can’t speak to that yet. We’re really not far enough ahead with my character. I’m in [episodes] one, three, four and six. Four of the first six.

THR: Is there a moment or a scene that you are looking forward to seeing?

Deeley: There’s a scene we did in the third episode where Paul is naked. I’m looking forward to seeing how that works out because it ended up being really funny and really awkward, as you can imagine. I’m very nervous to see if I’m gonna be funny. Who knows?

THR: Will Paul be causing trouble?

Deeley: Trouble? No, I don’t think he causes [trouble]. He’s not coming from any place but that of a child. You know how a 6-year-old would walk out without a bathrobe? He’d be like, "Hey mom, where’s the shampoo?" and he’s naked but he doesn’t care. Nothing’s done intentionally; he’s just trying to figure it out in the beginning.

THR: Do you interact with other members of the cast, or is it mainly Brooke right now?

Deeley: In the beginning, it’s mainly Jane and Stacy (April Bowlby) who Paul interacts with. As it goes on further I get to work with a few more people. I don’t want to give anything away ...

Drop Dead Diva returns at 9 p.m. Sunday on Lifetime.

E-mail: Philiana.Ng@thr.com
Twitter: @insidethetube