Funny and poignant moments from the set
"In the season finale, my character watches the love of his life blow up in an airplane on tape. I spend 70 hours a week trying to be this person -- and when we did the take, I completely broke down and was inconsolable for 10 minutes. There was no boundary between pretending and reality. You move so fast in television that I couldn't have any expectations about how I would play that scene -- expectations will get you into trouble -- so I just did my homework, and that's what happened. It's one of those moments that were just the culmination of the work I'd put into the character, and it all came out at one time, involuntarily."
"I will never live down the audience taping during which I was suddenly incapable of pronouncing the word 'prepared.' It had not been a problem during our previous week of rehearsal--or the previous 33 years of my life. Making matters worse, it was by far the easiest word within a soliloquy chock full of physics babble. Retakes two, three and four I was able to pull off as endearing with the help of the live crowd, who adore almost any type of flub. But during retakes five, six ... eight, an odd mental phenomenon began to occur. I realized I was only in my own way and that if I took a deep, calming breath and found confidence, I'd be able to speak this simple word. Then we moved on to retakes 12, 13 ... 15. A week doesn't pass without a cast or crew member recounting this nightmare."
"Bruce Campbell (Sam) had to flip someone over his shoulder -- his character is a former Navy SEAL -- so he said he'd do it, he didn't want the stunt guy to do it. So he flipped the guy, and they said, 'Great! We want you to do it one more time.' And he said, 'Sure.' So he flipped the guy one more time, and they said, 'Why don't we do it one more time?' And he said, 'Sure!' And lo and behold, he's flipping, and he pulled his hamstring so badly that for the rest of the episode he never walks in any of the scenes, he's always leaning on a pole or a stool or sitting. I have to bust his chops on this. That was totally the funniest thing I saw this past year."
"There were a lot of funny moments, but certainly the most dramatic was when my friend Nora (O'Brien, NBC executive) passed away while we were making the pilot. (Director) Tommy Schlamme was down playing basketball with her, and she had a heart attack, and we were all there when she passed away. She was a one-of-a kind network executive who really cared about the audience; I met her while doing a miniseries called 'The Lost Room.' She pursued me very heavily for that, and we spent several months filming it in New Mexico and just had a great time. I didn't feel quite centered for a long time after (O'Brien's death). Having done five seasons of 'Six Feet Under,' I had seen many 'dead' bodies, but I had never seen anyone die in front of me, much less one of my close friends."
"I'm kind of a prankster. Cory Monteith (Finn) had this fancy-ass sports car that Audi let him borrow for two weeks. So on the last day he had it, Lea Michele (Rachel) parked next to it, and I had the transport department put these long stickers on the side of the car to make it look like someone had scratched his car all the way down and put a little piece of the sticker on Lea's bumper to make it look like she did it. He flipped out, but then he looked more closely and saw a bubble on the sticker and pulled it away and went, 'You guys!' Phase 2 was getting Lea to see it, and it was torturous to watch her; she was a mess. When she found out (it was a joke), she threw her sandwich on the ground and stormed away--but she was laughing."
"The most dramatic moment, and the most memorable, was being able to do the last scene of Leonard Nimoy's career with him. (Nimoy played Dr. Bell for four episodes and announced his retirement from acting after the show.) He was retiring after 60 years of working. I felt very touched to be able to do that with him, and we did some dramatic things with his character's final exit. He was fantastic. Obviously, an era was coming to an end, and he very much enjoyed working on the show. For me, Spock was part of my growing up. He was this legendary character that happened in another universe called America, and to a country kid growing up in Australia, to finally get on the page with him was a very special thing."
"It's an absolute shock to the system to transition from television to film, and now I'm just trying to figure out how to pace myself for 22 episodes. Literally, there were times when I found myself dozing off during a scene--not because of what the actors were doing but because it was two in the morning and you still have a long way to go. At the upfronts, I had a conversation with Kiefer (Sutherland, '24'), and he said it's really a stamina thing. He said, 'Don't think about it as film, because it's a different job.' Now, when I do sleep for real, I sometimes dream about organizing shots that don't exist--and this happens even after we've wrapped!"
"I wanted to be a clown when I grew up; being a clown on primetime TV was really cool (in the 'Fizbo' episode). 'Fizbo' was what my dad had named me when I was 9. The writers knew I was a clown -- I had applied to clown college but was rejected twice -- but the other actors didn't. The whole experience also offered me the opportunity to scare the holy s*** out of Sarah (Hyland, who plays Haley), because she's scared to death of clowns. I made it my mission to be standing on a corner when she walked in the room -- she wouldn't know I was in the room, she's always texting, like her character -- so she'd be looking down, and I'd be standing there waiting for five minutes until she'd make eye contact with me. I got her at least 12 times."