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Lex Medlin was this close to playing a woman on the fifth season of Drop Dead Diva.
The actor portrays Owen on the Lifetime TV series, and in last season’s finale, it appeared that Old Jane had returned to Earth in his body following Owen’s heart attack after witnessing his fiancée, New Jane (Brooke Elliott), kissing Grayson (Jackson Hurst) on their wedding day.
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But, as viewers saw in the fifth-season premiere, Owen is his old self — only he’s not ready to forgive Jane for what she did.
After Sunday’s episode, Medlin spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about nearly playing a women, Owen’s feeling for Jane and what’s ahead for their relationship.
The Hollywood Reporter: When did you find out that Old Jane wasn’t in Owen’s body?
Lex Medlin: I felt like we shot it that way [with Old Jane coming back in Owen’s body]. We didn’t use a crane shot from the roof that implied something entering Owen’s body. But I also knew the show might not go that way. It’s not afraid to go into any direction you might not believe. So we got canceled, and I told Josh [Berman, creator and executive producer], “You gotta give me the heads-up on which way you’re going to go. If I’m playing a woman, as an actor that’s very enticing to me, but I need two months to prep. If not, that’s fine because I’m very curious what happens with Owen. But you gotta let me know either way.” After we were canceled, I knew there were talks going on. I went to Josh’s house and had dinner with him in the middle of our cancellation and said, “Let me know now.” He told me then what was going to happen, and I said, “OK, great.”
THR: So you hadn’t been leaning one way or the other?
Medlin: I kept myself in the middle so I wouldn’t get enticed either way. The only thing that made it more interesting as a woman was that I needed to prep more, and I needed to know one way or the other. But I stayed in the middle, so I knew I would be happy either way. I didn’t let myself get attached to either direction. That was my little safety mechanism.
THR: You referred to a shot that wasn’t used in the fourth-season finale. Can you explain what that was?
Medlin: We shot it a couple different ways. We had the camera right there and I opened my eyes. In another one, we had a crane shot that basically came down on me and then I opened my eyes; to me, that implied something entering my body. But we didn’t end up using that shot. It was ambiguous, which I think is what they wanted.
THR: When Jane and Owen finally get to talk, he says, “I loved you so much.” Does that mean he doesn’t love her anymore, or is he just confused about his feelings?
Medlin: I think Owen has never been in love, and I think this is the first time he has ever had his heart broken like this. I think he is completely confused. I went to my own life for that; I’ve had my heart broken a couple times, and I was totally confused. I didn’t always behave with the most maturity, unfortunately, but I came out on the other side. But where he is, he is utterly heartbroken. Actually, at the end of episode three, I have a teeny little monologue that I say to Jane that sums up where he’s at. It turned out pretty good. That will really give an idea of where he is at emotionally and mentally.
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THR: Owen also says he “can’t have this conversation” with Jane right now. I assume they eventually do?
Medlin: They’re going to have to. At some point, they have to discuss what happened. I never want to give anything away; I truly want everyone to have the experience with this show that I do when I get the scripts. The thing he said at the end was, “I can’t have this conversation. I don’t want to say anything I’m going to regret.” Obviously he does want to have the conversation, but he doesn’t want to right then.
THR: Owen also says he’s very angry, but he still jumps in and helps with her case, just like before. So clearly there are still feelings there.
Medlin: When I first signed on to the show, before he and Jane were a couple, he would go to Jane’s courtroom just to watch her work. He’s absolutely in love with the law; that’s always his first love and one of the things he loves about Jane. I mean, come on, the woman never loses! She’s amazing! (Laughs.) I think he can’t just make that go away. He’s absolutely still in love with her legal mind.
THR: Owen wasn’t in this episode very much. Will viewers see more of him in subsequent episodes?
Medlin: The next one is a little light too, but in episodes three, four and five, I’m very heavily in. I have more in those, which is normal in any show. With the exception of Jane — Brooke is there all the time, she’s the hardest-working woman in show business — some episodes are heavier or lighter for everyone.
THR: Where were you when you found out Drop Dead Diva had been revived by Lifetime? [The series was canceled in January as talks with studio Sony Pictures TV about cost-cutting options stalled; it was renewed in March.]
Medlin: It was in pilot season, and I was not having a good time. Pilot season for me is really rough, and I was standing in my kitchen at 4:00 [p.m.] on a Friday. I live in the [San Fernando] Valley, and I had a 6:00 [p.m.] pilot audition. I’d had one in the morning, and another one at Sony. The idea of getting on the 405 to spend two hours to go to another pilot audition and then get back in my car and drive back home on the 405 was daunting. So somebody leaked the news [of the renewal], and somebody sent me a link or something, and the next thing I know, my people called me and said, “Yeah, this is breaking.” My very first response was, “I don’t have to go to this audition, right?” And they said, “No, you should probably go,” and I said, “No, I probably shouldn’t. I am going to get my wife and kids and have a giant celebratory dinner and see what you can confirm so I don’t have to get on the 405.” (Laughs.) They very quickly confirmed it, and my initial relief was not having to be in pilot season. Then I also wanted to find out what happened with Owen.
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THR: Is there anything else you can reveal about upcoming episodes?
Medlin: I truly don’t want to give anything away. I want people to have the same experience I do; my own wife doesn’t even know what happens this year. I don’t want to give anything away, but the love triangle [Jane-Owen-Grayson] keeps developing. I don’t know what happens overall this season; I’ve seen up to script eight. But in typical Diva fashion, things happen you don’t expect. I’ve gotten surprised a couple of times: “That’s what we’re doing? Wow.” I have no idea where it will end whatsoever.
Drop Dead Diva airs at 9 p.m. Sundays on Lifetime.
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