By the time it airs its series finale on Tuesday, March 28, BONES will have run for twelve seasons and 245 episodes on Fox Network. For all 245 of those episodes, Emily Deschanel has starred as Temperance “Bones” Brennan, forensic anthropologist extraordinaire, who uses her skills to solve crimes and her uncommon literal-mindedness to baffle and delight love interest/now-husband FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth, played by David Boreanaz.
In observance of its upcoming conclusion, the BONES team, including Deschanel and Hart Hanson, who developed the show based on the life and works of forensic anthropologist/novelist Kathy Reichs, participates in a Q&A panel for the winter 2017 Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour.
Later in the evening, at a party thrown by Fox for the TCA, Deschanel sits down for some one-on-one follow-up discussion about the end of her decade-plus as the ever-determined Brennan.
First up, Deschanel, Boreanaz and creator Hanson are asked their thoughts on the show coming to a close.
“Had a really good run,” Deschanel declares. “It would be ungracious of us to be fighting against them canceling us. It wasn’t our decision, but we’ve had a really great run.”
“That was a gracious way to say that,” Hanson notes.
“I’m not gracious anymore,” Deschanel replies, with a bit of a laugh. “I was gracious at one point.”
She praises the Season 12 show runners, Jonathan Collier and Michael Peterson, on how they have handled the last twelve episodes. “Michael and Jon did an incredible job of weaving in as many things as possible to end storylines and characters for us in, I think, a very satisfying way.”
A question is posed about the chemistry between Brennan and Booth. “I think it’s always been important,” Deschanel responds. “I think, though, that it’s not just our chemistry. It’s our chemistry with all of these guys,” she indicates fellow BONES regulars Michaela Conlin (Angela Montenegro), Tamara Taylor (Camille Saroyan), John Boyd (James Aubrey), plus Millegan, “and TJ [Thyne, who plays Jack Hodgins], who’s not here, and all the interns. We have such an amazing cast – it’s not just David and me. People watch the show because of these characters and their chemistry with each other and our chemistry altogether, I think, has always been really important. We’ve been lucky enough to all get along so well off-camera, as well as on camera. I marvel at the casting directors’ ability to cast people who not only are great actors in their roles, but also are such a great fit. There are fun, interesting, funny people and talented actors all over this town, but to find people that really fit into this group has been incredible, they way they’ve done that. I think people come and watch the show as much because of those characters and their relationships, and those actors bringing all they are bringing to their characters, as much as they come to watch us.”
People are asked about their favorite guest stars. There are literally hundreds to choose from, given BONES’ long life. Deschanel names former regular-returned-as guest star Eric Millegan (Dr. Zack Addy), Stephen Fry (as Dr. Gordon Gordon Wyatt). “That’s such a hard thing to say. Linda Lavin was on the show playing a judge, and I’m a huge fan of hers from when I was a kid, and I’ve stayed a little bit in touch with her. Cyndi Lauper and Betty White …”
“Hal Holbrook,” Boreanaz prompts.
“Hal Holbrook, oh, my God. What a gentleman. And June Squibb. I’ve been a fan of hers, I’ve been trying to get her on the show for so long, and then she came on this season. We [did an episode] in a retirement home, and Ed Asner, Hal Holbrook and June Squibb are there. It’s a lot of fun.”
More guest stars Deschanel recalls include, “Aaron Paul and Giancarlo Esposito from BREAKING BAD, we had Eric Stonestreet, Michael B. Jordan, Indira Varma …”
Someone mentions Ryan O’Neal, who plays Brennan’s father Max. Deschanel replies, “Hello, he’s here so much, you don’t think of him as a guest star, but [as a regular].”
“And Patricia,” Millegan notes, citing recurring actress Patricia Belcher, who has played District Attorney Caroline Julian since 2006.
“And Patricia,” Deschanel agrees.
Deschanel shares a story about how singer/songwriter Lauper came to recur as psychic Avalon Harmonia on BONES. It started when Brennan sang Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” “That episode was written before the [200-2008] writers’ strike,” Deschanel explains. “They didn’t tell me what I’d be doing. They just said, ‘There’s a talent show or something. Be surprised, be surprised.’ Then they went on strike, so you’re not allowed to talk to writers. They cannot make any changes. And I read the script, and I’m supposed to sing ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun,’ and I’m supposed to sound good. And I can carry a tune a little bit, but that is not an easy song to sing for just a normal person’s voice. Cyndi Lauper has an amazing voice, and you realized that when you try and sing that song. And I wrote a very mean email to Hanson, which he thankfully didn’t get for months, if ever, or if I told you about it.”
Hanson indicates he never got the email.
“He didn’t receive it, which is good,” Deschanel continues. “I was really hot and angry. Because why didn’t he tell me that I’d be singing a song?” He couldn’t tell her because he was on strike, and writer/actor communication was forbidden. “He could have told me ahead of time. I couldn’t change the song, because once the writers go on strike, the rule is nothing can be changed in the script, so you couldn’t change the song at all.”
However, Deschanel reveals, “Cyndi Lauper watched that episode, and then wanted to be on the show as a result – not because I sang, but because she liked it.”
“So it worked out brilliantly,” Hanson observes.
Deschanel agrees. “So there you go.”
What did Deschanel think of the BILLY ON THE STREET episode, where host Billy Eichner asked passerby about BONES? “Loved it. I thought it was hilarious. I think he’s so funny, and I just felt so honored. Even if we are the butt of the joke at times on that, it felt so fun that he included us and that some people didn’t really care about BONES on the street. Some people had no idea who were are, and that’s kind of what our show has been. Some people are passionate about the show, some people have no idea what it is, which is kind of awesome. Because I can live a fairly normal life. Half the people I encounter don’t know who I am when I go grocery shopping and stuff, which is nice. And then some people are really big fans.”
Later, Deschanel sits down to talk for a bit with Assignment X.
ASSIGNMENT X: Were there ever points where you thought, “Okay, this is the end” before it was the end?
EMILY DESCHANEL: Yes. Certainly, two years ago. There have been many other times, ends of seasons, when we didn’t know if we were picked up. From the beginning, everything was touch and go. Honestly, we’ve never really known if we had another season until we get a pickup, and only once or twice was that clear from early on in the season. One time, we got a two-year pickup, things like that. But nothing was really for sure the whole time.
AX: When Brennan and Booth both quit their respective jobs at the end of Season 10 two years ago, it was written into the Season 11 scripts that when they come back, Brennan has tremendous guilt about what happened while she was gone. When the writers wrote that Brennan and Booth were quitting, did you think, “Aren’t they going to feel terrible if something happens while they’re gone?”
DESCHANEL: Oh, I didn’t think about that, but I thought, “Well, they’re not going to quit for long. This is who they are.” That was one of those things they write at the end of a season when you don’t know if you’re coming back, et cetera, but I never believed they would last long not doing the jobs that they are born to do.
AX: Did you get to do everything you wanted to do as Brennan, or are there things you would have liked to see her do?
DESCHANEL: If there are things I’d like to do, I can’t think of them. So I think that’s pretty good. There’s never been anything that I’ve been dying to do that I haven’t been able to do. We did so many different episodes and so many different things. Two hundred and forty-five episodes.
AX: Was there anything you had to do in BONES that you wish you hadn’t had to do?
DESCHANEL: [laughs] Maybe work with snakes. Although I’m glad I faced my fear of that. I don’t know. Wearing that jumpsuit over and over again. I don’t really regret anything, even if some things are not as comfortable or pleasant as I’d like them to be, but I still feel like it’s worthwhile on a certain level.
AX: And over the twelve years of dealing with fake dead bodies, was there anything that especially grossed you out?
DESCHANEL: Oh, my God, yes, so many things, although I’ve definitely become desensitized to at least fake dead bodies. A couple things grossed me out. One was when I had to put on a “skin hand” – the skin of a hand that had been rehydrated, and I put it on as if it was a glove. It was a human skin glove. I didn’t eat my lunch then. And then there was an episode where there was a coral implant in a bone and that just freaked me out – something about the porous-ness of the coral just grossed me out.
AX: And in the twelve seasons, do you have a favorite moment or favorite episode?
DESCHANEL: Oh, there are so many episodes, so many moments. Well, the episode with the wedding was pretty monumental for our characters, so I’d have to say that. I will look back so fondly on the time spent in between shots with my cast members, laughing, work, or trying to keep from cracking up when Tamara can’t keep a straight face and starts laughing, or there are so many moments when David has directed episodes, where he’s really sat down and talked about where we’ve come from and where we are now. And also watching everybody do their jobs so well. I don’t know. There are so many moments.
AX: You made your episodic directing debut with the Season 12 premiere. How did you enjoy directing?
DESCHANEL: I loved it. I thought it was a great experience, something I could draw from so many things I’ve learned, both from David Boreanaz, my costar, directing, who is a fabulous director, as well as watching a bunch of other directors over all these seasons. And I loved using my brain in a different way. After a while, as unique as each episode is, you’re still playing the same character and still acting, and there are limitations to that, so I really enjoyed kind of breaking free of that and getting to use my mind in a different way.
AX: Is that something you want to pursue?
DESCHANEL: Yeah, I would. I would like to do more directing.
AX: Do you have a different affect with your coworkers when you are directing?
DESCHANEL: Well, not a different affect, I wouldn’t think. I would say, it’s more just because I’m putting on another hat, to talk to them in a different way about things that I wouldn’t be talking with them about if I’m not directing [laughs], so I got to talk with them about the scene in a certain way that I might not as an actor, and give insights to the character, as well as just give them space to do what they do so well. And then also it was just really nice to be on set with everybody in a different capacity, and to spend time with the crew members, who I work with but not in the same capacity as a director. So I loved that.
AX: Do you know what you’re doing next?
DESCHANEL: Right now, I’ve told everyone to just leave me alone and I want to just hang out with my kids, and spend some time for myself as well. There’s so much time I’ve missed with my kids, and there’s so much time I’ve missed for myself. I’m going to go away to a spa, I’m going to take time for myself. But I’m also enjoying putting my kids to bed. My kids got sick twice over the break, and I was there to take care of them, which I loved.
AX: And what would you most like people to know about BONES?
DESCHANEL: Wow. I would like them to know that we worked so hard on the show, and it was all for our fans, and we really hope that they are satisfied by the last twelve episodes that we’ve done.
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Article: BONES: Star Emily Deschanel on THE FINAL CHAPTER of the hit Fox series – exclusive interview