In SCORPION, now in its third season Monday nights on CBS, Eddie Kaye Thomas plays Dr. Toby Curtis. Toby is the expert in psychology among the team of unruly geniuses headed by Walter O’Brien (played by Elyes Gabel). Even with his insights into others, Toby has his own issues. He has been battling a gambling addiction and is now engaged to fellow Scorpion member and engineering whiz Happy Quinn (Jadyn Wong), who had previously married Walter so that Walter could get a green card. Happy had thought she was pregnant; she and Toby were disappointed to learn that she was instead suffering symptoms of exposure to a toxin.
Thomas, a professional actor since the age of ten, has been an integral part of both the AMERICAN PIE and HAROLD & KUMAR comedy film franchises. On TV, the native New Yorker has been a regular in multiple series, including OFF CENTRE, ‘TIL DEATH and HOW TO MAKE IT IN AMERICA.
At a breakfast in West Hollywood, arranged by CBS for its actors and the Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour, Thomas finishes chatting with CODE BLACK’s Luis Guzman to talk Toby.
ASSIGNMENT X: Are you surprised or just gratified that SCORPION has made it to Season 3?
EDDIE KAYE THOMAS: I’m surprised only in that I’m an actor, so these things don’t happen. I was just talking to Luis about it. It’s so special to get on something that stays, that you believe in, and that people respond to as well.
AX: Do the writers warn you in advance with plot twists that are going to affect Toby, like, “Toby’s going to fall in love with Happy, Happy’s going to be pregnant, no, she’s not pregnant …”?
THOMAS: Only if I get an opportunity to see the show runners – they’re so busy – and then I needle them for some details of what’s going to happen. So every time we open a script, it’s a big surprise. But I have some long-term things that I know are going to happen.
AX: As far as Toby’s place within the team, how would you say that’s changed over time?
THOMAS: I think the drama that arises amongst the team – sometimes the difficulty that the team goes through, like Toby and Walter not meeting eye to eye, and the love stuff happening, the difficulties make them get stronger and have them grow closer and more comfortable with each other. So I think, as actors and as characters, we’re just getting more comfortable and know our places better.
I love the fact that there are so many different dynamics, that I get to do some comedy with Robert Patrick, I get to do romance with Jadyn, I get to do comedy with Ari [Stidham], and me and Kat [McPhee] have been doing a lot of stuff together. So that’s a real blessing of the show, that we never feel like we’re doing the same thing. They’re always mixing and matching the characters. And everyone is so specific, and all the characters are so unique, that everybody’s different.
AX: Was there anything you had to learn how to do in order to play Toby?
THOMAS: I’ve had to learn how to learn my dialogue over the weekend, I’ve had to learn how to conserve my energy, and I’ve had to learn to do my best to stay in shape when you’re shooting all the time. That’s the real challenge of the show.
AX: What’s the most physically complicated thing you’ve had to do so far?
THOMAS: Just the long shooting days. I mean that. [In the story], there’s always a bomb about to go off, we’re always on the edge of our seats, so every time they yell “Action,” we have to get to that energy level, and you’ve always got to be ready for that “Action.” But sometimes we fail, and the director has to say, “Guys, there’s a nuclear bomb headed for L.A. Get more intense.” And it’s how to be able to stay, how to go to that level, ten, twelve hours into working.
AX: How did you feel about the plotline where it turned out that Happy was already married? Did you guess the husband was Walter?
THOMAS: Oh, I knew. They just told me right away. It was fun knowing and the rest of the world not knowing.
AX: Is it difficult to do days where Toby is literally tied to a chair? Do they let you up between takes?
THOMAS: I think it was only a day-and-a-half. It only got difficult when they had all that dental floss around me, because in order to leave, they had to untie me, and I had to crawl on the floor through all that stuff. But the special effects, the production design, all that stuff is so incredible in the show that it makes it a lot of fun, that they do such a good job with that stuff. You read, you’re surrounded by dental floss. What’s that going to look like? And then they do a brilliant job with it.
AX: How do you feel about the hat that Toby often wears?
THOMAS: The hat was my idea. It’s always up to me whether I wear it or not. So what’s good is, if the show stays on long enough, and I’m bald at some point, I can just keep the hat on and hide my bald spots.
AX: No spoilers, but in what’s aired so far, what are you happiest about?
THOMAS: I think I just like the way the characters are continuing to face problems with each other, and we’re maintaining our original intention of these people, with the most brilliant minds in the world, who don’t know how to interact with regular people, and the difficulties of being a genius.
AX: Is it a stretch that Toby is a behaviorist and still doesn’t quite know how to interact with others?
THOMAS: I don’t think so at all. I don’t know about you, but I always find that the children of therapists always seem to be the most challenged in terms of dealing with life’s problems. Sometimes the teacher is the last person to learn the lesson.
AX: Are you gratified by the fan response to SCORPION?
THOMAS: Very much so. We shoot so much in L.A. that I don’t get a chance to see it too much, but over the holidays, I was traveling in Florida and New York, and it’s a show that people are really responding to and loving. As an ego boost and a gratifying thing, it’s so nice to be a part of something people identify with.
AX: And what would you most like people to know about Season 3 of SCORPION?
THOMAS: Stay tuned. Every episode we’re doing now is building toward a really spectacular season finale that I’m really excited about.
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Article: SCORPION: Eddie Kaye Thomas talks Toby in Season 3 – exclusive interview