An Interview With David Shore and Odette Annable of House

The creator of House and the show's newest cast member talk about what's in store for the new season.

By , Columnist
On September 26, one week before the start of House's eighth season, Odette Annable, who plays Dr. Jessica Adams, the newest member of House's team, and David Shore, Executive Producer and creator of the series, sat down with journalists for a lively, informative conference call. Here's a good-sized part of that conversation.

In case you were wondering, yes, these are spoiler infested waters.

Odette, How is it working with Hugh Laurie?

OA: Hugh’s fantastic. I couldn’t help but to be nervous at first. To me working with Hugh and just to get to know him as an actor and as a person, he really blew me away. He may be one of my favorite actors I’ve ever worked with. He’s so generous and so talented and so easy to work with. It’s been a pleasure, so far.

Can we expect to see you around for the full season?

OA: I’m around for most of the season, yeah. I guess it’ll be determined later how many episodes I will actually be in. Yeah, you’ll see me stick around for a little while.

We’ve seen House angry, hurt, and depressed but never so overwhelmingly sad as in the season eight opener. That sense of sadness seems to have taken a lot of fire out of him. Could you discuss House’s mindset in this episode and if he’ll be better emotionally further into the season?

DS: I didn’t think of him as being overwhelmingly sad. We threw him into a different environment and different environments call for different reactions. He’s got it more or less under control. Unlike in any other situation, he does have to behave himself. He’s in prison and that’s a challenge for House. And so playing with that challenge was challenging.shore.jpg

I did not think he was overwhelmingly sad. I thought there were clearly issues there. But going forward we’re going to get him back into the hospital quickly and we are going to get back to kind of the fun at the root of the show.

Will you be writing an episode solo this season?

DS: Maybe. The last couple of years, my job was to make sure the scripts were all up to the level we expect on the show. I rewrite every script to a greater or lesser extent, and I’ve been quite happy in that role.

The show requires a lot of research and I don’t have a lot of time for that research, so for that simple reason I haven’t been writing a lot from scratch. If it turns out that this is the final season, which is yet to be determined, I may well write the last one.

The show has been a lot about House rehabilitating in some way. Are we going to see some permanent changes in his behavior from his stay in prison?

DS: One of House’s several mantras on this show is that nobody changes. I think that’s largely true. I think that the show has been about a guy who’s striving to change and failing for the most part, and that that is human nature. It’s really about the striving to be different. You’re not going to see a different House this year. On a very fundamental level I don’t want to do that. I like him. I think the audience likes him.

I think what happened was last year he tried to change, and I think this year that was stupid, on a certain level.  We’re not going to get bogged down with that.

I just opened myself up to being misquoted. I’m not saying last year was stupid. I’m not even saying the [House/Cuddy] relationship was stupid. I think the relationship was great but it didn’t work out, so House’s reaction to that is to not go down that path again so fast.

Odette, did you have a big adjustment playing a doctor and learning medical terms?

OA: Absolutely. At first, I got the scripts probably a few days before shooting so I didn’t have time to throw myself into that world. But we do have some great researchers on the show and some great medical types who are on hand every single second, whenever you need them. So prepare with them. I do my own research. It’s sort of episode by episode because we really don’t know where our characters are going and what we’re going to be doing per episode.odette.jpg

David, you said you won’t keep [House] in prison for long. Will you expand on that?

DS: We wanted to do two things this year. We didn’t want it to be trivial. We wanted him to be appropriately punished, but we also didn’t want to do a prison show. So we had a bit of a dilemma.

He will be out in episode two but we had it take place over time, which has been helpful for a number of reasons. A lot has changed in our hospital, which I think is great.

The first episode takes place months after the end of last season, and then the next episode takes place a decent amount of time after the first episode. House’s world has changed and in the subsequent episode we’ve gone back into his revised old world.

How would you feel if this was the final season of the show?

DS: It’s always sad in some ways but eight years, nine years, ten years, whatever this turns out to be, it’s been a tremendous luxury. It’s been way more than I could have possibly imagined. It’s been unbelievable. I’ve been extremely lucky as a writer to have been able to explore this character for one year never mind eight. So we’ve got to focus on the positive.

Will Olivia Wilde be appearing in full capacity on the show this season?

Olivia will be in very few episodes this year. Not for creative reasons but because she’s got a very thriving movie career and has asked to be allowed to do that. We had a great association with her and we do have an episode planned, which is kind of a goodbye episode.

A couple of years ago we had an episode that focused on Wilson and then we had “5 to 9” with Cuddy. Is there any chance we’ll see episodes focusing on Foreman or Chase, where we see their work day more from their perspective than House’s?

Nothing is firmed up on that but that is something that we talk about on a regular basis in the writers room. The Wilson one was first and we liked it a lot. We did the Cuddy one and we liked that too. I think it’s a great way [for it] to still be our show and yet get a different perspective on it. So absolutely, we would love to do another one with somebody else.

Odette, what makes this role different from the ones you’ve had in the past?

OA: It’s a little bit different from the one in Kindergarten Cop! This is unlike anything I’ve ever done. I feel so lucky thus far in my career to have not have been stereotyped and been able to do a little bit of everything. This is a television show that is of the highest caliber in writing and acting. It’s so flawlessly executed. It’s definitely been the biggest challenge that I have had yet in my career. I’m embracing it and I’m taking it in, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity.

Are there any episodes coming up that you think might be a game changer?

DS: No, we haven’t done any good ones this year. Um... that was a joke. They’re all my babies. They really are. I pride myself on every single episode of this show and I strive to make them as good as they can be. I think we’re doing some really interesting stuff at the beginning of this year, bringing House into a new environment, bringing him back to the same environment but it’s new.

The funny thing is on this show it’s those departure episodes, which I think we do a really nice job of, that get a lot of attention. But I think it’s the regular, everyday episodes that are the greatest challenge and, in a weird way, I take the greatest pride in because that is the challenge of series TV. It’s taking that environment, that environment that you spend your life in, and making it new and fresh and interesting week in and week out. I pride myself on what myself and our writers have done.

With Cuddy gone and Wilson keeping his distance, will House push more boundaries than ever this season?

DS: House is always going to push boundaries with or without Wilson. He’s going to have to earn Wilson back. He will. I’m going to give that away. Spoiler alert. He will win Wilson back. House is always going to be House is the short answer to that question. It doesn’t matter what environment he’s in. It’s just a question of whether he can get away with it, to what extent he can get away with it without going back to prison.

How has working with House changed Dr. Jessica Adams’s ways of practicing medicine?

OA: I think she’s used to being the smartest person in the room. Now she will be the second smartest person in the room. She knows that when she meets House. She doesn’t have his experience or wisdom or knowledge yet but she’s truly fascinated by him as a doctor.

The interesting thing about her is that she’s fortunate to be in a financial situation where she doesn’t have to work but she wants to. She’s there to learn. He revives something she thought maybe she was losing. She’s an overachiever with a cause and her cause is to help people. You’ll see in the first episode how she and House help each other. It will definitely be an interesting relationship.

What’s the biggest change for House this season?

DS: Everything’s changed. Unlike in previous years, we sort of picked an individual thing to change. This year, for reasons largely beyond our control, we are going to bring back House to his old world having months and months pass. The dynamics within that world have completely changed. Everybody has moved on and he’s got to try and get back to a place where he feels comfortable.

Did you always know House would end up in prison when he drove his car through Cuddy’s house or was that something that came to you over the summer when you found out about the cast changes?

DS: You never know anything for sure. We knew he’d wind up in prison. We had some debate internally over whether to keep him away for a while but we quickly got beyond that. We kind of want to get back as quickly as possible to the roots of the show. So we streamlined the process a little.

How challenging is it to write the show without House having Cuddy as a love interest and all the other purposes she served on the show?

DS: I miss her. I miss her personally. I miss her as a writer but, as always is the case, new challenges mean new opportunities, and we’re embracing those opportunities.

Where will this season go in terms of House’s Vicodin addiction?

That has been something that’s been a challenge since day one: a practical challenge and a dramatic challenge. From day one we have wanted to be honest about that. I made him a Vicodin addict in the pilot and it’s something that could be played comically and there have been opportunities for that. We’ve done some of that but it was also extremely important that we treated it honestly. He is an addict. It is a problem and we explore that honestly.

Having said that, the practical issue is that it’s not entertaining to watch a guy dealing with addiction every week of the year. That’s not what the show is about. So it’s alive, it’s in there, we discuss it. We’ll have certain episodes where it’s more of a story than in others. But it’s not at the center of the series at least at the beginning.  There are other issues at the center of the series in the beginning of this season.

Do you think House will be pursuing any sort of romance this season?

DS: Certainly not initially, but he’s a human being...

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Mindy Peterman is a freelance writer whose focus is on television, movies and pop culture. She has written over one hundred articles for the award winning Blogcritics.org website and has conducted interviews with producer Peter Asher, psychic-medium John Edward, Greg Grunberg and Bob Guiney from Band…

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