…Robert Sean Leonard, Actor
For the past six seasons, Robert Sean Leonard (as Dr. James Wilson) has played Watson to Hugh Laurie’s Sherlock Holmes in Fox’s House. Wilson is House’s only friend and a long suffering and loyal, one at that.
On Nov. 30, Wilson gets his own episode of House appropriately titled “Wilson.” When an old friend and former patient of Wilson’s (guest star Joshua Malina of The West Wing) exhibits paralysis in his right arm, Wilson puts himself on the case. House wagers Wilson that the patient’s symptoms are attributed to new cancer cells and Wilson, with the help of the team, works to diagnose the patient with more optimistic results. But when things take a turn for the worse, Wilson must address his inability to separate patient from friend.
TheTwoCents: Were you excited to get an episode of your own?
RSL: Oh, no, it’s my worst nightmare. Are you kidding? When I read this pilot—the other pilot I was considering was Numbers. When I first read Numbers and thought, ‘well this is way too many scenes.’ It’s way too hard, and I’m not interested. And then I read House, and Wilson was in about three scenes a show, and I thought this is perfect. You know, I’m the Carlton the Doorman of my show. I’m not the most ambitious guy. I like playing the best friend. It’s good to be the lead of a show for a week, but I wouldn’t spread it all around too much. I like my role the way it is.
[In this episode, Wilson is] just examined more. You see my assistant you’ve never met. You see the oncology floor, you see where I work. My office next to House’s is just my office, so there’s a whole floor where I work in oncology. I have my own patients, my own assistant, my own day that doesn’t include House, so you basically follow Wilson around for a few days and see what his life is like.
TTC: If you knew somebody like House in real life, would you be his friend?
RSL: Well, it’s tricky. Probably not. Maybe when I was 20, but at 40, no. I think House is an incredibly intriguing guy–I mean the character–he’s incredibly funny. He’s great fun to be around; I mean, he’s extremely smart, self-deprecating, sarcastic; what’s not to like? The only thing is he’s self-involved, and has agendas often, and gets you in trouble and screws you over sometimes. I think when you’re 20, that doesn’t matter so much. At 40, I don’t know. I have a wife, and a daughter and two dogs; I hardly have time for people I like, so I don’t know if I would hang out with him very much, or be close.
But Wilson, Wilson is a very strange man. People seem to overlook this. They seem to think he’s this normal, teddy bear of a guy. He’s very strange. He has three ex-wives. He lives alone, well now he lives with House. He deals with death every day. He has a schizophrenic homeless brother. God only knows what his parents are like. I think he’s a really strange, dark guy. That’s my take on him.
TTC: Is Wilson really dark? What aren’t we seeing about him?
RSL: People seem to know who Cuddy is, and people seem to know who House is, but I get very different descriptions of who Wilson is from people. I think people project on him a lot. Maybe this episode next week will help a little bit, but I think Wilson is a very weird guy. I think he’s dark. I think he’s very lonely. Hugh and I have a joke of one day that I’ll be sick in the hospital dying of something, and basically I send him on a mission to get all the porn out of my house that’s been hidden in the basement, and he comes back with like boxes and boxes of porn, and I look up and say, ‘Where’s the rest? Where’s the German stuff?’ That’s my joke with Wilson. He’s not Mr. Rogers—that’s a reference that will go over well in London—he’s not the guy next door. I think he’s a very dark, strange guy.
TTC: Forget “Huddy.” Do you think Wilson could ever get together with Cuddy?
RSL: When I think about him with Cuddy, it doesn’t work; but I think in general people have a view of him that he’s kind of warm and fuzzy, and he’d be kind of an easy guy for Cuddy to boss around, and that might actually be the relationship. I don’t think Wilson would stand it very long. I think he’s a strange man.
TTC: Now that Wilson is finally getting over Amber, will we see him moving on?
RSL: Well, I don’t know. You know, I know a lot of people in my life, and when you say “move forward,” does that mean a wife and a house or a child? For some people that is forward, but I don’t think it is for everybody. I don’t know if Wilson is cut out for that. Everyone seems to think he’s Fred McMurray —the early Fred McMurray, not like Double Indemnity. I just don’t see Wilson as the fuzzy dad in a suburban household. I just don’t. For him, I think moving forward is getting a bagel and going to work. I don’t know if getting married and having children would be his nirvana, so for him I’m not sure what moving forward would really mean.
Patricia Morris Buckley —Staff Writer