BEFORE he joined The Mentalist to play Special Agent Wayne Rigsby, Welsh actor Owain Yeoman had never appeared in a show that ran longer than 13 episodes (think Kitchen Confidential and Generation Kill). But with The Mentalist surpassing the magic 100 episode mark – allowing it to live on forever in re-run heaven – Yeoman is now set for life. Or is he?
So can you retire and live off the royalties now?
I had that same thing: I rang my agent and went ‘Brilliant, I’m set now am I?’ But it’s not what it used to be. Whether I can retire on to my own island or not, I don’t think I’m there just yet.
Simon Baker is one of the best paid actors on TV. Do you make him pay for drinks and lunch when you’re out together?
That’s funny (laughs). It’s something you never really talk about. Simon is such a down-to-earth guy. He was joking the other day and said ‘I’ve bought a Lamborghini’ and Tim (Kang) and I looked at him, and he’s not at all flashy, and it turns out he bought a Lamborghini tractor for his farm in Australia.
Whyare there so many English and Australian actors pretending to be American on US TV?
I used to joke that we were cheaper! It does seem funny that when we look on our set and our executive producer, our main creator and our second EP are all British, I’m British, Tim’s Korean and Simon’s Australian. We struggle to actually come up with a real American!
Are Americans surprised to hear your Welsh accent?
It’s a real compliment when people don’t realise I’m not from America. It also allows you to get out of a scrape quickly if someone recognises you in public and says ‘Are you that guy?’ And you say ‘No, no I’m British.’
Back home in Wales, do they treat you as a hotshot Hollywood star?
No I’m put firmly back in my place when I get back to the pub, surrounded by old rugby friends who remind me acting is a great hobby.
Simon’s done Australian bank ads using an American accent. Would you do that for a Welsh ad?
Absolutely. I actually saw that ad and I think it’s brilliant. (He’s like) ‘I know what you’re thinking: I’m an Australian actor on Australian TV playing an American – why am I doing this accent?’ It’s a very tongue-in-cheek way of sending up his own background.
Do you hope to follow your
co-star Bradley Cooper to success in movies?
He has the kind of career trajectory I would love to emulate. It was a real education, for he was in the same situation I’m in now. He’d come off five years of doing Alias and I think he was very, very ready to show people he was capable of doing a lot more than that. I’m really keen when the show comes to an end to maybe do a great little indie role and have people say, ‘Oh, we’ve never seen that side of Rigsby’ you know? The Mentalist, Channel 9, Monday, 8.30pm