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Q&A Interview with Hart Hanson & Stephen Nathan, Executive Producers of BONES

Maj Canton - October 29, 2011




TV Tango recently participated in a conference call with Hart Hanson and Stephen Nathan, executive producers of BONES. Hanson and Nathan dished about Brennan's and Emily's pregnancy, gave a preview of the next six episodes, and discussed what's new with the Squinterns.

BONES returns with new episodes on Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 9pm on FOX, with its spectacular Season 7 premiere.






Question: There was talk of getting a four episode mini season, maybe during this summer.  Do you have any updates on that?

Stephen Nathan: Well, we have no idea what the scheduling is. We don’t have any idea of what the scheduling will be. They do want to do ultimately, seventeen episodes. How it airs is really up to Fox. We’re kind of at this point, going along with the premise that we’ll do a season of thirteen episodes and the remaining four episodes are still up in the air where they will air, or how they will air. They could air before what we consider our last episode even. So, that’s a long way of saying we have no idea of when those four episodes will play out.

Hart Hanson: It’s a real pickle for us because we don’t quite know where to place these four stories in our universe and it’s tough if they air all in a row, they would be odd because they would not contain any meaningful character arcs. So, it’s a pickle. We’re hoping we can get some guidance, perhaps after we air for a while and perhaps, after we see how the rest of the Fox shows do.



Question: Are there any new FINDER cross-overs to report?


Hart Hanson: I’m crossing my fingers right now, but we shot a show in which Sweets came down to take part in an investigation and evaluate Walter through the FBI and right now, we’re closing in on having a conspiracy theory episode in which the ideal character, of course, is Jack Hodgins to come down and be dueling conspiracy theorists with Walter.  The idea is really funny.  We just have to make sure that TJ is available and that it fits into his schedule, but it’s looking pretty good for that, and we want to do one more.  We want to do one more. We don’t know what it is yet.


By the way, we’re also looking to see if there is a place and room for Stephen Fry to appear in a FINDER episode as Gordon Gordon Wyatt.  



Question: How have you made sure the balance of the show stayed intact while adding the new dynamic of the Booth-Brennan relationship?

Stephen Nathan: I think to us, it was somewhat organic.  We just continued to write Booth and Brennan in the same way, which were two completely disparate characters who agreed on very little on the surface.  Only now, they’re dealing with a pregnancy and a relationship.   So, it really seemed to be a natural extension of the previous six years of BONES.

Hart Hanson: Our big worry—Stephen and I used to talk about this all the time.  We knew that Booth and Brennan would get together euphemistically in Season 6, and we knew that it would be over the death of a beloved Squintern and then, we sort of got this big gift.  Then, Stephen and I had to talk all of the time.  “Well what happens next?  What does it look like?  What replaces unrequited sexual tension?  What interesting dynamic replaces that?”


And it’s a tough one.  And we talked about it at great length and then, the Gods intervened and Emily came and said, “I’m pregnant.”   At that moment we knew what replaced sexual tension was an actual human being. 


Stephen Nathan: Also,  I think what we really wanted to avoid more than anything was to have a couple madly in love with each other, because it’s to me that’s always going out to dinner with a couple who have just met and make out all through dinner.  And you want to kill them and never have dinner with them again.  So we wanted to avoid that dinner.  And we successfully did.  We have a couple who we can invite over every week for dinner and they’re great company.

Hart Hanson: They can never go out to dinner.


Stephen Nathan: Yes, they can’t go out, but at least, make out while you’re eating.


Question: Will we see more back stories of some of our supporting characters?

Hart Hanson: TJ is angling to be the lead of the show.  He had so many ideas.  He is a really good writer and director, if you check out his work on YouTube.  So he has tons of ideas and man, as an actor, he’s up for anything.  But, well what do we want to admit to Stephen?

Stephen Nathan: Well, we can admit to we’re going to hear a little bit about his grandfather and see him kind of dive-in in episode six with our new resident villain.  Kind of dive-in as only Jack Hodgins can, and in adding a bit of conspiracy and a bit of code breaking.

Hart Hanson: And, we have a story in our pocket about Hodgin’s brother.  But, it’s in my mind, and Stephen may talk me out of this. In my mind it’s attached to a piece of casting, and I can’t imagine doing it without this piece of casting attached to it or my interest level drops. So, we have to wait and see if that happens and no, I would never admit who it is.


Stephen Nathan: But there’s a lot of Angela and Hodgins in the first six actually.  And so we learn more about them than we ever have before as well.  And Billy Gibbons returns.

Hart Hanson: Stephen, you want to take an opportunity to talk a bit about the new Squintern?

Stephen Nathan: Well, I think everybody’s seen the new Squintern,  Finn.  Luke Kleintank plays him and he is somebody who will be recurring with us.  He’s phenomenal.

Hart Hanson: I really just want to hear you say, “Luke Kleintank.”

Stephen Nathan: I know.  We’ve cast some actors just because of their names this year.

Hart Hanson: Yes, I just want to say starring with Luke’s flying tank.

Stephen Nathan: And he is great.  We are already writing him in—he’s already returning.  And we’ll get into that in the last eleven, but I don’t want to give anything away, but he comes back and it’s quite a nice involvement with the other characters.

Hart Hanson: And babies do tend to drag relatives out of the woodwork, so we have some.  I think, actually that Booth and his grandfather and his father’s story in the first six is maybe one of the best episodes of BONES ever, certainly an amazing performance by David Boreanaz and I’m dying for everyone to see.  And that has family attached.  And also, Stephen, I don’t know if we should admit too, but we think we have a pretty good idea for who should take care of the baby. 

Stephen Nathan: Yes, I think that’s something that we can keep to ourselves because that’s after the first six.  But it’ll be a lot of fun, yes.


Question: How did you come up with the amnesia aspects of the premiere?

Hart Hanson: The amnesia aspects?  I’ve totally forgotten what they are.

Stephen Nathan: That’s a good joke.

Hart Hanson: I’ve totally forgotten what the amnesia aspect is.  I have.  I have.

Stephen Nathan: In the first murder, the woman had amnesia.  We just kind of wanted to...

Hart Hanson: Oh, okay, I instantly go to our main characters and go “Who the hell had amnesia?”


Stephen Nathan: The amnesia episode obviously was based on Hart.

Hart Hanson: Ask me which episode of THE FINDER is shooting behind me right now. I don’t know.  God, when did those discussions first start, Stephen?  Like in last—?

Stephen Nathan: Well, it was last year when we were planning the new season.  We really wanted to have an episode that would kind of resonate with what Booth and Brennan where going through. What you bring to a new relationship, and how it’s been formed completely by your past and whether you can make remake those memories and what it is to make new memories.  So, we were just kind of playing with that concept. And then, we also thought it was a cool murder.  I want to make it deeper than that, but a cool murder usually wins out.

Hart Hanson: We always start with a cool murder or a cool corpse, I should say.


Question: How do you keep up with changes in real forensics and investigation techniques between seasons? How does that impact the writers?

Hart Hanson: Oh well, we have quite a few.  There’s a writer’s room full of smart writers who are digging through stuff all the time. Who comes in with technology Stephen? I have a bin full of technological ideas. One of the writers seems to come in with cool technology.  

Stephen Nathan: There’s a group of them.  They come in with new equipment that has just been developed and new investigatory techniques.  It’s a remarkable group of people, because they will come to us and say, “Well, you know, this person could have been murdered, actually in another galaxy.  It’s totally real at this point and wind up in somebody’s ‘Soup for One’ can.”  It’s crazy.

Hart Hanson: Yes, I have to credit that to the writer’s room, because I don’t know about you Stephen, but I’m certainly not looking for new forensics techniques in my down time.


Stephen Nathan: No.  No, no, no.  I would say that 90% of the stuff that we do in the show is completely real and scientifically accurate.  We might stretch or shrink the time as necessary, but the science is correct and usually is mind boggling to us.

Hart Hanson: Yes, and people do send us.  Ee get links all of the time to journals and new forensic techniques and scientific techniques.  I happen to send them immediately up to the writing room.  I don’t even read them because it makes my head hurt, but now I just send them up to the writer’s room and they churn those things out.  They’re an amazing group of people.


Question: What’s going on with Cam this season besides hiring the new Squintern?

Stephen Nathan: Well, so far in the first six [episodes], it really has a lot has to do with the new intern and her juggling the lab with this new dynamic.  You know, with Brennan being pregnant and still trying to maintain a functioning lab.  She is going to have...

Hart Hanson: And she still has daughter problems.

Stephen Nathan: Yes, and though the remainder of the episode.

Hart Hanson: ...story line, Stephen, do you?..


Stephen Nathan: No.  No, no, no.  We can’t mention that story line, but there’s going to be a lot more for Cam in the second half of the year.  We have all of that planned out now.   A lot of stuff with her daughter.  She also is going out with a doctor still.  So, all of that is going to be explored in the second half of the season when we come back, but we just had so much to do with Booth and Brennan that it was very, very difficult to service everybody as much as we would like.  We keep asking the network—the network will only give us an hour.  I don’t know why.

Hart Hanson: And imagine what it’s like to be the only woman in a work place who hasn’t had a baby.


Question: When are you starting production back up again?

Stephen Nathan: We start back on December 1st.

Hart Hanson: Yes, Emily is doing great.  She is really healthy.   The baby is really healthy.  We always thought there was a chance that Emily might say, “You know what I’ll come back in the New Year.  Just give me through Christmas.”   But she is coming back. Our best case scenario had her coming back to shoot in December, and that’s going to happen.

Stephen Nathan: Yes, that’ll happen.  So, we’re going back middle of November to gear up production and write like the wind and then, she’ll be back.  It’s a wonderful new episode.

Hart Hanson: I don’t think you should say, “Write like the wind”, because the wind blows.


Stephen Nathan: Well, you know, you’re right.

Hart Hanson: That …is totally for you.


Question: Stephen, you recently Tweeted something about a case being even too gross for you. What was that?

Hart Hanson: This is my main question these days. 

Stephen Nathan: Really?  That?  It was in episode six with our new villain and it was just something that I’m sure will appear on the DVD so the fans will be able to see it.  But it was just a little bit too disgusting even for me.  And I love disgusting, but it’s got to be a little bit funny.  I know that...

Hart Hanson: Listen, Stephen is the gross one of us.  He just took those opening sequences with the bodies and with great glee, he makes things horrible, and for him to say “that was too gross” is amazing. Stephen, I’m not going to blow what this is, but we were looking at a rendering of remains in the lab when something happened that I physically ran away from the monitor as did one of the characters in the lab.


Stephen Nathan: Oh, yes, oh, yes, yes.  That’s great, and that’s horrifying, but fun.  You laugh a little bit.

Hart Hanson: Not so much me.

Stephen Nathan: Well you laugh and then maybe, you pee a little bit.

Hart Hanson: Well, I did come back and say, “Do it again!  Do it again! Show me again!”  And it never, oh just so horrible...

Stephen Nathan: I think what happened is that the thing that got me this time is that it was a fresh body, which we don’t normally do that and the people who do the bodies are so brilliant.  The Yeagers.  Chris Yeager—they are so brilliant and they are so realistic that when it was kind of fresh and newly killed, it was too—it was just too horrible.  It wasn’t…to the BONES fans, it was me.  It wouldn’t have been right.

Hart Hanson: We learned a little bit of a lesson from the gravedigger’s head exploding about fresh, fresh murders.

Stephen Nathan: Yes, yes that was a you know—that was a little bit fun, but not, not...

Hart Hanson: Yes, no I don’t like it.


Question: What was it like filming while Emily was pregnant?

Hart Hanson: Tell them Stephen, tell the story about the stunt double in the first shot and the whole...

Stephen Nathan: I just want to say one thing. We actually scheduled the shooting of episodes five and six so that we were shooting them at the same time.  All I can say is Emily was so pregnant that she finished on Monday and had the baby the next day.  So, she was working until she basically was in the good earth.   She was unbelievable, but she refused to have stunt people and there’s a scene that you’ll see in I think it’s the second episode, where she just has it at some 350 pound man, and that was her.

Hart Hanson: Well, Stephen I was thinking that we hired a stunt double, remember?  It was  a story point that Booth was concerned about Brennan getting to across some broken ground to a crime scene and we told Emily, “Well, you know what Brennan would do—she’d run across there, but we’ll have a stunt double for that.”   And she said, “No, I want to do it.”  And we had to physically tell her “No. You’re not going to run across that to get to the body.  We’ve got a stunt double for that.”  She’s just been totally game.


Stephen Nathan: She just did absolutely everything.  I mean, there were a couple of times that the days were long, and we sent her home.  But, honestly, she is built from iron.  She is unbelievable.

Hart Hanson: Sadly, she is going to say it’s because she is a vegan, so I’m going to lose that war.


Question: Breast or bottle and is that something you guys have discussed with or without Emily?

Hart Hanson: You mean Brennan or Emily?  Because Emily, we wouldn’t discuss that at all, at all.  And, I think Brennan it’s something we’re discussing.  I mean, it’ll be in the show.



Question: Why did you kill Mr. Nigel-Murray?

Stephen Nathan: You know, what?  That was horrible for us.  We hated that.  We love him so much and...

Hart Hanson: The reason he got killed is very simple—someone was going to die this year and we waited until we knew each of our Squinterns, what they were going to be doing the following seasons.  And he got a series, 13, on the air, on the Syfy so he was the one to be killed.  Also, I’ve always thought in the back of my mind that should the Syfy series go away, I wish it only ill, that is one of the few characters that you could conceivably bring back as a relative or where you can laughingly say, Vincent Nigel-Murray is dead but Nigel Vincent Murray is still alive. And because he can do a million accents; he is such a chameleon and we actually had a good little weep.  I think that’s everyone when he left.


Stephen Nathan: Oh, it was terrible.  We called the other show and told them he stunk and they shouldn’t hire him.   We did everything we possibly could, but they just...

Hart Hanson: We are doomed with these Squinterns.  Every single one of them could go get a recurring new job—a starring job in another series any day.

Stephen Nathan: Don’t say that.

Hart Hanson: We have to be prepared for it.

Stephen Nathan: You’re just going to encourage them.

Hart Hanson: to become a huge star now?

Stephen Nathan: I know.  I know.  It’s a remarkable group.  It really is.


Question: What’s coming up with Patricia Belcher for this season?

Stephen Nathan: She is going to make at least four appearances this season even in the shortened season.  We love that.  She just does an incredible, incredible job. And you’re absolutely right.  Every scene she’s in, it just lights up.  And David loves working with her, and they’re just a great couple.

Hart Hanson: Can I point out that Patty Belcher is probably the actor who is least like her character than any actor I have ever worked with?  She is not that woman, so she is an amazing actress.



Question: How will you handle the baby bump situation later in the season when Emily returns after giving birth?

Stephen Nathan: We’ve shot six and in episode seven, she is still pregnant.

Hart Hanson: Yes, she is still pregnant, but we won’t say for how long.



Question: Will religion and science be an issue with Booth and Brennan having the baby together, raising it in the church, getting it baptized, everything like that?

Hart Hanson: Oh, I would say so.  Wouldn’t you Stephen?

Stephen Nathan: Oh, yes, we’re still playing that.  They’re going through all of those huge issues that any couple goes through when they’re having a baby, so you know...

Hart Hanson: And the stakes are raised.  They used to have these kind of theoretical arguments about God versus science.  Well, now the stakes are raised.  It has to do with the upbringing and shaping of a human being.  That’s what I mean about it being such a gift to us.  It’s like, “Oh wow!  This brings a whole new level to the disagreements these two radically different people have about the way the world works and where people fit in the world.”

Stephen Nathan: And you will see that in the first episodes and also I can, without telling you anything at all, episode seven is that big time. Yes, they’re dealing with that issue in a pretty intense way, yes. 



Question: Is there going to be a birthday party for Brennan this year?

Hart Hanson: I have no idea. I cannot in any way answer that.  Stephen, do you have any thoughts on that?  We don’t generally do that.   I’ll tell you why.

Stephen Nathan: No, we never...

Hart Hanson: To do a birthday party without saying how old someone is, it seems counterproductive and there is not really good reason.  It’s not vanity.  It’s just why define the age of a character?  We do every once in a while, but do you have a thought on that Stephen?

Stephen Nathan: No. I don’t.  It never crossed my mind to be honest, to have a birthday party for Brennan. 

Hart Hanson: I do remember that if there is one thing Emily doesn’t like it’s a surprise party, but that’s Emily, not Brennan.