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Geoff Stults on Living in 'Happy Town'

by Michael D. Ayers, posted Apr 28th 2010 1:04PM
Geoff Stultz of 'Happy Town'Premiering tonight on ABC is a new 'Twin Peaks' -looking drama called 'Happy Town,' where things in small town Haplin, Minn. are thrown into chaos following a gruesome string of murders. At the center of all this mess is Geoff Stults ('7th Heaven,' 'October Road'), who's taking his first lead role as town deputy Tommy Conroy. Joining him on the cast is Steven Weber ('Wings') as John Haplin, M.C. Gainey ('Lost') as his father Griffin and Amy Acker ('Alias,' 'Angel') as Stultz's wife Rachel.

TV Squad spoke to Stults about the show's Midwest setting, working with M.C. Gainey and 'Happy Town's creepy factor. 'Happy Town' premieres Wednesday, April 28 at 10PM ET.

The creepy factor is good and being set in Minnesota is different. You could riff a bit on 'Fargo.

That's the one thing we went away from-Minnesota accents. I think that works in an hour and half movie like 'Fargo,' but for 22 episodes a year, I don't think the American general public wants to hear that accent. We stayed away from that but we definitely have the cold, snow, small town stuff. And the crazy characters for sure.

Tell me about your character, Tommy Conroy.

I knew I wanted to do this show before I even read it. I kept asking them not to tell me what the concept was, because I wanted to formulate my own opinions about it. Secretly, I was petrified that I wasn't going to like it. My character is a young deputy-his father is the sheriff in a small town, so I grew up as a "big fish in a small pond." Was into sports and all the kind of stuff-so very happy and comfortable in this town. I'm content being a husband and a father, with not a lot of huge aspirations. I don't want to go off to Minneapolis. I like my small town living.

But he has to become a grown up real quick and take over; but he's very reluctant. The thing that drew me to Tommy Conroy is that he's a very reluctant hero. He's insecure and doesn't know what he's doing and is forced to figure things out over the course of the first season. He goes from this little insecure kid who's in his father's broad shadow, to this guy who steps up.

In the pilot, he seems like he's very naïve, very chipper. But I picked up the tension between him and his dad-that creepy guy from 'Lost' (M.C. Gainey).

M.C., yeah he is that crazy guy from 'Lost' man. One of my favorite stories about M.C., when we were shooting the pilot, where we find a body in the ice shack. We shot for ten hours in this small town two-and-a-half hours north of Toronto. It was all day long; we were miserable, it was cold. When we got into the car, it was M.C. sitting up front and Bob (Robert Wisdom) sitting in the back. He starts telling us his life story and Bob and I feel asleep by the time he got to 10 or 11. When we woke up he was about 44, 45 and he didn't miss a beat. He didn't even know we were sleeping. He thought because he wasn't getting a response that we were so enthralled. But his role was supposed to be a lot smaller but people really responded to the relationship between father and son.

As taking the lead, what's been the most difficult for you?

This is my first lead in anything and you don't really know what that main character is going through. I look at it like if I'm doing my job and then the rest can take care of itself. I look at it as a sport, where you're part of a team.

So what's in store for the first season? Is it indeed pretty creepy?

I don't want to use the word creepy because I don't want to scare people off. But I would say, yeah, it's kinda creepy.

It seems different than the usual doctor shows, the lawyer shows and cop procedurals. It looks weird.

If I was a criminal and Haplin was a real town, I'd move there. Because I'd never get caught. It's kinda creepy. I will say this, when I read the script, I was like "my God, I can't believe ABC bought this." And then I shot the pilot and saw it and said "there's no way ABC is picking this up." And I thought every week they'd tone it down and take it in a different direction, so it'll be a mish-mosh of a bunch of things that feel safe to them.

Then every week, I'd get a new script, and say "holy sh-t, I can't believe they're letting us do this." There is some creepy and it's definitely different. There's also that small town, middle America that I think this show works. It brings out the mystery and if you're in a small town and something bad happens, chances are you know that person or you know someone who knows that person. There's a lot more personal effect, and I think a small town atmosphere for a show like this works.

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I liked twin peaks - so well see how this comes LR

April 28 2010 at 1:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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