Psych-ed Up!

James Roday talks about Hollywood and growing up in the Alamo City

by Eric L. Moreno

Since its debut in the summer of 2007, USA Network’s Psych has been the little show that could. It would have been easy for a comedy about a fake psychic detective who solves a convoluted murder mystery each week with his childhood best friend in sunny Santa Barbara, California to go unnoticed and slip off into television obscurity.

However, Psych had something going for it that many people didn’t anticipate as its saving grace and what would ultimately set it apart as something truly special. What it had was San Antonio son James Roday as its star.

Born and raised in San Antonio, Roday (then Rodriguez; he changed his name as the Screen Actors Guild already had a “James Rodriguez” listed) developed the acting bug while a student at his alma mater of Taft High School.

He studied theatre at New York University’s Experimental Theatre Wing and graduated with a degree in fine arts. After starring in several feature films, including having a featured role in the big-screen adaptation of The Dukes of Hazzard, Roday landed several TV roles before taking the role that would change his life on Psych.

Roday brought an infectious exuberance and an effervescent charm to the lead-character role of Shawn Spencer, a forever-stuck-in-adolescence faux psychic with an extraordinary gift for observation that had been honed by his police detective father since childhood and is buoyed by the levelheadedness of his best friend and partner Gus.

The show soon cultivated a legion of diehard fans known affectionately as “Psych-os,” that bring with them a rabid online presence with more than three million active fans on social media.

After eight seasons and over 100 episodes, Roday and company felt it was best to leave the fans wanting more rather than overstay their welcome. The quirky show that grew into a cult hit and then a runaway, award-winning success decided to go out while it was still on top this past March.

Recently we had a chance to catch up with Roday at his home in California fresh off promoting both the finale of the series and his work directing his first feature film. He talked about growing up in the Alamo City and about the role that would make him a television star.

Read more in the June 2014 issue of S.A. Scene.