Here are a couple of excerpts from the interview that demonstrate, once again, how a writer must know their characters on an intimate level (emphasis added):
THR: The Red John serial killer mythology. Each episode’s title has the word “red” in it. I’m assuming that’s to suggest that no matter what case Jane is working on, Red John is always on his mind?
Heller: That’s right.
THR: When do you plan to resolve that story line?
Heller: It’s something that will run throughout the series — it’s a series ender, not a season ender. There’s lot of wrinkles and twists down that path before we get to it. It’s the epic underpinning of the series that gives it weight. It’s the plot version of the darkness inside the lead character and it’s important it remain a part of the show.
THR: OK, this question is pretty fan-like, but a friend wanted me to ask this, so I am: Jane’s vests. Was that actually in the script or…
Heller: There was a lot of discussion about wardrobe that was above my pay grade. But both Simon and I knew that Jane should have a specific look. The thinking is these were the suits he used to wear as a mentalist and he would have them dry cleaned and pressed. Now he gets them out of the bottom of the cupboard. It’s also a magician thing. They wear vests because they need to be able to hide things.
The first answer: Heller notes how an elusive nemesis character — the Red John serial killer — is a projection of the series protagonist’s inner “darkness” and demonstrates how writers need to know their characters on a most intimate level. This insight is reminiscent of the point Robert Towne makes here about the best way to get at the core of a character:
“The single most important question, I think, that one must ask one’s self about a character is what are they really afraid of? What are they really afraid of? And if you ask that question, it’s probably for me the single best way of getting into a character. That finally is where stories are told… with a character that’s real.”
Heller’s second quote speaks to how profession can provide insight into a character’s habits, even down to the minutiae of what clothes they wear – in this case vests.
“The Mentalist” is one of the few new 1-hour dramas to connect with audiences this year. Do you watch the show? Your thoughts on the Protagonist Patrick Jane, played by Simon Baker.