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Mr. Monk and the Actor: Tony Shalhoub Obsesses Over the New Season

[IMG:L]Monk is back with all new episodes airing Mondays at 9 p.m. on USA Network. Already his new obsessive-compulsive adventures have included joining a cult, in an episode guest starring Howie Mandel as the cult leader. Tony Shalhoub explored some of this season’s new obsessions for Monk, as well as some continuing ones that never change, like the ever present case of Trudy Monk’s death.

Fist-Pounding: Shalhoub learned a new way to greet others without transmitting germs.
“I actually I have picked up a number of things from Howie while I was working with him. I’m more apt now to just touch fists rather than shake peoples’ hands. That’s actually happened. So I’m forever grateful to him for that.”

Cliffhanger-mania: This run of episodes features the first ever “to be continued” Monk!
“For the first time in the six seasons of Monk, the writers have given us a two-part episode. It’s really a nice episode. It’s called ‘Mr. Monk on the Run.’ It’s kind of homage to The Fugitive. Monk gets accused of a crime and has to go is arrested but then goes on the lam. Scott Glenn is the guest star and he’s excellent. He plays the sheriff for lack of a better phrase, the Tommy Lee Jones kind of character in pursuit of Monk. It involves a lot of clues about Trudy’s death and the six-fingered man and Dale the Whale even makes an appearance again in this episode. We feel like it’s almost like a movie, a little movie because it’s an hour and a half.”

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Rut-a-phobia: The writers help Shalhoub avoid phoning in his performance but constantly giving him new character dynamics…
“I think it’s a tribute to our writers. They’re constantly, constantly expanding our universe and throwing curve balls at me and challenges at me. We have such a great creative team and we really feel like, I would say the last year, year and a half, the show has more than ever has kind of become a true ensemble piece. The support from the other actors and the writers writing to those characters more, fleshing them out even more has I think kind of just cemented the whole thing.”

Plain Old Obsession: Monk is still looking for clues in Trudy’s death.
“We touch on the Trudy story not on every episode of course but at least four or five times during a 16 show season. In the back seven, I would say at least a couple of those touch on the Trudy story. In fact, Trudy’s death and her place in Monk’s life figures very heavily in the cult episode because Howie’s character, just by talking to Monk in their first meeting, recognizes that there’s a hole in Monk’s heart.”

A Cure for OCD: Resolving Trudy’s death may actually cure Monk’s condition!
“I think if that issue resolves, yes, I think it would significantly decrease his OCD symptoms. When he lost his wife was a time when he really, really hit bottom. Even though he was obsessive-compulsive before her and even somewhat during their time together, she really, really kept him together. He was highly, highly functional during that time. It’s ultimately up to the writers but I believe that he would come back at least 75 percent of the way. I think that they’re saving that for the series finale whenever that might be because part of, I think, the appeal of this character is how much difficulty and how much trouble he gets in and how much difficulty he has in everyday life. So I would hope that all resolves itself at the end.”

Cinema-philia: Shalhoub atill wants to do a big screen version of Monk.
“It’s something we talk about all the time. We would love to do that. The writers, the producers have kicked this idea around for the last probably three or four years. I’m hopeful that it would happen. In this two-parter that I mentioned which is coming up at the end of this run of shows, I think we’ve kind of proven that we could pull it off. This particular episode is really cinematic. It’s got all the elements that the audience I think has come to appreciate about Monk, but it just feels like a feature. So the answer is I really hope so.”

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