It’s just a little … hocus pocus?! Jeffrey Donovan plays a fortune-telling scam artist in his new Hulu series, Shut Eye, and admits he had to do a little on-the-ground research to play the character convincingly.
The Burn Notice actor, 48, tells Us Weekly exclusively, “I knew nothing about this world, and I hadn’t even gone to a psychic when I read the script.” Donovan explains, “When I decided to take the role, I actually went and saw a psychic to kind of analyze what this fascinating, strange world is about. It kind of opened my eyes — it’s not only strange, but it’s really sophisticated what they do in those rooms! You don’t think there’s anything more to it than reading some tea leaves or reading your palm, but there’s a whole system, a science behind it.”
The spooky drama, which also stars KaDee Strickland as Donovan’s character Charlie’s wife and co-conspirator, and Entourage’s Emmanuelle Chriqui as a mysterious hypnotist, explores the world of shady storefront psychics in Los Angeles. But don’t worry, Donovan says, you don’t have to be too freaked out when you tune in while at home alone. Says Donovan, “There’s some dark events, but there is also some light humor. I think people will be more intrigued than freaked out and walk away saying,‘I never knew this existed! They have a neon sign, but they’re hiding in plain sight.’”
But the visits to the “real” psychics didn’t turn the actor into a believer. “I’m a realist, not a pessimist,” Donovan says. “And I’m spiritual, not religious. So I was going in from an actor’s point of view, thinking, ‘What can I glean from these people that will help me create someone who is hopefully believable and, better yet, really intriguing.’”
Delving further into his skepticism, Donovan says he thinks it’s a numbers game. “Usain Bolt is the fastest man on earth,” Donovan explains. “If there were 100 people you knew who ran, no one would run like him. And then you saw him, you’d be like, 'This guy has special powers! He has superpowers! There’s no way that someone can run like that!' I don’t think there are 100 people who could tell you your future, but there might be one person who goes, ‘You know what? I think that today, some good news is going to come your way.’ And that’s a very broad statement. So what if you got home and you got a call from a friend saying, ‘Hey, we just got tickets to that sold-out concert!’ And you’re going to connect that with what that person foresaw. But they’re just lucky! And that person said it to you, and they said it to 1,000 people — so she’s going to be right once! And that person’s going to come back and pay again. So that’s how I think it works.”
And if the psychic gives you bad news? The Fargo actor says not to worry. “They won’t tell you anything bad until after the third or fourth session — and then you’ll have to buy a candle for $500 to reverse your bad luck!”
All episodes of season 1 of Shut Eye are streaming now on Hulu.