Baruchel Counts a Second 'Numb3rs'

Last November, Jay Baruchel ("Undeclared," "Just Legal") guest-starred in "Hardball," an episode of CBS' Friday-night drama "Numb3rs," playing Oswald Kittner, an untutored math genius using his skills to win at fantasy baseball.

His proficiency caught the eye of Cal Sci (the fictional version of Cal Tech) math professor Charlie Eppes (David Krumholtz), who spends his free time using advanced mathematics to help his FBI-agent brother, Don (Rob Morrow), solve crimes.

Charlie tried unsuccessfully to get Oswald to give up his freewheeling life and apply himself to serious mathematics.

Baruchel also caught the eye of the show's fans, which liked the relationship between Oswald and Charlie and began to ask when he would be back. They weren't the only ones.

"Jay is a great, great friend of mine," said Krumholtz after Baruchel's first appearance, "and has been for many, many years. Jay wasn't originally going to play this part, and it was actually by my sort of forcing the producers' hand to some extent to give him the part.

"He came in, and he blew everyone away, making me look really good. So ideally, of course, I would love to have Jay back. Jay really wants to do it."

"I was so psyched to be there the first time," Baruchel says, "because me and Dave have been friends for six years and not really got to work together.

"I was in Halifax shooting a movie, and they called me up and said, 'You've been written into another episode this season.' And I was like, 'Holy Moses.' I jumped down as soon as I could.

"It seems that they really do like me. I just didn't want to make Dave look bad, because he stuck out his neck and got me the job. I couldn't disappoint."

Baruchel thinks there may be another reason at play here, saying, "I guess they just like having somebody else on that set who talks as much sh-t about Dave as they do."

So, on Friday, March 9, in an episode called "Democracy," Oswald returns to help Charlie investigate a case of voter fraud and rigged elections. At the same time, Charlie again tries to convince Oswald to come to school.

"He wants me to apply to Cal Sci," Baruchel says, "because he thinks I'm good enough to get a scholarship. Again, I can't seem to apply myself, so he gets me involved in this case. We start to unravel a conspiracy that goes far up the ladder of California politics.

"Something is rotten in Sacramento. No great revelations in it, but it makes for a good 45 minutes of TV."

Calling his math skills "absolutely deplorable," Baruchel says, "I'm the worst. Never my strong suit. I coasted through high school with a 65 in math. You've either got it or you don't, and I definitely don't. In this past episode, I had to do what Dave has to do in every episode, which is not just talk about math convincingly, but write it on the blackboard as I'm doing it.

"It was very piddly compared to what he's had to do, but I gained a newfound respect for him."

After two-plus seasons, one wonders if Krumholtz has started to really understand what he's saying and writing.

"He definitely seems to," Baruchel says. "But this is all I'll say in reference to Dave Krumholtz's math skills -- Dave's the best actor I know."

Reminded that Krumholtz addresses gatherings of mathematicians, Baruchel says, "Yes, he does. But he's like John Lennon when he goes to those things. They're not showing up there to hear him talk math. They show up there to touch Charlie's hair."

Speaking of Krumholtz's curly locks, Baruchel has noticed a disturbing trend.

"I venture to say he copied me," he says. "It's common in Montreal, where I live, for straight males to walk around with hair bands on. When my hair gets long, I sport a hair band.

"Flash forward a little while, Dave's on 'Numb3rs,' and he really starts to care about his hair for the first time in 26 years or whatever ... he femmed out. He bought this crazy, doily-looking thing, and he keeps it in there and takes it out right before they shoot, to get that trademark Charlie coif thing. It's a doily hair band that he has.

"When I see him show up to work with his girly-ass hair band, I think, 'I've created a monster. What have I done?' The blame lies squarely on me."