Thyne Makes His Romantic 'Bones'
His character has gone from geeky scientist to romantic lead
"The question of 'Would it have been enough to just kind of be the quote-unquote "sidekick"?' I don't think it would have been," reflects T.J. Thyne, Hodgins' thespian alter-ego. "I don't think it would have been satisfying enough, which is why I kind of get on my knees and bow down to the writers that they gave me this opportunity in Season Two."
With presumptive leads Temperance "Bones" Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) caught up in an endless will-they-or-won't-they tango, Hodgins and fellow "squint" Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin) have become the FOX drama's heart this season, going from hesitant flirtation, to awkward dating to full-fledged love. This isn't the way Thyne, a veteran of literally dozens of TV guest parts and recurring arcs before "Bones," expected things to go when he signed on.
"I think originally, Season One, I looked at Angela's character as just a sister, a sister who was the fun, funky sister who was just always out partying and having a good time -- we laughed together and had a good time," he remembers. "I actually thought that Jack had a little something for Brennan. I always thought he was very enamored by her for what she was in her mind, how she was as a scientist."
While Brennan has had a couple love interests while waiting to inevitably pair off with Booth, none of them has been Hodgins. Instead, Thyne says he began to notice another romantic alternative at the Jeffersonian, a spark he spotted perhaps even before the show's creative team.
"I just started to find that a lot of my lines that I was delivering, even though they were scientific and a lot of Latin words, I was somehow directing them towards her and the intention seemed to be one of wooing, so to speak," he says. "I think it's something that the other actors picked up on and I think it's something that the writers started picking up on and that's what slowly started to blend into this beautiful arc that we finally had of Jack really falling madly and passionately in love with Angela and kind of pursuing her."
The new episode of "Bones" that airs Wednesday is a showcase for Thyne to show off his character's new layers. Titled "Spaceman in a Crater," the episode's weekly corpse -- a body that seemingly fell from outer space -- feeds Hodgins anti-government paranoia, but the discovery of alien technology doesn't take his attention from his plans to propose to Angela. Given the choice between playing wise-cracking comic relief or earnest love interest, Thyne doesn't hesitate to express a preference.
"One thousand percent, definitely the romantic, human element is much more fun for me to play. I just love that," he says. "I don't know, maybe it's just me, T.J., is kind of an romantic. The idea of falling for a woman and having to figure out a way of expressing that to her and being confused and just misinterpreting the signs, to me that's what we all deal with, that's what life is full of."
"Bones" fans will probably notice a few narrative gaps in the budding relationships, gaps caused by FOX's decision to pull the April 19 episode ("Player Under Pressure," featuring a murdered college athlete) in the wake of the tragedy at Virginia Tech.
"I thought it was smart that they said 'Let's not do this, let's not pile it onto the audience at this point. Let's give them a break,'" Thyne says. "Meanwhile, then we screened Brennan and I being buried alive. So we went from one intensity to the next, but at least it was a little more removed."
Asked if "Bones" is somewhat underappreciated on a network where the hype usually goes to critical darlings like "24" or "House" or pop culture sensations like "American Idol," Thyne laughs and pauses.
"Let me ask you -- Do you think that we are?" He continues, "I don't think the people that watch us underestimate us."
Not that he'd shy from a few million more viewers ...
"For me and just always as an actor, it's just the more you can pack an audience in, the better you feel. You feel like the more people you can actually touch and communicate to, the more exciting it is," he says. "I mean, 'House' is a great show and they've got a strong audience base and I feel like our show is definitely strong enough to handle that kind of audience base. And I feel that if we got above the radar, we could take the heat. Let the eyes come on us. We can handle it."
"Bones" airs on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.