Ever since Bones creator Hart Hanson announced that he would be using the April 21 episode called “The Finder” to introduce a character, Walter Sherman, who could potentially front a new series on Fox come fall, fans have been wanting to know more about him. Fortunately, Geoff Stults, the Happy Town and October Road vet who was cast as the man who can unearth anyone and anything, is finally talking. In the episode, Booth (David Boreanaz) and Brennan (Emily Deschanel) travel to Florida to solve the murder of a maritime museum security guard, and once there, Booth suggests they call on Walter to help locate a stolen treasure map.
We’ll learn that years ago, Walter, a former military policeman, tracked Seeley down after he went AWOL when he wasn’t granted leave to see the birth of his son, Parker. “Booth has always been resentful of that because I arrested him, and he’s always wanted to get me back,” Stults says, “but he’s also known that I’m really good at finding things.” Booth tells Brennan that Walter has “finder power,” which Walter proves to Brennan by finding something that’s important to her. “And then, I kind of fall in love with her. And then she has a minute of like, ‘Wait, do I like him?’ — just enough, I’m sure, that the Bones fans are gonna be like, Nooo waaay. I saw it one time on Twitter already. I was like let me shoot the f—in’ thing first. Relax, guys,” Stults laughs. “Don’t kill me. I’m just tryin’ to get a pilot picked up here.”
After hearing more about Walter Sherman, we think we’re gonna like him. Here’s what we’ve uncovered:
• Stults responded to the character because it’s more of what he likes to play, “which is be a little bit more of a jackass,” he jokes. “What I think is the greatest thing about my character is he might look like what Hollywood perceives a leading man to be, but he doesn’t take himself seriously, at all. Which I think is way more interesting. They may have him as the lead of a television show on Fox wearin’ frickin’ jeans that you can’t bend over in and tight shirts and have a nice tan, but he says stupid things. He’s a little bit off. Which is so much more fun to do than be like ‘I am the savior. I will save you. I will beat you up.’ And I’ve done some of that stuff. Or the other way, which is you’re the halfway decent, tall meathead guy. You just stand there and look pretty. In this one, Walter is a moron.”
• Walter has a little bit of brain damage suffered during a roadside explosion when he was working as military police in Iraq, and it manifests itself in paranoia. “Not so far that he’s running around like Tony Shalhoub in Monk. For all intents and purposes, he’s a normal, charismatic, fun guy to be around. He’s just very distrusting of the government and phone companies or anything where he could be tracked or trailed or they could find out what he’s doing. He likes to live off the grid.” If it goes to series, expect it to be “quirkier” than Bones, faster-moving, and nowhere near as technical. (Walter doesn’t know how to use a cell phone.)
• Walter has two people on his team. Leo Knox (Michael Clarke Duncan) serves as his legal advisor, bodyguard, and best friend. “Walter walks into a situation, he’s a big guy, he can seemingly take care of himself, and he gets ass kicked, and Leo has to bail him out all the time,” says the 6’3″ Stults. “But if I start it, or I do something stupid and Leo thinks that it’s my fault, he makes me work it out myself and get beat up. He’s not gonna always come to my aid. He’s got a conscience as well.” Leo believes, as Walter does, that Walter’s special “finder” skills are a result of his brain being altered in that explosion — so it’s not a handicap, it’s a gift. Ike Latulippe (Saffron Burrows) — the badass who drives the boats, flies the planes, and owns The Ends of the Earth, the bar they call their headquarters — however, thinks that’s a load of crap and wants Walter to acknowledge it and seek help.
• Ike’s vibe with Walter is definitely a maternal one, Stults says. That doesn’t mean he’s not a ladies’ man. “It’s actually my favorite line in the show. In one of our arguments, Ike says, ‘Does anybody besides me realize that the only thing that Walter can’t find is lasting love?’ Which means every woman he meets, he falls in love with. And it’s genuine. He really thinks she could be the one. That’s one of his major flaws, but if you ask me, that’s one of the most wonderful things about him,” Stults says. It’s interesting then that Walter is also a little bit socially inept. Lacking a filter, he’ll ask questions that may sound insulting even though he doesn’t mean them to be. So again, how is he a ladies’ man? “It’s partly because it is so genuine. There’s no pretense. Whatever is on his mind, he says. If he sees a girl that he thinks is beautiful, he tells her, ‘I think you’re beautiful.’ And some of ’em fall for it, and then there’s some that don’t, unfortunately,” Stults says.
• Stults and Duncan should have good chemistry. The two of them worked together in 2005’s D.E.B.S., and when they each got cast in “The Finder,” Stults got a voicemail from a blocked number. It was Duncan saying, “You want to find out who this is, you call me back. And don’t f— with my money.” That last bit, Stults says, is something Duncan used to say to him while filming D.E.B.S., and it means not to get him in trouble by making him laugh on set. “I’d say stupid things and he would get caught laughing and I wouldn’t. That was the way I liked to do it. So when I finally talked to him, he said, ‘Geoff, I’m serious, man. I ain’t f—in’ around this time. This is a great opportunity. I don’t want to be gettin’ yelled at because of you makin’ me laugh on set.’ So obviously, once he said that, all I tried to do was make him laugh on set.”
In case you’re wondering, Stults does a solid Duncan impersonation. And also, Duncan got him back: The hotel they were staying at while filming “The Finder” had 22 floors, and Duncan, wearing a 50-pound weight vest, would make Stults run them with him. “Every five flights, you had to do 20 pushups, and every 10th floor, you had to do 20 push-ups and a hundred jumping jacks,” Stults says. “We’d run up and down, and after a couple times, we’d get to the top and he’s got kettlebells. That’s basically a giant round weight with a handle on it, and you just swing it around and do squats and all this s— that I’d never done before. I’m tryin’ to be a tough guy, but he’s literally standing above me like a drill sergeant screaming at me, ‘Do another one! Do it!’, spit flying out of his mouth, and I’m so scared to not do it. It was ridiculous. And then I pretended like I was good, and I had to go downstairs and buy Epsom Salt and put it in the bathtub and just lay there for hours.” (Stults’ retaliation: If he had an earlier call time than Duncan, he would bang on his door on his way out.)
• Remember how the shooting of this episode was delayed? Well, producers were not only trying to find the right man for the role, but also convincing him to take it and working around his schedule. Stults admits he originally passed on coming in for the part because he had his heart set on finding a half-hour comedy this pilot season. But then he agreed to meet with Hanson, producer Barry Josephson, and director Dan Sackheim. “About two minutes in, I said to myself, ‘Oh, God—- it, I’m gonna do this.’ I just knew right away that they’re the kind of people you want to work with. I was a little pissed actually when I left the room because I knew I was gonna do it,” he laughs. “You want to make sure that you like the project, No. 1, but maybe more importantly, that you like the people around it. That’s the way I look at things. I don’t look at things goin’, ‘Oh, is this gonna make me rich? Is this gonna make me a star? Am I gonna win awards?’ If all that stuff happens, great. Who cares? I still have to wake up in the morning and go to work and be happy to do it. Before I even got into the creative, and where it’s gonna shoot, and how’s it gonna look, and how tight are my jeans gonna be, I have to get through the Do I like these people? And I did. I got out of the meeting and called me manager and said, ‘S—, I really like Hart. I’m doin’ this.'”
Even after 20th Century Fox Television execs and Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly signed off on him, there was another stall: He was already signed on to play Special Agent Raymond J. Caffrey in Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar. “They had to push the shooting of this [Bones episode] back a few weeks to accommodate the dates on the J. Edgar movie. Even though it was a really small role, Clint Eastwood’s gonna win out. That’s just it. I would have swept floors to hang out with that guy,” Stults says. “I’ve never asked another actor or a director or anybody in the entertainment industry ever for a picture, and for three days I was trying to figure out how to ask him for a picture. And finally, his wife was on set and could basically see that I was so pathetic and wanted one, I didn’t even have to ask. She was like, ‘Hey, Clint let’s get a picture.’ I was like, ‘How did you know?!’ She just kinda looked at me like, ‘Yeah, don’t worry about it, douchebag.’ [Laughs] No, it was actually really nice.”
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