How do you explain the phenomenal success of the series around the world?
Bruno Heller: That’s a good question. I think the first reason is due to Simon (Baker), who is a star in his natural state, in the sense that he is incredibly sincere, which tends to be felt when he appears in the screen. When he walks into a room, he lights it up with his presence. People also appreciate his grace and kindness. And for a series to work, it’s a necessary part. If you provide the ideal setting for an actor of this caliber, then you have success. He is in the lineage of Gene Kelly and Cary Grant.
Another reason for the success of the series is its subject matter and the fact that mentalists are kind of seers to people. Psychics all over the world exert a kind of fascination and that was my starting point when I envisioned the series, to work on something that is both universal and original. You can find clairvoyants all over the world: in China, Brazil, France … So inventing a character who comes from this world was for me a way of making sure that people would buy-in and understand who he is. He is both a charlatan and an honest man. I was sure it was going to work. And it was.
What can you tell us about the end of Mentalist?
This last season was conceived as a kind of best-of. It’s a happy ending that brings together all of the elements that fans of the show have enjoyed all these years, a direction we preferred to take rather than experimenting with something new and weird. In a best-of, it’s not about trying new things, but about repeating the most famous titles. This is our way of thanking the audience for being so loyal. At the end of the day, everyone is happy and hugging each other, which for me is the real purpose of stories being told: that they can convey something positive to the audience. This is what we tried to do with Mentalist.
Did you have this ending in mind from the start of the series, or has it taken hold over the seasons?
No, the end was imagined according to the evolution of the characters. This is the advantage of working on a series for so long, you follow the guidelines imposed by history. This final season centers around the romance that has developed between Jane and Lisbon, if it can work between them and if they have a future in common. At the start of the series, I was asked over and over again if the two heroes were going to end up together, and I replied, “Oh no, that would be horrible!” They are like brother and sister, that cannot happen! It’s like when in a group of friends, two very close people end up getting together. From the point of view of the characters but also of the chemistry between the actors, this idea gradually took hold. Their romance isn’t something we wanted to impose at all costs, it’s the logical flow of the series. If this was just unimaginable at first, it has now become inevitable.