Still Reeling From That Bones Fall Finale Twist? TJ Thyne Speaks About the Life-Changing Future for Hodgins
Spoiler alert! Do not read this post unless you've seen the two-part Bones fall finale!
TJ Thyne, who plays Jack Hodgins, has been a part of Bones since the very first episode, but he’s about to take on one of his biggest challenges on the series: being paralyzed.
The twist was originally supposed to play out in the season’s opening hour, but circumstances led to the show swapping episodes at the last moment. But Thyne was briefed by the Fox drama’s new showrunners, Michael Peterson and Jonathan Collier, over the summer. “I was stoked,” Thyne recalls.
The only problem? He had to keep the storyline from his co-stars. “It was hard to keep it from them, but I kept it from them, as much as I could,” Thyne laughs. “We’re all so close, there were some rumblings between me and Tamara [Taylor] and Michaela [Conlin]. I’d be like, ‘Maybe something is going to happen.’ But they eventually found out, and we talked about it, together.”
“The Doom in the Boom,” the second half of the Bones fall finale, ended with Hodgins’s loved ones getting the news of his paralysis, but Hodgins himself didn’t find out in the hour. When the show returns, it’ll have moved forward about two months.
“Jack is just getting through his hospital stay,” Thyne teases of Bones’ eventual return. “He’s desperately trying to put on a happy face and show the world that he knows this is temporary; he’s going to get out of this chair, soon, and life is going to return to the way that it was. [Everyone else] is not so sure of that. Cam and Brennan and Angela are all so worried for Jack, for his safety and his health. They don’t want him doing anything to put himself in a worse situation than he’s already been.”
The reality of the situation will eventually hit Hodgins, though. “They’re going to let me go through [the stages of grief],” Thyne says. “Will it be seven episodes? Will it be a touch of each one in lots of episodes? We’re going to have to figure it out. But he’s going to go through all of the stages, and that’s the journey I’m most looking forward to.”
Hodgins’ paralysis will also shake up his marriage to Angela (Conlin). The couple had just decided to try for a second child when his injury appeared, and now they have to figure out where they stand.
“I think Angela and Jack, they had such great storylines early on in this show,” Thyne says. “They went through the wringer. But for the past many seasons, they’ve been the happy-go-lucky couple on the show: Hodgins doing experiments and Angela being a shoulder for others to cry on. We haven’t had much to do. To now have some conflict in our relationship, conflict in our world, it’s exciting as an actor.”
Thyne continued, “I love them, more than any relationship on television. I think they’ve earned their love. [But] they’re going to be put to the test. It is for better or worse right now. I have faith they’ll see their way through, but it’ll get really ugly in the meantime.”
Bones has often tackled real-world important issues (veterans, addiction, Neurofibromatosis, illegal immigration), and Thyne embraces being a part of a challenging story like this. “It’s nice to be able to shed light on an issue that truly affects so many people on this planet—dealing with being chair-bound and paraplegic,” he says. “What is that like, day in and day out? The relationships that are attached to that, let alone the physical strain of that. So I’m hoping to honor those who have to truly deal with this every day. I hope we do a good job of honoring those personal journeys. We try so hard on this show to be respectful of the science, but at the end of the day, it’s a TV show, so there are times we have to take liberties. I hope we don’t take any with this story that distances us too much from those who [have the real] experience.”
To that end, Thyne has also set a goal for himself as Hodgins navigates his new normal: he doesn’t leave Hodgins’ wheelchair on the show’s studio lot, once he goes through hair and makeup. “I’m doing it because I want to honor the character,” Thyne says. “I don’t want to just be jumping up and down between scenes. I want to be respectful to Hodgins and what he’s going through. There is a sense of, this is his life now, so with me in the chair, getting comfortable with it, understanding it. And all the struggles I go through with it: even something like a lot in 2015, it’s amazing how [difficult] it is.”
The (naturally) crowded soundstages have also proven to be an unexpected struggle for Thyne in his chair. “I ask them to give me a 10-minute warning before everyone else, so I can get myself to the stages,” he shares. “I have to know six or seven ways to get around, because in the last 10 minutes [since I left], someone has put a light right there and I can’t move my chair around it. You find these moments where you go, how would I get around? Instead of standing up and picking the chair up over something, it’s like, all right, I have to find a way. There have been one or two times where I found myself a bit stranded. “
But Thyne is very aware he’s lucky. “At the end of a 12, 14-hour day, I’m able to stand up,” he notes. “What a blessing; what a gift. I get to do the thing so many people in this situation would love to do: at the end of the day, I get to file it away and stand up, out of the chair.”
Showrunner Michael Peterson also praises Thyne’s commitment to Hodgins’s new way of life. “TJ is the most committed actor I’ve ever seen when it comes to this,” he says. “When he’s on the lot, he doesn’t leave his wheelchair.” (You can read more from Peterson on all of Bones' finale twists here.)
For his part, Thyne is equally as impressed by his new bosses. “This has been my favorite season since the early days,” he says, noting the duo is constantly open to his feedback on storylines. “Jonathan and Michael kick ass. They’re so good, and I’m having so much fun with them this season. I think they brought such a great energy to an eleventh season of a show.”
Bones returns in 2016.