Tony Shalhoub returns as Monk in Mr. Monk's Last Case: A Monk Movie
Tony Shalhoub in Mr. Monk's Last Case: A Monk Movie
Shalhoub and Melora Hardin in Mr. Monk's Last Case.
It's not like Monk star Tony Shalhoub has warm, fuzzy feelings regarding the pandemic. But all those months of quarantining and being extra-fastidious about cleanliness did net one positive: The opportunity to revisit a certain agoraphobic and germ-obsessed character in Mr. Monk's Last Case: A Monk Movie. "For a lot of people, time just stood still," the actor says. "But for us, the time was right."
First, Shalhoub starred in the four-minute short Mr. Monk Shelters in Place in May 2020. Now he's getting the gang back together for the first time in fourteen years. And let's just say the San Francisco private detective still loves his hand sanitizer.
In Mr. Monk's Last Case (streaming December 8 on Peacock), Adrian Monk extricates himself from his regular therapy sessions to solve a personal case involving his stepdaughter (Caitlin McGee). While meticulously piecing together the clues, he faces off against an egotistical billionaire (James Purefoy) determined to become the first civilian to orbit Earth. His loyal cohorts, played by Ted Levine, Jason Gray-Stanford and Traylor Howard, return as well.
"I have to say, it was easier to get back into the character than I thought it was going to be," he notes. "We all just kind of fell into it. It was just kind of joyful and thrilling, and we all agreed that we missed it."
For Shalhoub, a versatile Yale School of Drama graduate who made his TV debut in a 1986 episode of The Equalizer, portraying the eccentric character from 2002 through 2009 on USA proved to be a career-changer. Nominated for an Outstanding Lead Actor in Comedy Series Emmy award every season, he took home trophies in 2003, 2005 and 2006. "We were this funky basic cable show!" he recalls. "So to even compete in the same arena as those massive network juggernauts was mind-blowing. But I think people caught on to the show because it was something both kids and adults could enjoy."
After Monk wrapped, Shalhoub went on to play Abe Weissman, the loving patriarch in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, for six years (for which he won his fourth Emmy). And though he admittedly doesn't watch much TV these days — "I just need a break from all that" — he likes digging into docuseries or retro fare, such as Daisy Jones & The Six. Below, he lists his Seven Shows.
Combat! (1962 - 1967, ABC)
This was an hour-long, black-and-white World War II series. Vic Morrow played the leader. I was just a boy when it was on the air, but I loved it. It was just so gritty. And it was World War II! Seeing the fighting and battles . . . these were the kinds of games that we would play outside.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964 - 1968, NBC)
When I was a kid, I loved all things about espionage. This was like a James Bond TV series, and each episode was like a standalone. David McCallum and Robert Vaughn were the stars, and they were really great. They had the most incredibly cool gadgets. I remember a whole line of toys came out of the show. Like, there was a radio that turned into a gun with the handle. A pen squirted purple ink, and then it would turn invisible!
I Spy (1965 - 1968, NBC)
This was another fabulous spy show. It was also groundbreaking because of the two leads. You had Bill Cosby, who was Black; and Robert Culp, who was white. And this pair worked together. It was so much fun and great to watch them.
Columbo (1968, 1971 - 1977, NBC; 1989 - 2003, ABC)
Oh, I mean I absolutely stole so much from Peter Falk when I was playing Monk. This was a character that was so brilliant in how he solved a case just by observing. But like Monk, he was always underestimated, because he's this schlubby, scatterbrained guy. I was like "I'm going to use that!" And I did.
All in the Family (1971- 1979, CBS)
It was huge when I was in junior high and high school. Nobody had ever seen a show like this — it was political and sophisticated and ballsy and yet so beautifully written and acted. My favorite character was Edith [Jean Stapleton]. She had no political agenda at all, so she would bridge these two worlds. Yes, she was a dingbat, but she was funny and quite charming and moving. How did she pull that all off?! It was a real feat.
Stark Raving Mad (1999 - 2000, NBC)
I will pick one of my shows that won't hurt anyone's feelings!
So, I played a character named Ian Stark, who was this Stephen King-like horror writer. Neil Patrick Harris played his editor, Henry, who was socially awkward — and a little bit like Monk, coincidentally. So, we were this odd couple who had to work together. Steven Levitan created it, whom I worked with on Wings back when he was just a junior writer. Then he went on to do Just Shoot Me and Modern Family, of course. It was so much fun to do and fun to watch, and I loved the energy of it. But NBC canceled it after one season. You'd have to ask them why, but I think it aired during a time when those multi-camera sitcoms were starting to fade. You can still watch it on YouTube.
Money Heist (2017 - 2021, Antena 3, Netflix)
There are so many good streaming shows, but I really got into this drama from Spain. Oh my God, I was so invested in the story for all five seasons! I loved the fact that it was both this heist and a semi-telenovela. I also love seeing a show where I don't know any of the actors. It's easier for me to just buy into these characters. And I loved every single one of them. This show actually became quite an international sensation once Netflix picked it up, and it became a big one for me, too.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.