TV drama is set to in­trigue

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY -

MOST TV med­i­cal dra­mas might give you the im­pres­sion a hospi­tal is where a lot of smart but so­cially awk­ward peo­ple go to flirt with one an­other and, ev­ery once in a while, tend to the ail­ments of their pa­tients.

Now here comes Emily Owens, MD, which con­tin­ues the pat­tern by hav­ing a bunch of good-look­ing, well-ed­u­cated medi­cos striv­ing for suc­cess while look­ing for love and oc­ca­sion­ally heal­ing the sick.

Lead­ing the way is the ti­tle char­ac­ter, played by Mamie Gum­mer (Meryl Streep’s daugh­ter who ap­peared on The Good Wife), a gifted but in­se­cure in­tern look­ing for pro­fes­sional and per­sonal ful­fill­ment in her first job out of med­i­cal school.

How­ever, the pres­ence of her high school neme­sis Cassandra Kopel­son, played by Aja Naomi King, as a fel­low in­tern looks set to com­pli­cate mat­ters. Aja, I’ve done a bit of read­ing about your char­ac­ter Cassandra and she sounds kind of mean.

A lot of peo­ple say that. She’s very com­pet­i­tive, maybe even ag­gres­sive. And, yes, she can be mean but I re­ally think it’s just part of that com­pet­i­tive spirit, which can some­times bring out her bad side. You might want those qual­i­ties, han­dling life-or-death sit­u­a­tions.

Ex­actly. So could you tell us a bit more about Cassandra and her role on

The show fol­lows Emily as she be­gins her in­tern­ship at Den­ver Memo­rial Hospi­tal. She runs into Cassandra Kopel­son there, and as it turns out they went to high school to­gether. Cassandra was, of course, a won­der­ful, de­light­ful, pop­u­lar girl while Emily was quite the op­po­site. So she’s not thrilled Cassandra is there do­ing her in­tern­ship, and this com­pe­ti­tion en­sues be­tween us. Cassandra is not some pretty thing with no brains, she’s smart and ca­pa­ble, and I think that’s what drives her. She wants to prove she’s not get­ting by on looks. Emily has al­ways topped her aca­dem­i­cally but now things are chang­ing for Cassandra. Is it a fair fight? Are these two evenly matched?

Well, Emily’s a re­ally good doc­tor, and that re­ally lights a fire un­der Cassandra, who does a fair bit to psych Emily out. Cassandra has a great bed­side man­ner and wants to be a great doc­tor but Emily can re­ally think on her feet, you know? It’s a tough but re­ward­ing part for me be­cause Cassandra’s not one-note. I want to be able to in­cor­po­rate all of her el­e­ments – she has this com­pet­i­tive side but is also scared of fail­ing. It must have been an ex­cit­ing few months for all of you in­volved in the show. Get­ting cast in it to be­gin with, wait­ing to see if the show would get picked up, now wait­ing for the au­di­ence’s first re­ac­tion.

For me, it’s all been like a dream. I au­di­tioned in Los Angeles and was so sur­prised and happy to even get a call­back. But I was shocked when I ac­tu­ally got the part – I was scream­ing. Then shoot­ing the pi­lot in Van­cou­ver was amaz­ing be­cause the cast is so tal­ented and so much fun to be around. Be­ing in such a beau­ti­ful place around these won­der­ful peo­ple made me want to keep do­ing it, so it was a hard few months be­tween shoot­ing the pi­lot and wait­ing to see if we’d get picked up. If you had to sum up

how would you de­scribe it? It’s a ro­man­tic dram­edy – it’s got a bit of ev­ery­thing. It gets very dra­matic with the cases we’re treat­ing but it’s also funny as it fol­lows Emily try­ing to nav­i­gate through this new life in this new place. Then there’s a lot of ro­mance with peo­ple fall­ing in and out of love. For Cassandra, it makes sense for the best-look­ing guy – Emily’s old crush Will (played by Justin Hart­ley), in this case – and best-look­ing girl to be to­gether. It’s what should hap­pen. Of course, Emily is not a huge fan of that way of think­ing but that’s not Cassandra’s prob­lem.

Wed­nes­days, 9.30pm, Ten, Ten SC

Aja Naomi King.

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