by MSN Entertainment Canada (Jun 18, 2013 – MSN Entertainment Canada)
It’s not very often that a medical drama will delve into the spirit world, taking us through procedural ghost stories of patients trapped in limbo, but that’s the atypical angle Saving Hope offers to pull in its viewers. And pull in viewers it does. CTV’s hour-long hospital appointment reigned as the most-watched Canadian drama of the 2011-12 broadcast year, helped in part by its heartwarming sentiments, wandering spirits and comely leads. Now entering its second season, we caught up with Erica Durance, who plays the ever hopeful Dr. Alex Reid, to talk about her growing medical knowledge, potential love triangles and grossing people out…
So you came to Saving Hope from Smallville, having appeared as Lois Lane for seven years — what attracted you to this role? And to Alex?
The whole idea was different. I went from a sci-fi fantasy, a wild ride based in euphoria that was so visual, to real life. [Saving Hope] is definitely real life stuff and, take all the glam away, Alex is a woman struggling to make ends meet and bring the love of her life back. I was also really drawn to the idea and script — specifically since it was written by a woman, for a woman — as well as the whole concept of asking those questions of what really happens when tragedy strikes? This big life question that bring us all together.
Has that whole concept of life beyond death influenced your own personal beliefs in any way?
Not so much influenced, but rather reaffirmed things that I already believe a lot in life. Like choices of where things go and what happens after life, however, the show still challenges me to look at things in a different way, from a different perspective.
Did you have any personal fascination with the medical profession?
I was definitely enamoured with the idea of dealing with medical stuff. I’m always wanting to do something I’m intellectually stimulated by and, in this sense, this is a profession I would never in a million years dream of being a part of. It’s a chance to sit and speak with doctors and be on the periphery of it all. It’s been so interesting watching real surgeries and having the professionals in to explain stuff.
I thought for a very long time about working in child psychology. As a young woman I found that fascinating, but as I get older I don’t think I quite have the stamina to deal. And then of course as every actor in this business gets into a role they begin to think, ‘Maybe I could do medicine,’ until the real life stuff happens and then they think, ‘Oh no I really can’t.’
Going into the second year of working on Saving Hope, do you understand most of the medical jargon and acronyms Alex reels off?
I’m getting better. I know how to throw it out there and like to think I know what I’m saying. Whether I really do is a different thing, but we have people to help us with pronunciations and understanding what it is you’re talking about. All joking aside you do get a tutoring session, but some days are better than others depending on how tired you are and how engaged your brain is.
Last season had some great medical moments, like the double hand transplant and flesh eating disease — what can we expect to see in future episodes?
We attempt a double surgery with someone who ends up having a really severe back/spinal problem, as well as stuff that my character (a general surgeon) deals with in his stomach, so we have to do a crazy operation. That was pretty nuts, but it’s all rather interesting. We’ll go to the doctors and say, ‘Come on, this stuff doesn’t really happen,’ and their like ‘Oh yes it does.’ There was another one with parasites that grossed most people out, but to me it just looked like tapioca pudding so I was fine!
…you don’t get squeamish too easily?
I’m not one to be squeamish because I’m usually the one who’s grossing everyone else out! Our team that works in prosthetics are really amazing and it’s very life like. On television you’ll only see a small percentage of what we film, but I find it so fascinating and fun. I had a bunch of fake blood squirt up into my face the other day and run under my eyes. That’s not the way we’re supposed to be going, we’re not filming a horror, but we do have a lot of fun moments.
So there’s lots of weird science to look forward to…what else will season two bring?
I think people will really enjoy the upcoming season as it’s quite a little more procedure, while keeping the heart. You get to know more people in the hospital and we’ll appeal to the audience who are look for more lightness and fun. It keeps the heart, which our diehard fans want, but also balancing it out with more perspectives.
How does it feel being such a strong female lead in this show?
I never feel like I’m carrying the show, but rather am just a part of an ensemble piece. I’m so proud of everyone who works here and the way they cast it. There’s so many interesting characters and the actors have done such a great job at making them so unique.
You and Michael have worked together before, how is your relationship off camera?
We do get on really well. One of my first jobs was on his show [Stargate SG-1] and then he came and worked on my show, but now we’re working together. It’s really great to work with someone who knows you that well. It makes a really stressful environment into a relaxed one and we do have a lot of laughs.
We also have new characters like Being Erica’s Erin Karpluk, as well as old antagonists like Dawn Bell (Michelle Nolden), does this mean we’ll see more love triangles developing? Maybe even another flirtation between you and Joel (Daniel Gillies)?
Erin has more to do with Joel, but there’s definitely some fun happening between them. They’re keeping me in the dark with some of that stuff, but there’s always tension there and people will always find their favourite couple to root for. Therein lies the show.
And how about a wedding for Alex?
Well you kind of left us hanging in the finale…
And I’m going to keep you hanging! I think there’s a lot of twists and turns, but… I’m not going to tell you!
Saving Hope season two premieres June 25 at 10 p.m., ET on CTV.