This Thursday NBC will debut the new Canadian medical drama Saving Hope, which stars Michael Shanks (of Stargate: SG-1 fame) as Charlie Harris the Chief of Surgery at Toronto’s Hope-Zion Hospital who, after a car crash, ends up in a coma. He soon finds out that he can roan the hospital in spirit form while his fiancé (and fellow surgeon) Alex Reid (Erica Durance of Smallville fame) tries to save his life with the help of other doctors, including surgeon Joel Goran (Daniel Gillies of The Vampire Diaries fame), as they struggle with their day-to-day lives to keep the hope alive at the hospital.
Back in April, at the NBC Universal Press Day, Erica Durance and Daniel Gillies along with Larry Gilbert, Vice President of Programming for Entertainment One Television appeared in front of the press to talk about their new show. The following is an excerpt of that Q&A:
Erica: Well, I always love a good script. I had been given a bunch of different choices but I kept coming back to (Saving Hope) because of the heart in it, because of the love story and yes, it has a level of sci-fi in it. I think there is just something about all the angst and all the drama that can happen. And really at the core of it is holding onto hope and finding hope. It is what do you do when your world is falling about, how do you hold onto the real, the tangible and how is (my character) going to push through and get (Charlie) back to her. I think that it is universally relatable to people. If you want to basically demoralize someone’s spirit, take away their hope and (then you see how they) battle with how to infuse with the people (you) work with every day, (dealing) with the current medical problems when everything else is slipping away.
Question: Was it important not to do another action sci-fi series?
Erica: I didn’t really think about that. I just fell in love with (the show) and that’s where we are right now. I think it has a little bit of something for everyone.
Question: What percentage of the show focuses on relationships and the actual medical drama?
Daniel: I feel we deal with (both) admirably; it’s always well balanced. We are five episodes deep now (as of the middle of April) and it’s always balanced so beautifully. It’s not exclusive to one or the other.
Daniel: Toronto. And, it feels like.
Erica: For the pilot we filmed in an actual hospital, but the rest of the episodes are being filmed in a studio set-up as a hospital.
Question: Did you get to go through an actual hospital? What was the feeling like being in that hospital?
Erica: We were in a specific wing of an actual working hospital. What was strange and a little off-putting was that we would be in the middle of a scene and then we’d hear “code blue” (announced) over the loud speaker; and we’d know that someone was actually experiencing a painful tragedy at that moment.
Daniel: It’s lovely to work into an environment where you realize you don’t have to do a hell of a lot of acting because they built a hospital (for us).
Question: Erica, can you talk about the shooting schedule and any anxiety you had about being the lead on the show?
Erica: I constantly have anxiety about being the lead in the show. I don’t talk it because it scares me, but I’ve always wanted to be part of something where I can work on a character in such a big manner. (As an actor) you get off on that with all the trappings of being a lead on a show, but I’m excited. The day-to-day schedule is crazy (because) we shoot seven day episodes, shooting nine pages a day, eight to nine scenes a day. I’ll start off in the morning weeping and wailing over Charlie and then I’ll be coming (in later with the medical stories). It’s been pretty insane. It feels like a roller coaster but I’m really very grateful.
Question: How do you handle the medical jargon?
Erica: I went to a hospital (to watch) surgeries specifically the types of surgeries that my character (performs). She is a general surgeon, which means I’m learning everything. We have consultants and medical advisors there every day and they are gracious, giving advice and telling (us) what they would do.
You can watch a trailer of Saving Hope here and make sure to watch the series premiere on NBC this Thursday, June 7 at 9/8c.