By Jamie Ruby
Tonight NBC will premiere one of its new series, Saving Hope
. In the series, Chief of Surgery Charlie Harris (Michael Shanks), who works at Hope-Zion Hospital with his fiancée and fellow surgeon, Alex Reid, played by Erica Durance, enters a coma after being in an accident.
While Reid races to save her fiancée's life, though comatose, Harris is "awake" and explores the hospital in "spirit" form, not sure if he is dead, a ghost, or a figment of his imagination.
Reid and the medical team, including new surgeon Joel Goran (Daniel Gilles) continue to try to save Harris as well as other patients. Dealing with the difficult decisions of the field, they struggle to keep alive hope.
Erica Durance, who is probably best known to fans as Lois Lane on Smallville
, recently talked to the digital media about the new series and a bit about what we can expect to see in the coming episodes.
NBC Conference CallSaving Hope
June 1, 2012
4:05 pm CTSCIFI VISION:
Can you talk about how you got involved in this show?ERICA DURANCE:
Sure. It was - I was approached last -- gosh -- last May with it, and it came through with a few other scripts and I just - it - I just fell in love with it right away. And lots of banter back and forth about what we wanted to do with it, and they were allowing me to step in a have a producerial credit, which was exciting for me because I've always wanted to educate myself a little bit more about the other side of the biz, and then we shot our pilot in July.
So, it's been - it's a very interesting process given that we weren't sure what was going to happen, and it's - so finally we came around to March and got our pickup notices and away we've been going. It's been fun.SCIFI VISION:
Can you tell us a little bit about more about your character? Just kind of more about her personality and who she is. A little insight into the character.ERICA DURANCE:
Well, you find her - she's kind of - it's interesting because you - she's this very driven pragmatic person, believes only in what she can see and touch and the tangible. And she's come from basically nothing and she's a self-possessed woman that basically works her way through school, and this is has been what she's wanted to do her whole and she's fascinated by it. So, like her brain just kind of thinks just with the here and now and the present, and there's not that extra belief in anything else that's going.
And she finds herself in this hospital situation as a doctor, ends up falling in love with the Chief of Surgery and who is opposite to her and starts to kind of bring out other sides to her, and then you just kind of see as it goes along. And what's interesting about this particular season that I'm working on is that because of the fact that he's gone into this coma, she's forced to really look at the - what she really believes about life. And the whole concept of, you know we can have all these set morals for how we feel about things, but when tragedy comes into our life what would or wouldn't you do to bring that person back to you?
And so, she - you see that she slowly throughout the season starts to change those initial parameters and feelings that she had, and she's grasping at straws. And she's an incredibly loyal and she's just this really awesome chick.QUESTION:
I'm just curious about what the show is going to look like on a weekly basis? I mean, what range of emotions is Alex going to be going through over this first season?ERICA DURANCE:
Well, you know it's a good thing. I should have asked that question of myself before I took it, because it's been a real, real roller coaster and most shows work up to a point like this, and we started at this just high octane place. And so, as an actress it's been very interesting to try to find different levels and different ways to experience this huge emotional stake, and she's always been this high stakes of emotion.
And it was interesting, we were talking to grief counselors and those kind of people and they - you know and they help us with all the different kind of avenues that you go through and - grief, rage, despair, denial; all of those things. So, you see all of that happening and you see moments where - you know glimpses. What I love about what they've done is, so that you don't always find her in this sense of cataclysmic despair, is they do these wonderful flashbacks to her Charlie's relationship.
And so you see, you know the kind of woman that she was before this happened, and then just how tragic it is that, you know all of that other stuff is going on and how it's kind of changed her. And along with that particular storyline, you know the overall theme of it is about saving and holding onto hope in your own life and looking for positivity, and what do we do, you know in our own ways to reach for human contact.
And so, having the Charlie character in this kind of in between world has allowed us to use the backdrop of a medical drama, which brings in a lot of those high stakes situations, and basically give another perspective to it. And so, you've got little vignettes of fun, quirky, light stuff going on, and then you have, you know the main course of what's happening with me. And I think that they've tied it well - really, really beautifully together. It's a beautifully shot show.QUESTION:
As far as the larger purpose of the device you're using here by having Charlie walk the halls after he enters the coma, what are we going to be doing with that? I mean, is Alex going to get chills when he's [around]?ERICA DURANCE:
Matt, you know you have to watch this stuff.QUESTION:
But, is she going to get chills? Is he going to have a mission? Is he going to do stuff?ERICA DURANCE:
Well, besides just stand around, yes. Basically, what you have happening is, depending on the cases and the things that are going on, there's - it's an interesting thing because it's - they have a parallel thing going on, so he's working on somebody. She's usually trying to work on the patient herself. She's dealing with trying to keep her own job and she could potentially lose her job, and that's where I find it really interesting.
She starts out in this kind of black and white, "This is how I see the world," and as the season goes along you start to see these moments where she starts to slowly believe that there's other things potentially out there, because it's almost like she feels his presence, or does she? You know, does she know that he's there? Is he with her? And it's an interesting and wonderful love story, this trying to connect between the two worlds, intermingled with many, many other things that are going on.QUESTION:
Outside of the medical jargon and the emotional tolls, are there any other aspects that you found challenging about his role?ERICA DURANCE:
Oh, you know I touched on it a little bit in another conversation that I had where I think it's just something that's so different for me, and it is those emotional high stakes. I think that it's also just, you know to speak as an actress, the fact that I'm doing the lead in it and I'm in every day and almost all the scenes. And the how do you to keep it fresh, how do you keep interesting and new? And, you know that's been one of our biggest concerns. And the biggest things that we work really hard to change is that, you know I can't really leave the hospital that much, right, I'm in there, so find reasons for me to be there and ways for me to keep it all fresh.
And so, you know from just that kind of worker (bee) side of it, that's been quite challenging. And - but I would say one of the most interesting things was learning about - more about the medical side of things. And, you know I did go shadow at (Arthur) and see surgeries and - you know so you're constantly trying to learn a little bit more, but it's also she's supposed to a very good doctor. So it's not just, "Do I have to do these surgeries," but I have to be good at what I'm doing, which is - you know this - it takes years for people to figure out how to do that. So, that was really, really challenging.
A lot of the OR scenes and the surgeries and getting all of that right is like this crazy, you almost feel like you're doing a play because there's all those actions and everything that's going along with it.QUESTION:
In what ways do you think Alex is a product of her past, as far as maybe her growing up and, you know her past relationship with Joel? What ways has her past shaped her?ERICA DURANCE:
I would say just the fact that she came from nothing and did this all on her own. She just wanted to do something more in her life and she'd always wanted to help people, and I think that, you know I made up my own personal little back-story that's driven her to the point of needing to physically be there and helping people. And I made my own, you know specific tragedy that she came from that's made her such an achiever.
And her relationship with Joel is very, very tumultuous. It was very painful for her. And so, it did shape and shut her off a little for a while, and then of course she meets Charlie. So, I think it's like in any person's life, in any character's life, all those pieces do shape you to be the person you are at the moment.QUESTION:
So many people admire you and think of you as their hero. Who are some of yours?ERICA DURANCE:
Oh, gosh. Well, I guess I would think my - the person that's closest to me, as far as a hero, is my own mother. And I watched all - her strength and her compassion and what she did when she took care of us when I younger. And I have a dear, dear friend named (Kathy Covert). She was a hero of mine who also helped shape who I am. So, I mean those are my close personal heroes.QUESTION:
I've been really impressed by the trend now to suddenly have the shows on that are full Canadian productions. Not just shot in Canada, but are really Canadian producers and stars, and Rookie Blue
and Combat Hospital
, and this one have all been really well made.
When you're doing this total Canadian production, are these a lot of people you've known from the other shows? Is there a feeling of comrade with them? And do you have some feeling for why we get this kind of quality from a lot of the Canada productions?ERICA DURANCE:
Well, I can say for our specific production that I have, as - who I'm part of, is we have a fellow that works as one of our Executive Producers named David Wellington and he created the whole look of it. And it's unlike anything I've seen, as far as just - it's just got its own stamp, you know? And that's the important thing when you see a show and when an audience member sees a show they want to connect right away to it by the look of it, and it's very clean and sleek and it almost feels like a movie, even though you're doing it - you know a TV show. And I give him a lot of that responsibility, and also Ilana as well.
And they put the whole team together, so they found all these wonderful actors from here and there. And the only one that I worked with before was Michael, and that's great fun. I've known him for a really, really long time, so that makes it - it makes it an incredibly easy job for me for sure. And I think it's just, yeah, it's nice if you know people and it's like, I guess, anywhere you work, right, you kind of draw from a pool of all the people you know, and so I'm very proud of our cast.QUESTION:
The acting is really good and I've had some people say the reason Canadian actors are so good is because they have the best qualities of English and American. And I don't know if that's true, but I was reading before you said all of your favorite shows are things like Pride and Prejudice
, and stuff like that. Is there some truth to that? Do you have kind of an English influence to you in some way, as far as taste or style of acting or something like that, or...?ERICA DURANCE:
Well, maybe you do kind of adopt a lot of what you watch, or somehow it becomes part of you. I think I need to do a small shout-out to my mother because she's America and she'll be reading this and going, "What (then), you've got other roots. What are you thinking?"
But, I think that you are really influenced by a lot of the things you watch, and I'm just - I've always fallen in love with those kind of shows and Downton Abbey
and - you know so perhaps if I end up gleaning anything from watching that I'll be - I'll consider myself very lucky. But, I actually hadn't heard that before. I think that's really, really interesting.QUESTION:
And I've just got to ask, your mother's American, but she moved up to Canada? How did that happen?ERICA DURANCE:
Yeah, she moved up to Canada. She just - you know she was college and met my father and moved up to Canada, and now that - like that whole side of my family is in the States and they're American, and my mom's down there. So, I have a little bit of both on either there, so I hate to feel like a trader to any country. So...QUESTION:
How has it been doing something that's a little more grounded in reality than what you've been doing the last several years of your career?ERICA DURANCE:
I always said when people were like, "You're - that show isn't very grounded." I was like, "Well, it's a certain kind of reality. That's for sure." But, the - this is, you know she's such a - there's a similarity, I suppose and part of it is just, you know you've got the same actress working, right? Both of my characters are both very strong people, but the thing with Alex's character is that she's - she works more from the brain, you know more from her head, less from her heart. She's less of a - (she uses Colorscapes) than Lois [Lane] was.
And so for me to kind of come in a situation, it's isn't just for me the fact that it is based in, you know real life stuff is that it's also to be a lead in how it's so different to have this consistency and carry this main story. And it's such a high stakes entry into the season and into the series that you find yourself going, "Okay. Wow, this is completely different. This feels so different."
But, what I like about it is I suppose I strip away a lot of the other things that you can - that you have as - in your arsenal because it's just you. I'm standing there in some scrubs, my hair is back, there's barely any makeup on, and away I go. And so, for me it's been really interesting and different. And I do love that they added the other portion to it to give us that window into the spiritual realm, because it's really we just ask a lot of questions throughout the whole series of just there's no judgment either way because we just - there's always that battle. Is it a scientific thing or is it - or is there something else out there?
And I think people are fascinated by that conversation, so we just we keep finding different things in each episode to ask a question. And I'm really excited about what the - the way the creators have done it.QUESTION:
I wanted to ask you about producing, because you said you were excited to be a producer on this show. What has that entailed and what have you learned so far in the episodes you've been a producer on?ERICA DURANCE:
You know, it - what it did first was just allow me to have an opening into the room, you know, where the door closes and the actors go away and we wonder what happens in there sometimes, right? And so, it's just more access to things and, you know whether it's the more what people, you know might - some of my fellow creators are like, "Are you sure you want all these emails, because it might be a little dry." And I was like, "No, I want to understand this." So, is - whether it's licensings or why things get changed and script analysis and just seeing it. I kind of - I do it with great respect to the people that are doing the really hard work. I would say that I'm - it's almost like the producer title gave me the ability to go in and shadow, you know, and just learn and you know try to get into the editing room and see how that whole process works and - just to get a newfound respect for what everybody does.QUESTION:
I wanted to know what some of your favorite shows are to watch in your downtime.ERICA DURANCE:
In my downtime? Well, I mentioned that I've really gotten into Downton Abbey
. I have actually really eclectic taste. I was intermingling Downton Abbey
, and then I was watching [The Walking Dead
], I was watching a little bit of that, and then you know I have my half hour comedies that I love. I actually quite love the Hot in Cleveland with Betty White because I think she's so rad, that whole group of women. So, it kind of goes around like The Big Bang Theory
and New Girl
, and I like Happy Endings
. I mean those are the more recent kind of just last season ones, but I'm always into exploring things. I'm looking forward to - and I still like the Sci-fi fantasy ones. The ones that are just kind of, you know that whole experience with Lost
. Like, what's in the hatch? So, if something comes in that has something that's got that kind of weird twist to it, I like that as well. So, it just depends on my mood.
...You can pick a couple and write it down and there you go.QUESTION:
Do you have a lot of those on your DVR right now, or do you have anything special on there waiting for you?ERICA DURANCE:
Oh, gosh. You know when - I have so much to catch up on and I've - I don't even have a DVR out here. I've just been in Toronto and I've just been shooting all the time, but I'm constantly out there going, "Is there anything new? What else should I watch?" So, if you have advice I'll write it down. I still go old school sometimes and just go get the DVD sets.QUESTION:
If your character had a music contract what would be three of the songs that you would listen to, in your character as Dr. Alex Reid?ERICA DURANCE:
In my character? My gosh. Okay. Well, unfortunately my character's had some pretty blue moments, so "Run to You" by Lady Antebellum. And "The Light," by Sara Bareilles...and Alicia Keys' "Superwoman."QUESTION:
You know, the only reason why I'm asking you these questions is because you pretty much answered all my other questions. And so, like as I was listening I just wanted to know what would be something that would calm your character down.ERICA DURANCE:
Thank you. That was a such a great question and that's basically a lot of what I do when I'm preparing for something that I find emotionally difficult. I'm always listening to music, so that is very apropos.QUESTION:
You spent so many years on Smallville
, so what is it like leaving something, that I imagine turned into a home for you, to venture out into doing a new show? Is it refreshing, is it kind of scary? What are your feelings about it?ERICA DURANCE:
Well, gosh, you know it was really bittersweet for me. I feel that I basically wrung out every bit of excitement that I could when I was on the show. I knew that - I always know when I go in it's going to end, so I just go for broke and I enjoy myself the whole time. So, when it ended I was quite sad, but I knew that I had enjoyed everybody as much as I could in that time.
And it's always a little bit daunting, I think, when you're coming to a new show. You have to try to figure out who everybody is, they have to try to figure out who you are, and especially in a first new season, right? I mean even in your first few everybody's still trying to find their way, you know? You're they're trying to find their look of it, and so you feel passionate. And so, you have those nerves because you feel really good about the show, you think that, "Yeah, it has a good story to tell," and you just - you know you hope that people will also understand too when you're starting a show. Everybody's just finding their way, so sometimes it takes a while to get the total pace going, and that sort of thing.
So, I think that that's something that kind of hits me is like, "Can I do this justice? Can I - am I going to be able to step into this role? Am I going to be able to feel what I need to feel and all those things?" So, it definitely - it would have been - it's also really amazing because you get these great new surprises and you meet a bunch of wonderful talented people. And so, it's just - but that'll always be that way for me, because I just kind of - whenever I partner something I dive in and love on everybody, and then I'm always really excited (what) it's done.QUESTION:
When you were growing up on the turkey farm in Alberta, did you dream of becoming an actress? Was that one of your things you had to be?ERICA DURANCE:
You know, I don't think so, but I did want to - I wanted to be able to experience something amazing and I wanted something big. Like, I wanted to have a bigger life. I wanted to go places and travel and I wanted to experience the great, wild, passionate things. And so, I think it's really cool that I ended up being able to do this for this time, and I'm really grateful for it because it's allowed me the travel, it's allowed me all of these great moments.
And I did want to push out of my world, which at that time I see - you know I look back on it and I feel so fondly, but I know as a young girl I wanted to, you know see the big, big world. So, I think that this has provided that opportunity.QUESTION:
You still live in Los Angeles as opposed to Canada now?ERICA DURANCE:
I - actually I was on my way moving down there, and then the show got picked up, so right now I have a - my husband and son and I live in Vancouver still because my son's heading into - back into school and he love it there.
But, I have that secondary place in L.A. to get down to so that I can be available.