Interview with Eoin Macken of 'The Night Shift'
MANILA, Philippines – The medical drama has had a long and proud history on television. Over the years, people have tuned in and become riveted by shows like ER, Chicago Hope, St. Elsewhere, even M.A.S.H and Grey’s Anatomy. This time, a new show called The Night Shift featuring characters with stethoscopes and hospital scrubs is set to invade primetime.
Set in the fictional San Antonio Memorial Hospital, The Night Shift, as the name suggests, follows the lives of a team of doctors working the graveyard hours, “where the toughest and craziest cases always seem to come through the door. Every shift is a fight between the heroic efforts of saving lives and the hard truths of running an underfunded hospital.”
The series stars relative newcomer Eoin Macken (Merlin) as adrenaline junkie TC Callahan. He is joined by an ensemble cast that includes Ken Leung (Lost) as his best friend Topher, Brendan Fehr (Roswell) as his protégé Drew, and Jill Flint (The Good Wife) as Dr Jordan Alexander, and Freddy Rodriguez (Six Feet Under) as senior manager Michael Ragosa.
Along with a select group of Southeast Asian journalists, Rappler got the exclusive chance to chat with the show’s star, Irish actor Eoin (pronounced Owen) Macken, who discussed his character’s quirky traits, what other shows he’s watching on TV, and why he thinks medical dramas are a hit with viewers.
Excerpts of the interview:
Where are you now? And what’s outside your window?
EM: Outside the window, I can see the beach. I can see palm trees, and I can see the sun and the mountains of Sta Monica. And a bunch of people. I am in my bedroom. In Los Angeles. Totally naked in LA. (Laughs)
You’re playing a guy who’s handsome and charming. So you’re basically playing yourself, right?
(Laughs) Well you said it, not me. But no, I think I got lucky with this character. He’s a lot of fun. On TV, they write really strong characters, but I try to imbue the character with a lot of my own traits. I think it’s important in this kind of show, you don’t want it to be overpowered by the kind of intensity and emotion, there has to be some kind of levity.
You’re also a director. Would you say being an actor helps with being a director?
Yeah it’s interesting, because Eriq La Salle who was on ER for many years directed an episode of our show. He was brilliant because he understood what we wanted to get across as a medical drama. I think when you act, it informs how you are able to direct because you understand every actor’s process.
Why do you think medical dramas have become popular over the years? What’s your favorite medical-themed show?
EM: I really love Scrubs. It’s fun. ER was great, too, of course. I think there’s so much drama inherent in being in a hospital. So many things happen. That’s what works and that’s a good platform in a TV show. I think that’s also what works in our show, because it’s in a night shift for a hospital. It kind of intensifies all that.
What kind of preparation did you have to do for the show?
EM: I’ve been lucky because my mom teaches nursing and I’ve actually taken her course a couple of times. I also did a whole science degree. We did a whole medical bootcamp before we shot. I also spent some time in a hospital because my aunt’s a doctor. Same with the army stuff; I watched a couple of documentaries and spoke to a couple of friends that are in the army. Got a lot of books. I figured I would go into the show and I would come out and I would qualify as a doctor. (Laughs)
Do you guys play with the equipment when the cameras aren’t rolling?
EM: Yeah all the time. It’s so much more fun fooling around with the medical equipment than to actually use them properly. (Laughs). We’d have wheelchair and gurney races. It was like being in school again. We did that way too much.
You started out as a model. Did you always know you were going to be pursuing this path, acting?
EM: No, not at all. I wanted to be a zoologist. I went to college for that. And then I always wanted to write. So my plan was to study zoology and psychology and then write. When I was in college I started acting. And it was a lot of fun. But no, I never thought I would be acting. I was too shy. When I was a kid, I did one play when I was 15 years old and I had one line.
Are you going to be the new McDreamy or McSteamy or McDreamy?
EM: It sounds like some kind of sauna or Jacuzzi. (Laughs) The Irish or Scottish way is that they always put Mc before a name, so I guess I can be called McMacken.
Do you watch TV yourself? What kinds of shows do you watch?
EM: I’m addicted to Game of Thrones at the moment, like everyone else is, I guess. And then there’s a really great Irish TV series called Love-Hate. And then, have you guys seen True Detective? I like that show a lot, too.
What’s your ultimate dream role?
I’d love to play the part of Cu Chualainn Na Fianna, one of the most famous names in Irish myths and legend. In fact, I actually shot myself as him, with a couple of pals. He’s like the most famous Celtic hero in Irish mythology. I’d love to play him. – Rappler.com
The Night Shift premieres June 1 and airs Sundays at 9:50 pm on beTV
Paul John Caña is the managing editor of Lifestyle Asia magazine and is a live music geek. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @pauljohncana
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