Christopher Emerson appears in Miami Medical for the first time this coming Friday, April 9 on CBS (10/9c). He took time out from his busy schedule to answer a few questions about how he got his part on the show, what it was like working on this exciting new medical drama as well as sharing scenes with Jeremy Northam, together with his hopes for both his character and the show’s future.
JN.net: Hello, and welcome to JN.net. First of all, thanks very much for taking the time to talk to us. Miami Medical premiered in the US on Friday, April 2nd. Did you have a premiere party with your friends, stay home and watch it alone or give it a miss altogether? If one of the first two, what are your hopes for the show and how do you think audiences will react to it?
CE: Miss it? NO WAY! Everyone who knows me has heard me talk so much about the series and how excited I am to be a part of it that I think they are all extremely happy to see it start, just so I will finally shut up about it.
What’s funny is that I get so crazy nervous seeing my own performance, I’m actually glad my first episode is not until this week. Otherwise I may have wanted to not have a premiere party and watch it in the fetal position with a cold sweat.
From the first time I read the script before auditioning for the show, I loved the sort of adrenaline junkie, irreverent rockstar, “f#@% it” attitude the characters possess at this hospital, ESPECIALLY Jeremy Northam’s character Dr. Proctor. Personally, I love that. My hope is that audiences dig it and it resonates. As the laser-focused trauma unit helicopter medic Max, I’ve tended to be a bit more straight-laced and all business. Perhaps down the road, if Max gets to play a bigger role in the trauma unit, we’ll get to see his dark side too. Yes… I can see it now. Max, the sex-addicted-pill-popping-helicopter-pilot. LOL. We’ll have to wait and see.
JN.net: The show’s been promoted as “M*A*S*H in Paradise.” How do you feel about that? Does it accurately reflect the vibe you got from the show when you were on it? And how much did you know about the show before you auditioned?
CE: I was not quite old enough to catch M*A*S*H here in the States. I’ve seen episodes late at night on cable way after the series had been off the air. But, my impression of the show is that it too was rather ground breaking for its time. That it really shattered the mold of what a medical show “should” be. So I would say, I really hope that our show is successfully received in much the same way, as it aims to turn the “medical drama format” on its head a bit. Sort of reinvent it via a freshly unique and eclectic group of characters.
All my scenes have included working with Mike Vogel, Omar Gooding, and, of course, Jeremy Northam. So, I’ve really had the chance to witness first hand the fascinating directions which each of these actors are taking their characters. The top notch writing really allows for that too. We have such great writing on this show and it opens up so many fun possibilities and room to play as an actor.
I knew very little about the show before auditioning for it. My agent called me and she was like, “Yeah, so Christopher, there’s this interesting new medical show. (At the time it had a different working title, Miami Trauma.) It’s CBS. Jerry Bruckheimer. And they are looking for a helicopter pilot. Not an actor who can play a helicopter pilot, but a real helicopter pilot with acting skills to play the role.” Just based on the fact that you’d have to imagine a requirement like that should radically reduce the competition for a role. My answer was a resounding, “HELL YES! I’m there!”
So, let that be a lesson to all you young actors out there. Ditch the acting coach, go get a flight instructor, and you too can have the crazy dumb luck of ending up on a TV show.
JN.net: You play a character called Max in “88 Seconds” (Episode 2 of the first season) and also in another episode entitled Medicine Man (the air date of which has yet to be confirmed). Will he be a recurring character in the show?
CE: I would absolutely love that. I keep planning to let the camera “accidentally” catch me shooting a flirtatious look at one of the nurses in the hope that a show writer spots it and runs with it. That’s the fantasy anyway, right? Problem is, as I said, I have only been in scenes with Mike, Omar, and Jeremy…soooo. I mean I still could, I guess, but that would be a whole different show!
JN.net: You have a private pilot’s licence. So did you get to fly the helicopter used in your scenes for the show?
CE: They have not let me fly the helicopter, no. Something about insurance. Whatever. Maybe there should be an episode, “Max Goes Joyriding!”
JN.net: Can you tell us what a typical day’s filming was like for you?
CE: The first time I was on set completely blew me away. We were on top of the tallest high-rise in Marina Del Rey, right along the Pacific coast line. It was a clear day with a nice on-shore ocean breeze and incoming on final approach to the helipad was the helicopter which we’d be using for the shoot all that day. I have some GREAT pictures of that moment. All I could think, over and over, was, “Holy s#!%, this is my office for the day!” As you can imagine there is seldom a day on the set of Miami Medical that could be called “typical.”
JN.net: There seems to be a lot of off-beat humour in the promo clips we’ve seen so far. Did that translate onto the set? What was the atmosphere like?
CE: The promos portray a wildly eccentric bunch of personalities all seemingly still able to kick ass and get the job done, right? Well, I’ll tell you, being a part of this show has been exactly like working with a real top-notch trauma unit. Everyone from the cast to the crew operates with remarkable surgical precision and a totally cool under pressure ease. Completely relaxed, getting the job done, every single week. Nothing but pros.
JN.net: You’ve also appeared in another medical drama, House M.D.. Do you think TV audiences need another medical drama and how do you think Miami Medical will differ from House M.D.? Why should people tune in and watch?
CE: Yes, I took a bizarre little turn on House M.D. as a door-to-door bible thumper looking to convert Dr. House to the teachings of Jesus. Yeah… that didn’t work out so good. Needless to say my character was no match for House’s razor sharp tongue, leaving me nothing to do but to flee with my tail squarely between my legs.
When you think about it, House M.D. is more of a crime-scene-type procedural drama, a mystery “whodunit”, a sarcastic and cynical Columbo in a doctor’s coat, than it is actually a hospital doctor drama series. I think in that unique way which House M.D. succeeded to reinvent the format and turn expectations on their head, so too will Miami Medical with the way it tells its stories via these refreshingly flawed dynamic characters. It’s a show which is smart enough to know what its audience expects from the typical hospital drama format and then proceeds to pull the rug out from under them as it always stays two steps ahead.
JN.net: At the TCA panel, Jeremy Northam, who plays Dr Proctor, was compared to Hugh Laurie, simply because he’s another Brit playing a doctor in a US medical show. But from what you’ve seen so far, how do you think the characters of Dr. Gregory House and Dr. Matt Proctor will differ and can you shed any light on how different or similar the actors playing them are?
CE: They are very different from one another. Dr. Proctor is more like a rockstar who decides to wake up most mornings and go practice medicine in his off time. There is also a lot more mystery which surrounds Dr. Proctor’s background and motives. I think once people see the show they will realize how different the characters really are from one another.
As actors, both Hugh Laurie and Jeremy Northam are very grounded and generous. Sometimes with big name actors they are only ever motivated by what will make their close-ups look better. I know… you’re thinking, “Say it isn’t so!” Shocking, right? But I was so grateful to discover both Hugh and Jeremy to be absolutely selfLESS in their approach to the scenes we were in together. In the scope of things, I’m just doing the best I can to contribute with my humble little slice of the pie… and YET… there I am, truly collaborating, brainstorming ideas, experimenting, and creating moments outside the script with the stars of these HUGE shows between takes. Too cool!!!
JN.net: You shared a scene with Jeremy Northam. Can you tell us a bit about that and what it was like to work with him?
CE: Coolest moment working with Jeremy. I had already been on a previous episode before getting to work with him. On that prior episode, the director’s style was one of making everything really pop. CAMERA…ACTION…TALK…GO GO GO…BAM BAM BAM…everything very fast paced and high energy. Well, alright…so when I returned for an episode with Jeremy, it was quite a bit further into the season and I’m figuring it would be good to meet that same energy from before. We set up for the first take and… BAM BAM BAM. Right? Well, as we head back to our first positions to go again, Jeremy literally puts his arm around my shoulder and confides to me, just actor to actor, that he has learned the best approach to this show’s style and dialogue is to not attack the line so hard, but to pick up the cue lightning quick and then just allow the actual line to roll off the tongue. There are many actors out there who would NOT have done that and just let me hang myself all day blasting out my lines. Was such a telling moment as to how generous and giving to his scene partners Jeremy is as an actor.
JN.net: What have you been working on since filming for Miami Medical and what’s up next for you?
CE: 2010 has been pretty incredible so far. I recently did a high-budget zombie webseries for Crackle.com with Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) called Woke Up Dead. Also finished a TV movie starring opposite Cybill Shepherd for Lifetime Network titled, Mrs. Washington Goes to Smith. I have been working almost non-stop on new voiceover projects too, voicing national TV campaigns for Ford Fiesta and Taco Bell. Currently, just about to wrap up voicing a very successful second season of Taking The Stage for MTV. I have also been pounding the pavement over there at MTV a bit, campaigning to be hired as the live in-show voice over announcer for the 2010 MTV Movie Awards and/or 2010 Video Music Awards. It’s sort of one of those “things I want to do before I die…” bucket-list items. So we will see how that goes.
Then, of course, there is always hoping that my character Max shows back up for that sex-addicted-pill-popping-adrenaline-junkie-storyline on Miami Medical as we talked about earlier. Ah yes, a boy can dream.
JN.net: I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope that dream comes true for you then! Thanks for talking to me and good luck when the show airs on Friday.
CE: Thank you!!
Kathryn Eastman (email@example.com) spoke to Christopher Emerson for JeremyNortham.net
Christopher Emerson is 23 years old and was born in Torrey, Scotland. He was brought across the pond by his Dad at the age of 2 and raised in the casino town of Reno, NV. He moved to Los Angeles after graduating from high school at 17. His first acting job was a small speaking role opposite Mel Gibson in the feature film What Women Want. Now an up-and-coming TV & film actor, his most recent credits include guest lead appearances on CBS’ long running Cold Case, a turn on House M.D. for FOX, and this exciting opportunity to play the recurring role of Max on Miami Medical also for CBS. Christopher is a very well-established voiceover artist having performed lead character voices in animated feature films such as LEGO/Disney’s just released The Adventures of Clutch Powers. He’s also voiced national television ad campaigns for Jitterbug, Starbucks, DishNetwork, Ford Fiesta, and American Idol. In addition, he’s been the in-show narrator voice of MTV’s hit series Taking The Stage for two very successful seasons, with a very possible third season being announced by the network soon. His website is PlanetEmerson.com and you can follow him on Twitter as @ChristopherE1