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TwoCents and Five Questions with Erica Durance (Saving Hope)

is there hope to be saved?
Erica Durance, Actor

Erica Durance will probably be mainly remembered for her iconic role as Lois Lane on the CW’s Smallville. She portrayed the strong news woman-about-town for six of the ten seasons of the show. Many might not know this about her, but she actually hails from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Almost all of the TV shows she has appeared on have had a sci-fi edge. Starting tonight, she will star as Dr. Alex Reid on NBC’s Saving Hope. She plays a surgeon whose fiancé is in a coma and she has to deal with all the ramifications of the situation. She had some interesting things to share in a recent conference call.

TheTwoCents: 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 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 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.

TTC: Can you tell us a little bit about – a little bit more about your character?
ED: 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 life 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 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, 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.

TTC: What range of emotions is Alex going to be going through over this first season?
ED: 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 help us with all the different kind of avenues that you go through; 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 and Charlie’s relationship. ​And so you see, the kind of woman that she was before this happened, and then just how tragic it is that all of that other stuff is going on and how it’s kind of changed her. And along with that particular storyline, 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, 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.

TTC: Outside of the medical jargon and the emotional tolls are there any other aspects that you found challenging about this role?
ED: 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, from just that kind of worker bee side of it, that’s been quite challenging. But I would say one of the most interesting things was learning more about the medical side of things. And, you know I did go shadow at the hospital and see surgeries and so you’re constantly trying to learn a little bit more, but 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 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 crazy, you almost feel like you’re doing a play because there’s all those actions and everything that’s going along with it.

TTC: What are some of your favorite shows to watch in your downtime?
ED: In my downtime? Well, I’ve really gotten into Downton Abbey. I have actually really eclectic taste. I was intermingling Downton Abbey with Spartacus, and then I was watching, oh gosh, what is the zombie one? There’s that zombie on AMC?
TTC: The Walking Dead?
ED: I was watching a little bit of that, and then 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 explore 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 hat? 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.

Saving Hope premieres tonight, Thursday, June 7 at 9 PM ET on NBC. Don’t miss it!

Anne – Associate Editor

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