After a five-year stint on FBI thriller The Blacklist, Ryan Eggold, 34, steps into the lead role on medical drama New Amsterdam (starts Wed., Jan. 30 at 9pm; Nine. Watch the trailer below).
What appealed to you about New Amsterdam as your next TV project?
When I heard it was a medical drama, I went, “Oh, we’ve all seen that. I don’t know if I’m interested.” But I read the script and it was such a kinetic script that combined a lot into a short period of time and at its core had real people, not one-dimensional characters. And it was looking at healthcare in a way I hadn’t seen a medical drama do before.
It’s based on the experiences of Dr Eric Manheimer, on whom your character, Dr Max Goodwin, is loosely modelled. He’s also a producer – what insight has he provided?
He is such a fascinating guy to talk to and his book [Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital] is a great read. He has amazing insights from becoming a patient while he was a doctor – providing care and then becoming someone who needed to receive care. The biggest flaw Eric sees is that we’ve made healthcare too much of a big business in this country. It’s scary when you monetise people’s health and safety.
Healthcare is a huge topic at the moment in the US. Does it feel like there couldn’t be a more perfect time for New Amsterdam?
It does. That’s why [creator] David Schulner wanted to write this show, because everybody was at home at the dinner table having conversations about healthcare. In the pilot, Max fires an entire department on his first day as medical director. We’d all love to go into a new job and just start fixing things like that. Yeah, go ahead and just try and make it better. Oh my God, it’s a dream! I don’t want to paint a picture of having all the answers but we all want to call it like it is and say, “This is the problem. Why can’t we just do this?” Sometimes bureaucracy gets in the way of common sense. Look at gun control. Sometimes you want to be like, “Dude, it’s so simple – just put in a few basic laws and maybe people will get hurt less.”
And Max is married. Is it nice to defy expectations that this will be one more bed-hopping hospital drama?
A lot of these characters have chemistry, and I hope we won’t descend into who’s sleeping with who, but there are some entanglements. It’s more than two people sneaking off into a closet to make out.