Interview with Ryan Eggold and Jocko Sims of “New Amsterdam” on NBC by Suzanne 3/23/21
These guys were very nice and interesting to listen to during our press junket. They’re clearly enthusiastic not only about their jobs, but about life in general. They have a lot of compassion for what we’re all going through this past year. I hope you enjoy the interview!
Question: So, congratulations, guys, the season’s been fantastic. So far, a lot of drama, as expected on the show, but tell me, you guys are shooting in the middle of the pandemic, and you’re telling stories of the pandemic. Is there anything new that you discovered, Ryan and Jocko, in the process about the pandemic as first responders that you weren’t aware of, and how did that move you?
Ryan: Well, for me, I think just in the process of imagining what this experience must have been like to be a frontline worker and be inundated with patience and overwhelmed, and the system being overwhelmed not having enough supplies, not having enough masks, not knowing exactly how to treat this virus, trying every day to figure out what’s the best treatment, and wrap your head around this thing, and just in the process of having to imagine that and having makeup, you know, put the lines on and sort of try to embody that emotional experience, it just makes you think about the reality of it and the incredible sacrifices made, the incredible amount of work and dedication and sleepless nights that this must have been for so many frontline workers. It just doubled my respect for them, which was already enormous, but, yeah, just an incredible feat of heroism on a daily basis, really, and here Jocko and I are getting to sort of pose as these amazing figures, but it’s really incredible what they’ve done.
Jocko: And for me, much the same. You know, we have our frontline workers that we actually work with on set, and we were able to keep in touch with them throughout all of this horrible process. After a while, you start to become numb to all of the news and everything you see, but, for me, what was interesting is seeing that first episode of this season, that first…five minutes. It was, in a sense, a reset and another eye opening experience for me, down to the details. I remember seeing [Janet Montgomery] on set, when they had the red marks from the makeup on her face, and I went, “What’s that for?” They said, “From the mask.” And as small as that was, it kind of just was heavy on me to realize how many hours per day that the frontline workers had to wear the masks to protect themselves as they risked their lives to save our lives. So, it was quite impactful once the show got started, and I was able to see that in a different light.
Suzanne: Hi, guys, thanks for coming here today.
Ryan: Hey, of course.
Suzanne: I just was taking some classes last year and one of the guys in class — he’s a huge, huge fan of your show. He’s guy in his 20s, so getting all the demographics there.
Ryan: That’s awesome.
Suzanne: Yeah, I’m behind on the show a little bit. So, I asked some of your fans on Facebook, and Missy wants to ask Ryan, do you have a particular person you use for inspiration in this role?
Ryan: Certainly. I mean, perhaps it sounds a little obvious, but the role is based on Eric Manheimer, who Jocko knows as well, who wrote this book about his experience at Bellevue and is an amazing guy. He’s very forward thinking, very friendly, very down to earth, very human, very warm. He always wanted to be in touch with the patients, in touch with the other doctors. He didn’t want to sit upstairs behind some desk and make calls. He wanted to get out there and wear scrubs and say, “I’m here. I’m a doctor. Even though I’m the medical director, I’m not just a bureaucrat; I want to roll my sleeves up.” So, [I had] many, many interesting conversations with him about his views on health care and a lot of the red tape that he’s had to go through to get patients care. Sometimes things sort of seem obvious, but there’s so much in the way, and I think that’s really what our shows has become about. It’s about, how do we cut through all that junk and actually get people cared for and help in a real way? So, he’s definitely a big inspiration.
Suzanne: Okay. Yeah, your signature line there, “How can I help?” that’s pretty much everything in a nutshell, right?
Ryan: That’s right.
Suzanne: And, Jocko, what has been the most interesting story that you’ve had to film that you’ve liked?
Jocko: Oh, my goodness, that’s a tough one. I think I would say the most impactful for me have been Episode Four, I think, of season two and Episode Six of season two that were centered on the health of African Americans. Particularly, because, historically, many of us tend to not be favorable towards the healthcare and healthcare system for many obvious reasons that we’ve been able to learn about. So, those episodes were great. I got to go to Atlanta and speak at Morehouse College, the Medical College there, and show an episode. Ryan, it was a great episode with you with the guys out there playing basketball in a barber shop. It was great to bring that quirkiness in there, and they just really, really responded well to it. But any episode that sort of impacts my community, and any community, for that matter, is the one that’s memorable for me.
Question: …Your show this year, more so than many other shows, really leaned into the pandemic and showed all sides of it, and, you know, a lot of the sort of horror of it. Were you concerned at all about doing that? Because there’re some people that are looking at television as escapism right now, and they don’t want to see it, but I will tell you, I have heard from viewers that they really like it.
Ryan: Yeah, I think that’s a great question, and I think that was the question that David Schulner and Peter Horton were asking themselves and everyone who’s writing and making this show, you know, “How sick of it are people?” How much do they want to share that experience? I think, ultimately, our show is trying to tap into, you know, as Jocko was just saying, some of the realities of healthcare and some of the social issues that lead people to the hospital, some of the inequities, all these things. And I think, in an effort to keep the show honest, we had to reflect this experience that we’ve all been living through, and obviously the incredible hard work of our frontline workers, but the toll that it’s taken on them, on the patients, on the hospital system, on everyone. I think, ultimately, we’ve made a real effort to even find moments of humor and moments of joy and moments of lightness amidst that, because in any tragic, difficult situation, you have to. So, I think it’s about finding that balance, and, I think, at least when I watch it, as a viewer, I find myself appreciating sort of sharing that experience, relating to that experience of something that I’ve been through. You know, I, like everyone else, was in quarantine for months and months and months, wondering what the heck’s going on, and I even had this thing months and months ago. So, I think, ultimately, you got to be honest and try to try to relate that experience to everybody and connect in that way.
Question: Did it take a toll on you guys playing that role?
Jocko: For me, my character, he says in Episode One or Two of the season that he only experienced three deaths at his hospital in San Francisco, and much the same, I wasn’t a part of that opening montage. I haven’t dealt a whole lot with COVID, but kudos to the writers, to David Schulner and our wonderful writing staff, for number one, being able to have the foresight and the knowledge to know exactly where to put that needle. Because they wrote this so long ago, by the time we were airing, I mean, I think that we originally thought or planned that we would be airing sometime in October and November and it turned into March, so kudos to them for not hitting people over the head with a pandemic. Because we’re still dealing with so many different issues, as Ryan mentioned, and we have a lot more to cover as the season progresses.
Question: Did it change your your process as an actor? I mean, I know, there were a lot of precautions on set and that kind of thing, but I just wondered if any of this changed your process internally?
Ryan: I don’t know about you, Jocko. I don’t think it changed my process in terms of how I approach the material that the writers have written and interpret that and then try to tell that story, but it did make me ask questions of some of the folks on our set who are frontline workers, or talk to my sister who’s a nurse, or Eric manheimer, who our show is based on, just the real people who’ve really been doing it and just try to pay homage to that in a way that is authentic and fairly reflects that expat experience. So, I think there was an authenticity that – I don’t want to speak for Jocko, but that we all were aiming for and still are aiming for. And I think in terms of process, it just involves talking to the real folks and getting their real thoughts and their real experiences. Then, of course, I think incorporating our own experience with isolation, quarantine, the emotional toll, all that stuff, we’ve all been living that. So, that’s all there.
Question: And how about you Jocko?
Jocko: Much the same. I echo what he said on that. It didn’t much effect my approach. I was happy to be back and get back, and even in the fun moments, the light moments, I’m picturing the audience seeing these things, and I’m like, “I know it’s gonna lift a lot of people’s spirits out there.” So, [I’m] just excited to be back and doing what we do.
Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com
Dr. Max Goodwin, “New Amsterdam”
Eggold is also known to many for his role as Tom Keen on the NBC drama “The Blacklist.” His other television credits include the A&E miniseries “Sons of Liberty,” FX’s “Dirt” and HBO’s “Entourage.”
Eggold recently stepped behind the camera to write, direct, produce and compose the film “Literally Right Before Aaron,” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was originally based on Eggold’s award-winning 2011 short of the same name. The film follows a young man who attends the wedding of his ex-girlfriend. Cobie Smulders, Justin Long, John Cho and Kristen Schaal star.
On the big screen, Eggold played a supporting role in Spike Lee’s award-winning “BlacKKKlansman.” He can next be seen in Eliza Hittman’s new drama “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” which screened at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Other film credits include So Yong Kim’s “Lovesong,” opposite Riley Keough and Jena Malone; Gabriele Muccino’s “Fathers and Daughters,” opposite Amanda Seyfried and Aaron Paul; Tyler Perry’s “The Single Moms Club;” Megan Griffiths’ “Lucky Them,” opposite Toni Collette and Thomas Hayden Church; “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” with Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy; and Chris Lowell’s directorial debut “Beside Still Waters.”
On stage, Eggold starred in a revival of Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons,” opposite Alec Baldwin and Laurie Metcalf, at the John Drew Theater at Guild Hall in East Hampton, N.Y.
Born and raised in Southern California, Eggold is a graduate of USC’s theater program. When he’s not acting, he plays in his band as a musician and singer. He’s looking to turn his attention to writing and directing more content in the near future.
Dr. Floyd Reynolds, “New Amsterdam”
Sims is an actor, writer and producer with roles in numerous film and television projects, including “Dreamgirls,” “Jarhead” and 2014’s summer box office hit “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”
Sims’ first series was a lead role opposite Dennis Hopper in the Starz original series “Crash.” For five seasons he starred as Lt. Carlton Burk in the TNT network hit “The Last Ship.” Sims portrayed Robert Franklin during Showtime’s second season of “Masters of Sex” and he has recurred and/or guest-starred on several television series, including “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Franklin & Bash,” “Castle,” “NCIS,” “Burn Notice,” “CSI,” “Bones” and Showtime’s “I’m Dying Up Here.”
As a writer and producer, Sims is currently developing a comedy movie with producers Jamie Neese and Jason Neese (“Umbrella Academy” and “Dear White People”) and has various TV series in development as well. His hobbies include producing music and managing music artists, and he loves cooking as demonstrated on “Home and Family” and “The Steve Harvey Show.”
Originally hailing from Texas, Sims graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in theater. He currently resides in New York.
Medical director Dr. Max Goodwin is committed to solving systemic health care issues at the hospital. Add in the grieving of his wife’s death, his responsibilities as a single father and his cancer still lingering in the rear-view mirror, everyone around Max must wonder how long he can sustain this impossible load. But “How can I help?” is not just Max’s catchphrase, it’s his reason for living. As long as he’s helping others, Max is able to find hope in the most hopeless of places.
While navigating their own personal journeys – Sharpe’s career shifts, Bloom’s reuniting with her mother, Reynolds’ departure, Frome’s struggle with body image and Kapoor’s upcoming grandchild – the doctors also strive to play out Max’s “How can I help?” mantra.
“New Amsterdam” is inspired by Dr. Eric Manheimer’s memoir “Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital” and his 15 years as medical director at the hospital.
The cast includes Ryan Eggold, Janet Montgomery, Freema Agyeman and Jocko Sims, with Tyler Labine and Anupam Kher.
David Schulner and Peter Horton executive produce along with Michael Slovis, David Foster, Aaron Ginsburg and Shaun Cassidy. “New Amsterdam” is produced by Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, Pico Creek Productions and Mount Moriah.
Proofread and Edited by Brenda