The Night Shift – Jill Flint and Brendan Fehr
By: Lisa Steinberg
Q) Jill, you might have done this before for “Royal Pains.” But I am curious did either of you kind of research you know medical things or maybe shadow any ER doctors or anything like that when you started the show?
Jill Flint: Well I spent a lot of time on YouTube. And I have a weird obsession with medical shows to begin with. Watching things like Trauma, Life in the ER kind of assisted me in a weird way. But it was very much for me personally a crash course in medicine because I booked the show three days before I started working on it. And it required a lot of catching up to do. But I have always had a fascination and an interest in the medical field. So it really I felt like maybe a duck in water. So yes, but YouTube is always a very good tool going forward with medical procedures.
Brendan Fehr: Yes I mean I had – I am the same with Jill. YouTube, Life in the ER and shows like that. I actually focused more of my research on army medics. Because in terms of the patients who are dealing with things we have to say, that is going to be out in the script. And so I would look up what I was saying and what I was doing. But I mean I just think as an actor I wanted – you kind of want to get more into the emotional part of the character or where he is coming from or what he or she would be thinking. So I kind of focused more of my stuff on army medics and kind of what their attitudes were and how they had gone about their business and what kind of a mind frame it took or takes to do that. So my research is more along those lines early on.
Q) If you get picked up for another season are there any storylines like you thought that you want to explore?
Brendan Fehr: Yes I have been asked that question a number – quite a number of times lately. And my answer is that the writers have done so well by me that it is one of those where I (unintelligible) it is almost fun for me to kind of wait. It is almost like Christmas time. Where instead of going into the closet looking. I would rather wait for that first rip and kind of see where they take me. And then once I see the start of that journey then kind of asking where I go and where it ends up so I can start, you know, creating something for the character that is going to make sense. But I haven’t thrown anything – I haven’t had any ideas that have stuck out with me. The adoption one about Brianna mentioned in Season 2 just kind of – one of the writers that had that same question had put a little thought into it and had mentioned something about adoption. And that ended up kind of coming to fruition and that was one of my favorite storylines. So I don’t know maybe I should be thinking about it a little more. Because they seem to take our advice pretty well sometimes.
Jill Flint: I am kind of along the same lines as Brendan. You know it is a lot of fun to see what they come up with. I would say that you know Jordan has always been a career motivated woman and I respect that about her. But I kind of wish she could be single for a while. You know so that if, you know, a romance actually happens it is earned. I don’t know. Just to see what Jordan could really dive herself into so you know she doesn’t always has to be with a man. That would be great. But other than that I am pretty game for whatever they are throwing down on my plate.
Q) Well you know just I will give each of you guys a question each and then the last one for both of you. But you know for Jill I think the biggest thing I am curious about is what has this been like for you to take Jordan on this sort of path of leadership this season where she stepped up more and she has become more of the voice of the hospital. She is the person who other people go to. I mean has that been transformative or interesting for you in any way?
Jill Flint: It is interesting for me in the sense that me personally as a person I don’t see myself as the natural leader who jumps in charge to take over something. So you know it has been fun journey to navigate with her. And I like the fact that I can step into the shoes of this woman who just isn’t afraid to go for it. Yes I like to see a woman in charge. I like to see a woman stand up and take over and do what needs to be done to save what she believes in. To, you know, keep things together. I admire that in her.
Q) So Brendan in terms of the Drew/Rick relationship. Obviously we have learned now that Rick is very interested in expanding his family with Drew. So is that story going to come to a head in the finale in some way?
Brendan Fehr: We certainly addressed it. We don’t wrap it up in a nice box and put a bow on it. But we do come to – me and Rick do have a conversation about it. And then we move forward from there. So that was a lot of fun. But there is still a question regarding how that is all going to turn out.
Q) What sort of cliffhanger are we looking at here? Are people going to feel okay at the end of this episode? Or are people going to scream at the TV wondering if there is a Season 5? What are your predictions?
Jill Flint: You mean you want to know if every single one of our lives are imperiled by the end of this episode?
Brendan Fehr: Pretty much.
Jill Flint: I believe at the end of this episode you see everyone in a new direction. And I don’t know I think there are a few things that will happen that will make the fans – I wouldn’t say it is warm and fuzzy. I think it is a beautiful ending but I think it is something that we will definitely – I think the fans will be happy. That is all I am going to give you.
Brendan Fehr: Yes I think it is one where you know throughout the four seasons all of the characters have certainly come into their own at various paces and in regards to various things. But I think at the end of this one everyone takes an additional step towards doing or becoming or shedding something that has been kind of bringing them down or weighing on their mind at some point. And so I think there is – you see a lot of characters taking some chances that they probably have been thinking about for a long time and how those end up is up in the air. But you see them taking a few more steps forward which I think is interesting.
Q) How else would you preview Thursday’s season finale?
Jill Flint: How else would we preview Thursday’s season finale?
Q) If you were going to tell someone what the episode is about you would be like…
Jill Flint: I think Brendan just handled that question.
Brendan Fehr: I had explained about the characters kind of taking another step forward. The hospital does as well. I think that is where we have a preview like in terms of us getting more immersed in the VA and becoming this hospital that specializes in training nurses and doctors in military and medical – the military procedures that you would see out on the battlefield. Being able to you know in situations which arise on the show a lot which are a little more unusual than those. Being able to handle those the intensity, the pressure. And I think the whole hospital, you know, we take a turn and trying to turn it into something unique and one of a kind. And I think that then kind of leads into the characters’ stories as well in terms of taking a big step forward into the unknown but something that you see that has potential. The risk/reward type of episode I feel that involves everyone in the cast as a whole and then everyone individually as well.
Jill Flint: Yes I really couldn’t have said it better than he did. It is true you see everyone is taking a chance. Everyone is taking a chance. Everyone is going after something that they have wanted or starting a new chapter. So it does leave – it leaves it open for more story for sure.
Q) Now what type of fan reaction have you gotten? Because your show tackles so many important things. You know you have the medicine. You also tape in Texas. And then you also deal with the military. And like Jill your speech a few weeks ago or I think it was last week where you told (TC) like I might not have served physically…
Jill Flint: Right.
Q) But I have been by the phone and all that was absolutely incredible. What type of fan reaction are you all getting?
Jill Flint: Well I mean there are some people that didn’t – I don’t that they fully understood exactly what Jordan was trying to say. But there is a truth to the family members that are left behind that have to – they spend every day waiting to hear about their loved ones. And that in and of itself is a service. Is a service. I mean it is not – yes we are not strapping on a uniform but we are praying and missing and loving someone in that uniform. So you know there is – that scene is actually one scene that I am incredibly proud of. And some of the things that, you know, that Jordan had to say was for me personally somewhat difficult to say. Especially, you know, some of the things that Brendan or Drew’s character had to say to me concerning stolen valor. Because you know it is not something I think that should be taken lightly. But yes for the most part I got really positive, positive feedback from what I could tell that everyone – you know there is a lot of men and women who respected that we gave them that voice. The people that stay home and wait for their family members to return. We gave them that voice and they were grateful for that.
Q) But I also mean like in general what type of preaction? Because I know like Brendan also your character, you know, Rick came out to his family and had other people come out and all of that. You know I mean it is just incredible both of your roles on the show.
Brendan Fehr: Yes I mean the reaction has been the majority of it has been positive. People, you know, that continue to watch the show like it for some reason. Whether it is storyline, characters or the relationships. You know they find there is something there that keeps them coming back week after week and that changes from person to person.
Jill Flint: But there are so many of us and the cast is so diverse right?
Brendan Fehr: Exactly. There are so many storylines to follow that you can not be interested in one and really gravitate towards another. So there is a lot there for everybody and you know it is interesting to hear what attracts certain people to the show. You know oh here is the military aspect. Over here it is the operations and the hospital kind of procedural aspect of it. You know I get a lot of, you know, it helped them come out or come to terms with you know being gay or lesbian and how that affected them. Or it reminded them of how it was for them to come out. And so there are just so many kinds of angles that you can come out of the show from. And that we try to come at the audience from that it is a little bit different for everybody. But for the most part it has been overwhelmingly positive. You are always going to have your critics and people who don’t like certain things. But that goes for every – you know I mean just that comes with the territory. But for the most part I have got nothing but positive feedback from people. You know that is obviously encouraging.
Jill Flint: I get a lot of young women. I was going to say I get a lot of young women that reach out to me on Twitter that it inspires them to see a woman in charge of ER. And it inspires them to see a woman you know being an ER doctor. And so it is kind of – that to me is a very – it is a wonderful thing when I have like a seven year old girl say that I am thinking about going to med school because of your character. I really appreciate that.
Q) Is there any like way that you would react differently than a doctor to certain situations? Are you trained to act a certain way? If you could talk a little bit about that.
Brendan Fehr: I mean me personally have I changed how I would address a situation in real life and are they different between the two? Is that what you are asking me?
Q) Or basically how Drew would react to a situation. Different than a doctor who hasn’t had military training.
Brendan Fehr: Yes I mean I think your first instinct is – I mean having both is really you know he is going to – it all depends on what is at his disposal. I think if he is in the confines of a hospital there are going to be that instinct to use all those tools that are at your disposal. And so there are procedures to follow, there are certain steps that you can take that have been proven and you know and will work. I think where the military training comes in medically is when it is a little bit unusual. When the norms or the normal operating procedure isn’t working. Or when you don’t have or you do lack equipment. There is a sense of most medics you are just trying to keep them alive you are not trying to fix them. You are trying to keep them alive so that you can get them to a place where you can fix them. So a medic is certainly different than a military doctor because a doctor will be in like the FOB or they will be in some tent. You know somewhere the medics and everybody else will be bringing in the injured and the wounded. And then they have the tools to deal with it in a medical way in terms of what we think is more normal. And so there is that instinct of what we do to keep them alive first and then you know how do we fix them later? But I think it is similar since he has got more tools in his tool belt if things are a little bit unusual.
Q) And then I know you guys do a lot of things outside of the hospital as well as inside. And with scenes outside are there any challenges to shooting those? Is it pretty much routine by now since you are in pretty much, you know, Season 4 or Season 3.
Jill Flint: The weather, the weather, the weather. You know at night it is freezing because it is the desert right? We are shooting in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Or during the day you know you are wearing tons of gear and it is 100 degrees. So that is the worst of it. Otherwise Albuquerque, New Mexico has been really cooperative. And you know I don’t mind getting out of the hospital and going on vacation to be honest with you.
Brendan Fehr: Yes I think it is one of those things that makes it fun for us as actors to be part of a show is it is fun for the viewers is to be stuck in a hospital or a trauma room where there is certain – there is a need for it and we find a way to step up the drama, the humor, the drama, the humor in that regard. Getting out of the hospital just opens us up to being able to tell different stories and then to peel back layers of the characters through those stories. And it just gives us more opportunity to kind of have the show – put it out there on a bigger level on kind of a grander scale. That is more fun to watch and it opens up storylines for us.
Q) You guys recently had an episode that featured, you know, real life military vets in acting roles and behind the scenes. Can you talk a little bit about what that experience was like having the real life personnel there?
Brendan Fehr: I think for me it was a real honor. You know for four seasons we have been pushing the military aspect. We thought that that’s what made our show a little different than others. We thought that is what could make our show a little better than others. It is something that we really enjoyed doing and you know we are always – you know we were honoring our military men and women through that. But it was finally to be able to get the opportunity to do that in a much more direct way or in kind of a much more obvious way was a great honor. And it was something that you know we all took a lot of pride in being able to do. Because you could sit there and you could talk the talk and you can put on the – or they are real uniforms. But you could pretend to be a soldier and you can pretend to tell these stories about that and we are doing all those things. But you know I think there comes a point where if it means that much to you, you have got to find a way to directly affect them. You can do it indirectly in so many ways but when you are able to have a more direct route to telling those stories and involving those men and women that is always a lot of fun and something that we should all try to do. You know we like – not charity but we don’t always donate. We like to talk about certain groups but we don’t always volunteer. And so when you are able to kind of you know put those boots on the ground and be able to actually really do something about it. That is when I think it means something and that was a special episode for all of us I think.
Q) I was wondering if Annie’s death or presumed death I should say is going to be addressed?
Brendan Fehr: TC did address it in the last episode. Saying he has got a private investigator on it.
Jill Flint: People are so impatient. They want answers immediately.
Brendan Fehr: Yes.
Jill Flint: Yes.
Q) I mean is there going to be like follow up in the finale? Or are we going to have to wait?
Jill Flint: Be patient.
Brendan Fehr: Yes we do – it is again addressed somewhat in the finale but it is certainly not – it doesn’t come to a conclusion. There is no – I am not sure there is the kind of closure that the audience will be looking for at this point. We have got to keep you guys coming back so we (unintelligible) NBC to pick us up for a Season 5.
Q) If you do hopefully get a next season is there any like guest stars that you guys really love to have on the show that you haven’t?
Jill Flint: Oh. You know it was kind of great was working with Gabe and Jeff. They always bring the greatest people on the show. I mean everyone we have had as a guest star on our show with their energy, their talent has always been a really great experience. So I don’t know that is kind of a – what about – Brendan do you have anybody in particular you would love to see on our show?
Brendan Fehr: I mean the list is – I mean where do you start? I mean you can start it like Meryl Streep and then you can go all way down to, you know…
Jill Flint: I heard Daniel Day Lewis quit acting.
Brendan Fehr: Right. You know I mean there is – yes it is one of those that is so wide open. But Jill is right. I mean we have been lucky with guest stars. We have had some great ones. You know I look forward to kind of working with you know Kyla and Luke coming back. I love the fact that there is a history there with me that we could still play off of. It is not something that is brand new but it hasn’t totally been explored yet. So I am open if we get a Season 5. You know I anticipate we will be back. Working with Jennifer Beals was a lot of fun as well. (Mack) was obviously – (Mack Brent)…
Jill Flint: Oh (Mack).
Brendan Fehr: One of my favorites but he is not coming back.
Jill Flint: I don’t forgive them for killing of (Mack Brent). I will be honest with you I do not forgive them for that.