Michelle Nolden dishes on Saving Hope’s Dawn and Zach

Saving Hope fans may be pleased as punch that Dr. Dawn Bell (Michelle Nolden) and Dr. Zachary Miller (Benjamin Ayres) are a couple, especially since Alex and Charlie have gone Splitsville. But don’t get too comfy with the twosome; executive producer and showrunner Adam Pettle and co-executive producers Noelle Carbone and Patrick Tarr revealed it won’t always be smooth sailing for the prickly twosome.

Ahead of Sunday’s new episode, “Midlife Crisis,” here is our interview from Michelle Nolden, done during a set visit last summer. She spoke about Dawn’s difficult past and her future, which includes a job shakeup.

Where is Dawn’s head at as we head into Season 5?
Michelle Nolden: Aside from beginning with the repercussions of the shooting, I think Dawn is in a happier place than she has probably ever been. From the time that she’s come on the show, it’s been a bit of a rough haul. It can’t be easy being at the same hospital as your ex-husband and see him be happy. I think she is in a well-deserved good place. And the relationship with Zach and Dawn, I’m really happy with the way the writers did it because it feels well-earned to me. They were friends first and are coming out of this needful, instead of needy, place.

It was pretty a pretty dramatic storyline she had last season with Lane [Shaun Benson] sexually assaulting Dawn. It was certainly a shocking storyline for fans; was it difficult to film those scenes?
I was happy with how murky it was. If things had gone a little bit differently, they may have gone home together, but because of a slight tonal shift, the idea of what is consensual and what isn’t shifted. I think it was really relevant in that way; the lines were a little grayer. That also gave Dawn a really natural way to play it, not really knowing what happened. What was that, and how much responsibility does she take for it?

Back to Dawn and Zach: does he bring out a softer side to her?
What’s fun is that it allows her to be harder too. I’ve never felt that Dawn was … well, sometimes she’s been bitchy and mean. [Laughs.] There have always been instances where you see that this is the way that she has been trained and it’s lonely at the top. Even if they invite her out for drinks it’s, ‘I’m your boss.’ When she lets her guard down it’s to a very trusted few. I think she really loves her doctors and she takes her job very seriously in protecting them and advocating for them. I love that there is a real professional side to her and a real private side to her.

What can you say about her job situation?
She’s not happy at not having her office. And, to be quite frank, when I as Michelle Nolden walked into my office I was like, ‘Why is he in my office?’ So, no, she’s not happy about it and is not going down without a fight.

Walking around the set, seeing Alex’s motorcycle and finding out about some of the guest stars this season, including Kristin Lehman, this season is a real shakeup.
That’s always one of the great joys of an ensemble cast. You get to spread it out and storylines because more fleshed out for the supporting characters, which is great. And, I think, we needed to go somewhere different with these characters. Sometimes you need to be apart to get together, and that’s what the fans want.

So many people have come up to me and said, ‘Please tell me that Dawn and Zach are not going to break up!’ People have really responded. And, I think, particularly for Zach and Dawn, who have been through so much they want there to be a happy relationship. While Alex and Charlie are apart, Zach and Dawn are together. To have everyone apart would be too much for the audience. But even within a happy relationship, and what Ben and I are really trying to play, is that they are a regular couple.

Saving Hope airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and owner of TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from hundreds of television series from Canada, the U.S. and internationally. He is a podcaster, public speaker, weekly radio guest and educator, and past member of the Television Critics Association.
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