Saving Hope’s Erica Durance: “It’s mayhem at the hospital”

Spoiler warning: Do not read this article until you have watched Saving Hope Episode 501, “Doctor Dustiny.”

Well, Saving Hope fans, what’s your reaction to Sunday’s Season 5 return? What started out wonderfully—Charlie (Michael Shanks) proposed to Alex (Erica Durance)—crashed and burned by the end, with her giving the ring back and walking away. Fans may not be happy about that story angle, but Durance couldn’t be more thrilled. As an actor, she relishes a challenge and Alex’s change of heart is exactly that.

We spoke to Durance over the phone; she gave us some exclusive scoop into what Alex does next, the effect Dr. Manny (Jarod Joseph)—and characters played by Greg Bryk and Missy Peregrym—have on Alex’s life, and how she can operate on you if the situation called for it.

This first episode of Season 5, “Doctor Dustiny,” certainly begins dramatically. Charlie was shot by Crenshaw, Crenshaw is dead and then Charlie proposes to Alex.
Erica Durance: I know. We thought we’d hit all of the most important things at the get-go and get fans excited. It just sets our show off at a faster pace. We have a lot of story to tell and only 17 episodes after the first one to tell them.

So, Charlie proposes—something the fans have wanted since Season 1—but by the end of the episode Alex is giving him his ring back. What was your reaction reading that in the first script?
Oh, I laughed. I thought it was fantastic. I love it when they surprise me. I’m one of those actors who like the twists and turns and the unpredictable and the challenge of starting in one specific place and by the end of it, she’s giving his ring back. How am I going to get to that point emotionally? I like the challenge of it and it gives the audience a glimpse into what’s to come in the rest of the season. This character goes on this final little journey. It’s mayhem at the hospital.

The writers told me it’s fun to have Alex and Charlie together for a bit, but then it gets boring. That roller coaster must be a lot more fun than being cuddly and happy all the time.
Exactly. I said, ‘Listen, if you put us together and have us play board games, I’m going to lose my mind.’ I don’t like drama in my real life, but I want pretend drama. I want conflict and I want my character to be unpredictable and get to go on that journey.

During my set visit, I was shown a motorcycle. Apparently, it’s Alex’s motorcycle. Is that true?
Yes, sir.

Do you ride it?
Alex rides a little bit, but not much because, by that point, I had let everyone know I was pregnant. I wanted to ride, but no one would let me ride! Slightly outside of her form, which is what’s fun about it, is that she decides to take that on because it’s something she’s always wanted to do. Because of the decision, she’s made with Charlie, she’s exploring some avenues. She’s always been the good girl and has always done the right thing. She’s tempting fate a little bit.

Being able to play another layer of Alex must be exciting.
It’s funny because you’ll have some actors on-set that don’t want a whole lot of conflict and want everything explained perfectly. I don’t want everything explained, I want it to be messy because that’s what we’re like in real life. I would get into these little debates with people at work. It doesn’t have to make sense because, often, we don’t make sense as people. We run off of emotion and do dramatically different things than we say we’re going to do.

Does Alex get a tattoo? A piercing? How far does she go?
Oh god, I pitched it! You’ll just have to watch and see! [Laughs.] If they had taken on what I wanted to do, it would have been very different. I don’t know what people would have thought of Alex but I would have had a great time.

Let’s talk about a few new characters this season. How does the new CEO, played by Joe Dinicol, affect day-to-day life at Hope Zion?
He interacts mainly with Dawn [Michelle Nolden], who goes head-to-head with him. It’s very interesting because she’s always used to having power and this upstart comes in and kind of takes over. He is in there to cut costs and fix things and creates a lot of chaos. People lose their jobs and he starts to hit on one of the doctors there.

What can you say about Alex and Dr. Manny, played by Jarod Joseph? We saw him briefly on Sunday night.
Manny is a character that makes Alex laugh and she has a lot of fun with him. He is a different kind of dynamic for her, so I think the audience will really love to see unfold and where it ends up going for her.

There are several guest stars this season. What can you tell me about Greg Bryk’s character?
That was a completely different kind of storyline for us. It was a little bit of a departure because he brought a little more danger to the episode and to Alex. She has to track this guy down and he’s in the witness protection program, and she has to try and convince him to save his son. Again, danger, and some comedy and a heartrending story. Greg is such a lovely actor.

What about Missy Peregrym? Anything you can tell us about her character?
Missy and I worked on a couple of episodes together and she challenges Alex in a completely different way. It was like working with a sister, we had this wonderful banter and had this sarcastic back and forth that I’ve never had before.

What will you miss about Saving Hope?
I’ll desperately, desperately miss my cast and crew, the people who worked with me on a day-to-day basis. They made me laugh so much. I’m actually going to miss all of the medical stuff that we learned. Our medical consultant, Bryce Taylor, he was a chief of surgery, and he’s in there working with us and teaching me how to suture. I was always learning something every week.

If there was a medical emergency and someone needed a stitch or two, could you do it?
Yes! I’ve learned enough to cut you open without cutting any vitals and take things out. I don’t know if I can replace anything, but I can stitch you back up!

Saving Hope airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT 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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One thought on “Saving Hope’s Erica Durance: “It’s mayhem at the hospital””

  1. Knew this was coming when Alex made that promise at the end of last season. No TV hospital drama romance is ever smooth sailing, so we can’t expect that from Charlie and Alex, especially considering their circumstances. I’m siding with Charlie though, look at the real, physical signs. Alex shouldn’t live her life in fear.

    Good start to the season, I know it’s going to be a good one.

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