[Photos: © 2009 NBC Universal, Inc.]
I was very happy to get the chance to participate in a conference call with two of the lead actors on the new NBC drama Mercy. Michelle Trachtenberg & Taylor Schilling sat down to answer some questions about the show and their careers. It was a fun interview and here’s what was discussed:
Q: I was wondering, Michelle, what you find challenging about your role?
Michelle Trachtenberg: I play Nurse Chloe Payne. She is basically a new nurse at Mercy. She’s fresh out of school. I think its probably more challenging to make sure that all of our medical situations are 100% accurate. We do have medical experts on set which is very helpful. Making sure that combining the medical challenges with the emotion is probably the biggest challenge and making sure it’s all on par and that we’re honoring real life nurses.
Q: Taylor, how has the chemistry grown between the characters since the show began and now?
Taylor Schilling: I think the more that we all get to know each other, the easier it is to work together and the more kind of fun it is. I think that that’s probably reflected in the characters’ relationships as well. You know, time is always a good thing; it’s always nice to have more time with the people you’re working with.
Q: Michelle, we remember you as an Buffy alumnus; how do you feel about the film being remade?
Michelle Trachtenberg: I haven’t heard too much about it but I think it’s great. I mean, there was a Buffy film already so I’m sure they’ll meet some challenges finding new things.
Q: Do you think they’ll do one for (Joss)’s version and would you want to be in it?
Michelle Trachtenberg: I have absolutely no idea what they’re planning but, you know, I feel like there was already a movie and the TV show is such a classic and such a staple in the hearts of real fans that, you know, it’s best to leave something that was great as it is so it’s probably not something I’d be involved with.
Q: Michelle, how has it been filming both Gossip Girl and Mercy?
Michelle Trachtenberg: It’s great. You know, it’s challenging in the sense that there are time constraints. But I definitely don’t get the characters confused as they’re night and day. I love Gossip Girl more than anything I’ve ever done. It’s a great, fun job and I have so much fun with all my friends. And Mercy is a great new experience, so I’m pretty lucky to be able to master both.
Q: Now how do you think Georgina would treat Chloe?
Michelle Trachtenberg: I don’t think Chloe would even come close to being in Georgina’s world so I don’t think it’d be something that we’d have to worry about unless Georgina was heading to the hospital. She’d probably find Chloe much too attentive and much too heartfelt.
Q: Taylor, Veronica has a really interesting back story; I just wanted to know what’s the best part of playing her for you?
Taylor Schilling: Oh that’s a great question. I think the most enjoyable part as an actor is how deeply I can go into Veronica’s world and her story because the writers have provided me with such a rich history for her. So there’s never a dull moment; even the most kind of banal scene has a lot going on.
Q: What was it like working with Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara?
Michelle Trachtenberg: Oh they’re great. It was amazing. They’re legends and it was really just an honor to be acting in scenes with them.
Q: Were they funny off camera?
Michelle Trachtenberg: Hilarious.
Q: This question is for both of you, I wanted to know why you guys think Mercy has been so successful with fans. There’s been a great buzz about it and why do you think that has happened?
Taylor Schilling: You know, our show is really about people’s relationships and trying to portray that as honestly as we can. And I think that people can relate to that. Between the three women and their relationships outside of our friendship I think there’s a lot of honesty there and it’s quite heartfelt. So, I think people can kind of tap into that.
Michelle Trachtenberg: Yes, I think women are looking at a show with three women. It’s kind of rare to have such strong female characters especially in network television where a lot of it is like a guy and a girl. I think probably a lot of women really relate to having three diverse characters and they can find things to relate to within each one.
Q: Michelle, you’ve had a lot of fans follow with you, starting out young and to this point have you noticed those same fans are with you still as you’ve grown up and, you know, been on these two new shows that might attract these same fans?
Michelle Trachtenberg: I mean I would hope that they follow me through the projects and of course I’m very grateful to them. I mean I have had people coming up to me that say, I’ve been a fan of yours since this or this or this. And it’s funny the projects they pull out.
So I don’t have specifically like this person came up to me and said I watched you here and now there. But it’s very flattering to know that obviously some people have followed me throughout my career. And I’m hoping that, you know, they appreciate Mercy as much as we all do.
Q: This question is for both of you, what character on the show would you like each of yours to interact with more?
Taylor Schilling: Oh that’s a great question.
Michelle Trachtenberg: You know, for me, I love the three women together. I think that’s really, really great and it’s the core of the show. It’s fun to have our doctors come in and here and there and I absolutely adore working with James Tupper and James LeGros.
But at the core of the show it’s really the three women and I think we’ve been doing that well. And there’s definitely going to be more of that.
Taylor Schilling: I’d actually have to agree with Michelle. I think that that dynamic between the three of us is really kind of the heart of the show. And I think it’s great that we can go off and have our sort of adventures and live our lives outside.
But it’s so important to stay grounded in the relationship; the relationship that these three women have and how they believe in each other and sort of process their lives together. I love that. I think we have a fantastic cast. Margo Martindale is remarkable and James LeGros and James Tupper and Diego Klattenhoff it’s a great group of people.
Q: Well we love that dynamic. Taylor, I know this is your first leading role on a TV show; are you comfortable watching yourself on screen with other people? I mean when you’re with other people?
Taylor Schilling: Like do I like to watch it in a group of people?
Q: Does it make you uncomfortable or is it okay for you?
Taylor Schilling: That’s a good question, that’s something I’m still trying to figure out. I don’t know. I can kind of watch it in bits and pieces. Michelle and I watched an episode like they showed it at lunch one day at work and it was easier to watch it with her there.
Michelle Trachtenberg: It’s the only episode I’ve seen actually. I don’t like to watch myself.
Taylor Schilling: Yes, I can’t. I don’t do it often.
Michelle Trachtenberg: I’m too critical.
Taylor Schilling: Yes.
Q: Michelle, Chloe is so new to everything; do you hope that as the season goes on she becomes tougher or do you enjoy the innocence and the reality of her insecurities now?
Michelle Trachtenberg: Chloe is a interesting dynamic because she is a 25 year old woman who did graduate top of her class so inherently I believe she is incredibly intelligent and I do believe she has a lot of experience in her life but sometimes she’s just a little cautious or scared to really go forth on things.
It’s definitely something that we are working on with Chloe. She is going to grow more confident as life – as you do in life. I mean, human beings experience things for the first time and they learn and then they move on. And Chloe will grow, you know, just as if anyone in real life would.
Q: For Taylor – I was wondering if you think Veronica’s relationship with Dr. Harris will be changing a lot or if after you’ve bonded over his wife’s death things will kind of go back to normal?
Taylor Schilling: You know, I think that Veronica and Dr. Harris actually have a lot in common even – and I think that sometimes those are the people you clash with the most, the ones that you sort of see yourself in but you don’t quite want to acknowledge that; it might not be the best parts of yourself. But I actually think that they’re quite a team. I think that there’s a really rich dynamic to explore because they are so opposite and so incredibly similar. So I think that that may have bonded them into a deeper relationship.
Q: Also for the upcoming episode with Elisabeth Moss guest starring they noted that it sounds like her character inspires Veronica to talk to Mike about her affair. I was just wondering what little bit you could tell us about that without any spoilers.
Taylor Schilling: Well I think it’s going to be pretty explosive. It’s going to be interesting to see – and it certainly is going to have an effect on everybody’s life.
Q: It seems like there are a lot of medical dramas now premiering that focus on nurses as opposed to doctors. And I wanted to know where you guys think you fall in the mix with these other shows and what makes your show stand out?
Michelle Trachtenberg: Oh yes. You know, I think in terms of Mercy we’re really focusing on the lives of the three women. Of course it’s a medical drama and all the medical stuff is at the forefront but there’s also really great look inside of our personal lives. And at the end of the day, even though there is a medical background it’s really about the lives of three women.
And I feel that people respond to that a lot. You know, people like hospital dramas but people like the growth of people. And that’s what I think that’s what we bring to the medical field in the world of television.
Taylor Schilling: Absolutely. Kind of what we about earlier it’s a show that’s set in a hospital but it’s really exactly what Michelle was saying that it’s really about these three women. So it’s set in a hospital but I think it’s really about watching these characters grow and develop.
Q: Taylor, I hope I’m correct in my research that you did one film with Meryl Streep and Aidan Quinn. And did you do another television show before this or is this the first thing you’ve done since that movie?
Taylor Schilling: No this is the first thing. I did that movie on a summer break from college – between college and graduate school and so this is my job since then, yes.
Q: What is it like to be the star of the show and sort of take the helm of this drama series after only having done one film under your belt?
Taylor Schilling: Well, you know, I think it’s a magnificent opportunity. And I’m surrounded by a really amazing cast and a really amazing crew. And a lot of people who are supporting me and, you know, giving me space to work and grow and learn on the job. And I think that it’s a really special project. I just enjoy going to work every day.
Q: I wanted to know what both of you felt about Trauma being cancelled? Like is that a good thing for Mercy or is that a bad thing?
Michelle Trachtenberg: Oh I had no idea.
Taylor Schilling: Is that a good thing or a bad thing for our show? I don’t know, I think that we can only stay focused on kind of telling the story of Mercy and telling the story of these women. I’m actually not following what’s going on with Trauma or other shows at all. I’m just going to work to shoot our television show. So I don’t know, Michelle, do you think – how do you think that that effects us?
Michelle Trachtenberg: I think it’s really gross to have any actor celebrate the demise of any other actor’s show because…
Taylor Schilling: Yes.
Michelle Trachtenberg: …especially in this age we’re all very lucky to be working. So I had absolutely no idea it was cancelled but I would never be happy. I would never, think of oh how is this going to affect my show because I’m just happy to be working and it doesn’t even sort of fall into my realm.
Q: Have people started to approach you guys and ask for medical advice as though you were real nurses and not actresses?
Taylor Schilling: That hasn’t happened to me yet. Has that happened to you Michelle?
Michelle Trachtenberg: No, it hasn’t but that’ll be really hilarious. I’d be like I have no idea. Go see a real nurse – I’m not really a nurse, I just play one on TV.
Q: I wanted to know if either one of you were on any social networking sites like Twitter or Facebook and do you think that it helps at all keep the focus on your different projects, you know, as far as getting the word out there, kind of like a blue grass kind of, straight to the people kind of thing?
Michelle Trachtenberg: I would actually like to jump start this one. I am not on Facebook. I am not on Twitter. There are a million fakes and it super pisses me off as some of my friends start to believe them like “hey I’m following you on Twitter.” It’s like “dude I’m really not on Twitter.” I’m so not computer-advanced. I barely just got a laptop this year. I wouldn’t even know how to start.
I pretty much only know how to use my Blackberry and that’s a miracle within itself. So please feel free to broadcast that everywhere. Facebook and Twitter, it’s not me, it’s some crazy person. And don’t pay attention to them. There you go, that’s my campaign.
Taylor Schilling: There you go. I’m actually not on either of those sites. I can’t really figure it out to be honest. So I don’t know maybe someday I’ll have someone give me a tutorial and sort of get into it. You know, more power to Facebook and Twitter. I just have not figured it out. I have not cracked the code yet.
Q: Do you know anybody who does use them that are like in the business?
Taylor Schilling: Yes, a lot of actors are on Facebook and things like that.
Michelle Trachtenberg: My friends that are in the music business I think use it for to let them know about albums and that’s great but that’s about it. Like I said it’s a miracle I have a laptop. I know how to go onto urbanoutfitters.com and place my online shopping order.