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Rush; starring Tom Ellis, Larenz Tate (USA)

Image Credit: Alan Zenuk/USA Network

EP Jonathan Levine talks 'Rush' premiere, confesses Harry Hamlin love

Will Rush is a hot mess. The lead character of executive producer Jonathan Levine’s new series Rush is a Harvard-trained surgeon who lost his status in the traditional medical community and has taken his practice underground in Los Angeles, treating elite clients who can pay the high fees for his skills and his discretion. Tom Ellis—well known to U.K. audiences for his work on shows like Miranda, Gates and The Fades—stars in the USA show, which explores the trouble a handsome young doctor operating on the fringes of the rich and famous can get up to. Drugs? Criminal behavior? Women? Yes, yes and oh, yes.

Fortunately, friends like Dr. Alex Burke (Larenz Tate) and Will’s assistant Eve Parker (Sarah Habel) prevent the centrifugal force of his decadent lifestyle from casting Will into L.A.’s darkest heart.

Jonathan Levine on the set of 50/50 (photo: Seth Rogen)Writer-director Levine previously charmed critics and audiences with films like coming-of-age drug tale The Wackness, 2008’s Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winner; cancer comedy 50/50, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen; and zombie love story Warm Bodies, with Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer.

In a recent chat, Levine explained what appeals to him about such a flawed character, bad pop music as creative inspiration/lifestyle choice, and his love of actor Harry Hamlin, who appears in the series as Rush’s father.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY COMMUNITY: Can you tell me a little about the genesis of this story and the character of Will Rush?
JONATHAN LEVINE: My fellow executive producers had heard about this urban legend of a doctor in Los Angeles who did this type of thing. After they saw The Wackness, they came to me, knowing I had an interest in dysfunctional characters, and I just kind of really sparked to the idea. I remember writing it for the first time and really falling in love with this guy’s voice.

Tom Ellis as Dr. William Rush (Alan Zenuk/USA Network)How did you find Tom Ellis and get him to be that voice—to be Will Rush?
Tom was kind of the result of a very long and arduous casting process. We had been searching in L.A., and we had set the bar pretty high for the actor, because we felt the role was strong. We needed someone who was smart, who could convey the hyperintelligence of the character, who could get the rhythm of the dialogue, who could act like an asshole, but be kinda funny and who could also have that hint of pain and hint of melancholy behind his eyes. I think it’s very important that you see that this guy wishes he was a better person. I think that’s key to wanting to go on the ride with him.

Basically, we were out scouting locations, but deep down, I was like, This thing’s never going to happen—we don’t have the guy. We expanded our search to the United Kingdom, and Tom came in—I saw him on tape—and it was just kind of miraculous; we just knew it was him. And then I saw some of his work and watched some of his work in the U.K. on his reel, and I could just see that he had everything that we were looking for, and is a really good dude to boot.

When you audition U.K. actors for an American role, you have to ask them to do the accent, obviously.
Yeah, we did. British actors are so impeccably trained that—I’m not going to say it’s easy, but he, in particular, was kind of amazing with it. He had been doing this play in London, and he had been playing an American, and his accent was just impeccable. He stayed in it on set every day, and we didn’t have to ADR a single line. (See video of Ellis discussing the accent.)

Here you’ve got Will Rush, who’s flawed and, at the same time, elegant and conflicted about his overall person. Certainly in the episodes to come, you’re going to explore why he is the way he is and why he keeps making these bad choices. Can you talk a little bit about what’s to come for him in that way?
The first season, we will explore both what made him this way and the challenges to come from his sort of newfound realization that he actually, deep down, does care. The first season will be him negotiating that, and him negotiating how he deals with all the various worlds in which he walks, whether it be gangsters or Hollywood producers or rappers or actors or … It’s just such fertile ground, L.A., because basically he can see anyone with enough money and a secret. Those cases and the way they sort of fold in on each other and the way they sort of amp up for him is a very, very big part of his journey, but also a big part of his journey is learning how he became this way.

I want to come back to why he is the way he is, but first, can you please explain his musical tastes to me?
All right, this is actually something that I have in common with him: He’s a guy who likes pop culture, and he’s a guy who likes songs that you can sing along with. He’s not a guy who’s going to listen to entire albums. He just likes singles. And he’s not a guy who’s that attuned to technology, in spite of the fact that he’s an incredibly intelligent doctor. To him, life is like a pop song, and if he could just sing along and put the roof down on his Mercedes and just blast some Debbie Gibson—that is where he’s happiest. The explanation for it—there’s nothing so deep there, except that it’s not something I’d seen before. I have a lot of friends with bad taste in music—some might say that I have bad taste in music. I’d just never seen it before on television, and I thought it would be immensely funny if this guy just kind of had that. And I think it makes sense for his character, because all he cares about is the high points, and a good pop song is just kind of all high points. Even a bad pop song is that. That’s sort of it. It’s a little dangerous, because you have to clear all these ’80s songs, but I think it’s worth it for the kind of character—the little flourish that it gives you.

I used to drive a convertible around L.A. a lot. My convertible was not as nice as his; I drove a 1992 Volkswagen Cabriolet convertible with like a dented door. I just remember, you get out to Los Angeles—I’m from New York—you feel like you’re in some weird ’80s music video. Sometimes. So for me, that kind of Los Angeles—like the Los Angeles of Beverly Hills Cop or American Gigolo—that was kind of a big influence for the world of this show.

Could we talk a little bit about the characters around Will: Dr. Alex Burke and Will’s assistant, Eve Parker?
Rush: Larenz Tate as Alex (Gavin Bond/USA Network)Larenz, who plays Alex, is a wonderful actor who I’ve loved since Menace II Society. This character is the one I identify with—a lot of my friends are like him. And even though I like to pretend I’m Will Rush, I think I’m a lot more like Alex. He’s a guy who went to medical school with Rush, and basically chose the opposite path: He works in a hospital. Rush works on the fringes of medicine. [Alex] has a strong family. Rush is sleeping with a different woman every night. And [Alex] has a strong moral code, and as we know, Rush’s moral code is a very slippery slope—even though he rigidly adheres to it, he can morally justify just about anything. I think it’s really funny where these guys sort of meet in the middle. Alex likes to live vicariously through Rush. Rush kind of needs Alex to be the good dude, so that Rush knows how he should behave. I think it’s just a really cool friendship, and the two of them together—their chemistry is pretty great. For me, it’s an opportunity to explore a friendship of people who went in different directions and how they keep the tension between them and the push-and-pull between them.

Rush: Sarah Habel as Eve, Tom Ellis as Dr. William Rush (Gavin Bond/USA Network)Eve is kind of Rush’s gal Friday. She’s incredibly smart. She is incredibly clever, and she also is sort of the angel on Rush’s shoulder. She’s always pushing him to live a healthier lifestyle and a more morally upstanding lifestyle. Their relationship, to me, is really the core one of the show. When Sarah came in, she was just so funny. I give people the opportunity to mess with the lines as much as they want, and she was just ad-libbing in such great ways. To me, it’s sort of the modern version of Moneypenny. It’s a really, really fun relationship to explore. Their moral differences definitely kind of put them diametrically opposed in a lot of ways, but the compromises each of them makes, I find to be really interesting throughout the course of the season. Eve’s backstory, which is hinted at in the pilot, is something that comes back later and creates a lot of problems for both her and Rush.

In the show description, there was mention of Warren Rush, Will’s father. With Harry Hamlin playing him, I expect we’ll see a lot of him—maybe?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, my first real television-watching experience was when I watched L.A. Law, like at 10 o’clock, Thursday nights with my parents. They would let me stay up late. And then I saw Harry Hamlin in Mad Men. And Carrie Audino, who is our casting director, also cast Mad Men, and I was like, “Is there any chance we could get Harry Hamlin? Because I loooove Harry Hamlin.” That is sort of a real dream for me. So, yes, we will see him frequently. He is a big part of both Rush’s past and the issues he’s confronting in his present. It’s just really cool that we got him.

I can’t wait for his introduction—because my love of Harry Hamlin goes back to the original Clash of the Titans.
Yeah, yeah—I didn’t want to date myself, but, of course, Clash of the Titans.

You can love Clash of the Titans and not date yourself—necessarily.
It’s true. I think it was already ironic when I was loving it when I was 12. I love that movie. I had that movie on VHS that I taped off the TV and would rewind it so much that it would get warped when certain scenes came on: when he kills Medusa—so cool. What’s that little owl’s name?

Clash of the Titans: Harry Hamlin with Bubo (Everett Collection)Wasn’t it Bubo? Or something?
Hold on, I’m looking at it now. “Owl in Clash of the Titans name” is—Bubo. Did you say “Bubo”?

I did say “Bubo.”
You are correct.

Because I am a Clash of the Titans nerd.
I wonder if he has that owl? Wouldn’t that be cool? It’s really cool-looking. Someone does have that—sorry, now I’m distracted, Googling this talking owl. What else do you want to talk about?

Harry Hamlin—can you say which episode we’ll see him in or no? Is it a surprise?
He’s in the third episode … And he’s cool.

I know he’s cool. I’m sold. I saw his name, and I was excited.

I have a theory about how Will fits in with some of the previous lead characters that you’ve created. Could you maybe talk about a through-line for them—how they are what they are?
I certainly think that he has a little bit in common with the people in The Wackness, as far as people who are trying to self-medicate to not deal with things to get by and not feel. It’s interesting: I never really thought about it. I don’t know: Does he have anything in common with 50/50 guys? Maybe with Joe’s character, who’s always insisting that he’s OK and is kind of playing things off, but deep down really needs other people. God, what could he have in common with a zombie? I don’t know. You said you have a theory?

Warm bodies: Teresa Palmer, Nicholas Hoult (Jan Thijs)At first I thought he doesn’t have anything in common with them, and that makes him so different. But then I was like, Wait a minute: Adam had cancer. R was a zombie, so he had a disease—of a sort.
Oh! Oh my God, maybe I’m obsessed with medicine! Maybe I should’ve been a doctor. My mom would’ve been really psyched, actually. I guess that’s true. Certainly with R, yeah. Not only that, it was sort of a metaphor for not feeling. A lot of it is about feeling versus not feeling, and a lot of what Rush is for me is about how this is a guy who found it too difficult to feel when he was working within the traditional medical profession. When he was a doctor, prior to our pilot, he had such a hard time feeling that he just said, “You know, fuck it, I’m just going to treat people who I don’t care about,” because for him, he found it too difficult to feel, and I think that that is definitely a theme in Warm Bodies as well.

I just sort of made that up, but I think it’s maybe true.

I’m with you. What I thought was: You could look at his chemical dependence as a sort of disease—having something thrust upon you, something in your gut making you do bad things. It became a question of whether his addictions were actually a disease or just part of his bad choices.
To be honest, I don’t fall one way or another on that. I think that’s sort of what the show is exploring. I think it is exploring the nature of addiction. This is a guy who’s not just addicted to drugs; he’s addicted to adrenaline, he’s addicted to a lifestyle. For me, that’s kind of an interesting thing to explore. For me, it’s always more interesting to look at things when you don’t really have a horse in the race, so to speak. The show doesn’t have any agenda. It certainly doesn’t presume to judge anyone. I think that allows us to walk that nice line of looking at something in a sophisticated way, while at the same time to not have to use kid gloves with it, you know?

What are some of the other projects you’re working on? How busy are you?
I’m actually in New York prepping a movie. It’s a Christmas party-movie about three friends who have historically gone out on Christmas. This is one Christmas when they’re each at a crisis in their lives. 50/50: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen (Chris Helcermanas-Benge)It’s a hard-R Christmas comedy with Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt—the 50/50 guys—and Anthony Mackie and some other really, really cool people who will be announced soon. I’m incredibly excited about it. We’re going to start shooting in a month, so it’s going to be really hot, but—for me to reteam with those guys is just super-cool.

Sounds like something to look forward to.
Yes! Christmas 2015. December something. So you won’t have to look for it for a while—but it’s going to be great.

We’ll keep busy watching Rush.
Please do. That would be really nice.

Rush premieres Thursday, July 17, at 9/8C on USA. Come back that afternoon for my interview with star Tom Ellis.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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