Step Inside the World of New Amsterdam the New Hospital Drama With Great Heart and Humanity
The riveting new fall television drama New Amsterdam is a stellar team effort. As such, because of that attention to detail, it often resembles the actual practice of medicine.
Making its much-anticipated series debut on NBC on Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 10 p.m. [ET] right after the season premiere of This Is US, the show goes beyond the typical hospital drama in the way that it brings a great humanity – laughter and tears – to these compelling ripped-from-the-headlines stories.
New Amsterdam, a one-hour drama, was inspired by Dr. Eric Manheimer’s bestselling memoir, Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital, and his 15 years as medical director at the unique New York hospital.
The dashing 34-year-old Ryan Eggold (Blacklist), plays the brilliant and charming Dr. Max Goodwin, the hospital’s newest medical director, who sets out to tear up the bureaucracy and provide exceptional care.
The good doctor’s question to his doctors, nurses, and patients is, “How can we help?” And he clearly wants to know how their treatment and patient interaction can be more humane.
Not taking “no” for an answer, Dr. Goodwin must disrupt the status quo and prove he will stop at nothing to breathe new life into this understaffed, underfunded and underappreciated hospital — the only one in the world capable of treating Ebola patients, prisoners from Rikers and the president of the United States under one roof — and ultimately return this hospital to the glory that put it on the map.
The top-notch cast includes Freema Agyeman, Janet Montgomery, Jacko Sims, Anupam Kher and Tyler Labine, and the actors say they enjoy one another’s company on and off the set and have quickly become an extended family.
Eggold is clearly a rising star. After graduating from USC’s theatre department, and immediately landed recurring roles on the soap opera Young and the Restless. This was followed with Entourage, Out of Jimmy’s Head, Brothers & Sisters, Veronica Mars, and a regular gig on Dirt.
He has a pivotal role in Spike Lee’s summer movie BlaKkKlansman, about Ron Stallworth, an African-American police officer from Colorado, who successfully manages to become head of the local branch.
He produced, directed and starred in an original screenplay, Lunchers, and is also known for his major role opposite James Spader on the NBC drama Blacklist.
The Southern California native, is also a gifted musician. When he isn’t acting, he is writing music, playing guitar and piano, and singing in a band.
The collaboration between leading man Ryan Eggold, and Dr. Eric Manheimer, the show’s medical consultant, writer, and producer, has resulted in ground-breaking and memorable stories that will make TV viewers yearn to come back to the show each week.
The following is an exclusive interview with Ryan Eggold on the new medical drama, New Amsterdam.
So, on your recent travels, as you gear up for the debut of New Amsterdam, what have people been saying to you?
Ryan Eggold: People who have seen the trailer, or the whole show, are finding it relatable, which is the most important thing for me in any TV show or film; that you can relate to it in your own life, in your own experience and that you see human beings that you recognize as yourself up there. Hopefully, that’s what people will respond to.
What’s it like hanging around the set with Dr. Manheimer?
RE: It’s awesome. Eric is very articulate and thoughtful. I think we agree on a lot of things. I have a lot to learn about healthcare, and the ins and outs of that from somebody who’s seen every corner of it, the beautiful parts of it, and the not so beautiful parts of it, and maybe ways we can improve it. That’s the best thing about being an actor, is that you get to throw yourself into some area of research and learn about life. So, that part is fascinating to me. We are filming episode five now.
I love that the show has so much heart, and medical staff like your character we want to help people, there are a lot of doctors don’t have any bedside manner, whatsoever.
RE: We have some characters like that, yeah.
So, how did you approach your character of the hospital’s medical director Dr. Max Goodwin?
RE: I take my cues from Eric Manheimer who wrote the book that the series is based on that David Schulner so aptly adapted. What I like about Eric is that he is full of empathy and humanity and wants doctors to approach medicine as human beings helping other human beings; as opposed to treating people like a statistic or a chart, or a standard sort of prognosis or any of these things.
Please tell me more.
RE: What I like about Eric’s bedside manner, his heart, his pathos is that he is also very honest and pragmatic. He’s not overly idealistic or overly sentimental.
Is Dr. Manheimer’s book a reference for you in doing this show?
RE: Yes, I have read it twice and I’m reading another book about Bellevue Hospital that was written very recently.
So, how did you approach the show?
RE: For me, I’m inspired by Eric and his story. I think it’s easy to forget to care. It’s easy to become complacent. I mean, certainly speaking for myself, that reminder to try to care, to reassess, maybe we can do this better in any aspect of life; in your career, with your family, with your relationship with healthcare, with being a doctor, with being an actor, is a wonderful sort of refreshing feeling. Yeah.
Do you think you’re more aware now of what’s going on in the news because the pilot talks about immigration issues and it talks about life and death issues, and Ebola and all these things that we kind of confront but we don’t kind of understand?
RE: I don’t know if I’m more aware of the news now because of the show, but I did certainly respond to the show because of the news in the sense that we’re clearly so divided right now.
Please tell me more.
RE: This is a show that has an optimistic tone about not saying I’m right and you’re wrong, or you’re right and I’m wrong, but not picking a side but figuring out how do we get past the division part and how do we get to the part where we’re doing something about it positively; where we’re trying to make it better, where we’re trying to examine what it is that can be improved upon that, instead of getting stuck in the sort of arguing or divisive part.
How does this relate to Eric’s life?
RE: That’s what Eric had to deal with at Bellevue. He was trying to cut through red tape and bureaucracy and not get stuck sort of fighting battles with the higher-ups; but trying to get something done, trying to get these people cared for.
Do you think that people on TV or in medicine, or in any aspect of life, change the old guard? People are looking at the farmer’s market in the hospital lobby, which is an amazing idea. Can people make a difference like that?
RE: That’s my favorite question to ask because the easiest and most common answer, is no; in the sense that we get so comfortable thinking, ‘Well, the system is larger than me. The government is larger than me. This hospital is larger than me. This institution is larger than me. What can I possibly do that’s going to be of any consequence?’
Please tell me more.
RE: So, with Dr. Manheimer, here’s a guy who made a difference, who completely rebuilt the cardiology department from the ground-up when it had the highest infection mortality rates in the city at the time and created new educational programs for children at this hospital and treated prisoners from Rikers Island with dignity. He made a difference and that hospital I think is affected today because of him. So, for me, that’s the most inspiring part about this story, is that overwhelming odds are not in your favor but I think you really can make a difference.
What is the learning curve in terms of the medical language? And whenever you ask somebody on a medical show, if you’re on an airplane or at the street and somebody needs CPR or whatever, do they call on you?
RE: Not me. Please God, don’t call me. You’ll die if you call on me. Yeah, don’t do it. I would make a terrible doctor. I’m not good with blood and sort of the fragility of the human body is sort of very terrifying to me. I much prefer – in spirit and drama and the stuff like that.
What advice do you have for a teenager or a young adult who watches you or one of your peers and says, ‘This is what I want to do, this is what I want to commit myself to, I know the odds are against me and it’s difficult, and I might have to wait tables”? What do you tell them?
RE: Don’t waste too much time trying to guess or figure out what you’re supposed to be or what they want you to be, or some idea of yourself. But, just spend time figuring out who you really are, what you really want, what you’re really passionate about, what kinds of stories you really want to tell, what kind of characters you want to inhabit and just go after that passionately.
RE: Yes. Don’t worry about trying to fit some kind of mold or become some kind of idea of whatever you think you’re supposed to be. And that applies to almost anything, to any craft, hopefully. That, and don’t have too much of a back-up plan. Just do it.!
My mother would definitely disagree.
RE: All mothers would disagree. My mother would totally disagree. I think that there’s something to that, whether it’s writing, acting, dancing, or whatever it is. I’m not saying that everything works out for everybody, because of course we know that’s not the case. But I do think if you really want it, then yeah, don’t set yourself up for something else.
If we had talked 5, 10 or 15 years ago, what would have been the dream of the career versus the reality of what you’re doing right now?
RE: Gosh, if we talked 10 years ago, I would have had my head so far up my own ass I wouldn’t haven known what to say or think. I think – like I said, one thing that’s changed is when you’re young…I don’t know. It hasn’t changed all that much for me. One thing that’s really exciting, is telling true stories. I love the stories that are taken from real life, and the fact that I get to tell those stories is extremely gratifying for me.
What does it feel like to walk around the set? You said it’s a real hospital and there are actual patients there.
RE: Yeah, sometimes.
Does it get more comfortable?
RE: Yes, very much so. I wish we could shoot in the real hospital every day all day because you get to interact with real doctors, nurses who are going about their job, doing this thing that you’re trying to pretend that you are. And you see real patients because the hospital stays open. They don’t shut down the hospital, so you can film there. You see real patients, real families, real people laughing, real people suffering, everything that happens in the hospital; so that there’s a lot of humanity in one place. So, to see that sort of reminds you what story you’re trying to tell.
The fact that this show is being put on after This is Us, does it really have to say anything else? I mean you’ve already got this audience that’s glued to great drama, great acting and great writing. How does that make you feel?
RE: It’s a wonderful gift to be given such a great platform to introduce this show. The team at This is Us has created this amazing world and these really honest characters that people responded to. They’re just doing such great work and there’s a real humanity and heartbeat to that show that I think our show hopefully has in common. So, it’s a great model to follow.
I’m just going to have to get two boxes of Kleenex right next to me – one for each show.
RE: I know, exactly, more tugging of the heartstrings, but, there is laughter, too.
What is your hope for New Amsterdam?
RE: I hope that people give it a chance. When I first heard about it I said ‘no thanks. Who cares about another hospital show? But then I read it, and I’m so glad I did because it’s really smart and it’s got characters who feel like real human beings, not just characters in a TV show. I think it’s particularly relevant right now not just because this is specifically about healthcare, but like I said there’s that larger message about how do we get past the part where we disagree and get to the part where we can both sort of think positively about how to get something done and get something moving. Again, that important reminder to try to care, too. Can you change the world? It is worth trying to find out. It’s really an inspiring message. So, I hope that people will give it a shot in the same the way that I did.
For further information please go to: https://www.nbc.com/new-amsterdam
To view the trailer: Click Here