Tom Ellis Plays A Steamy “Medical Fixer” In USA’s New Series “Rush”

Tom Elis

Tom EllisWhen baseball pros with anger issues, actors with — ahem — personal problems, or bullet-riddled gangsters need a discreet doctor, who do they call? If you’ve got cash, then Dr. Will Rush (Tom Ellis) has no prejudice. Rush, USA Network’s new high-octane drama, premieres  boasts an antihero lead with as much to hide as his famous, and infamous, clientele.

Rush has all of the trappings of a slick medical drama; its protagonist’s swanky hotel room features a portable defibrillator machine, his car’s trunk has a portable surgery suite, and he is in possession of and uses every drug known to man. But Rush is far more than a procedural medical show, so don’t expect a parade of bizarre medical cases each week. According to Ellis, the show is mostly about why Will Rush is who he is and his struggle between his conscience and his lifestyle. “I think Will became a doctor because he cared about people,” says Ellis, but somewhere, something happened to drastically alter Will’s purpose. “It’s almost a disconnect between that man’s soul and what he does for a living.”

A hard-partying, adrenaline-junkie doctor with shady friends is a fun character to play, says sexy Welshman Ellis. “Actors usually say they like to play baddies. You get to go exercise all of the things that you’d like to say and the way you’d like to be in life but you couldn’t get away with in real life. It’s quite liberating to play a character like that. It’s quite cathartic.”

How does Ellis bring an element of pathos to a character who is as morally ambiguous as his patients? “It’s a fine line between the drama and the humor and the heaviness, and it needed a sort of lightness of touch for you, as a viewer, to not hate the guy. Because he does some pretty despicable things,” says Ellis. For inspiration, he points to the unpolished antiheroes of David Duchovny’s Hank Moody on Californication or Bryan Cranston’s Walter White on Breaking Bad, or his personal favorite, “Harrison Ford in Star Wars. He’s a pretty cocksure, arrogant kind of character, but you still loved him in a rogue-y kind of way.”

Surrounding Will P. Rush is a support system of rich characters who enable him to blur the line between right and wrong, including a street-smart drug dealer (Rick Gonzalez), his strait-laced ER doctor best friend (Larenz Tate), a former love who sees right into his soul (Odette Annable), and his female assistant (Sarah Habel) who serves as his moral compass. While several of the show’s characters try to keep Will ethically grounded, it is the show’s female characters who hold the greatest control over him. Admits Ellis with a laugh, “Women are probably his kryptonite.”

While some may be quick to compare Rush to another USA on-call doctor, “I’m very careful not to use the word ‘concierge,’” says Ellis, referring to Royal Pains and its lovable doctor Dr. Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein). “The two shows are very different. ‘A maverick physician’ may be a better way to put it.”

Rush > USA Network > Thursdays beginning July 17

images ©Gavin Bond/USA Network