Wings, Sunset Strip Studio 60, and Indebted alum Steven Weber admitted that being the new guy at the start of Season 6 of the long-running hospital drama Chicago Med wasn’t pleasant.
On the Dick Wolf-produced season, which airs Wednesdays on NBC, the 60-year-old actor was newly cast as the talented but brash Dr. Dean Archer.
“It’s always a little nerve-wracking, jumping aboard a moving train, which is what it is like joining a show that is already in motion, But Brian [Tee] and the other actors made me feel very at home,” Weber told reporters in a recent Zoom interview.
Archer is the former mentor of Tee’s character, Dr. Ethan Choi, who now is chief of the titular hospital’s emergency department.
“We get along very well,” Weber said of him and his co-star. “They are writing our characters in an interesting way. There is a kind of immediacy and compassion in our relationship that is kind of surprising.
“It hasn’t been so gradual. Our characters haven’t seen each other for a long time and then we find ourselves immediately in situations where we’ve got to be vulnerable and truthful with each other.”
Years after Dean was flight surgeon Ethan’s commander in the U.S. Navy, the old friends were able to quickly reconnect.
“We understand each other,” said Tee, 44. “There is a bit of a shorthand and understanding that is also layered in all of our conflicts.”
Tee thinks his positive working relationship with Weber elevates their acting and provides texture to their characters’ rapport.
“We have a great push-pull relationship through our characters,” Tee explained. “There is this clash of personalities, but yet also this yin-yang approach to certain things that intermeld within one another as we go through storylines.”
The arrival of Dean offers new insight into who Ethan was in his younger years and that is something Tee is excited to explore.
“Whenever they bring someone new that has kind of defined Ethan prior to getting into Chicago Med, it just gives me access to build upon,” Tee said.
Dean pushes Ethan out of his comfort zone, but also serves as a sounding board for his fellow physician.
“[Ethan] needed someone to push him in a direction he was uncomfortable with or take on a new role, in particular, that he needs to actually build a foundation upon as far as being chief, yet allow himself to be vulnerable in certain situations where he has someone else to bounce things off,” Tee said.
Dean now is second in command to Ethan, causing a transfer of power between the two men.
“Things are starting to be revealed that indicate that there is less easiness and simplicity than there was when we were both in the Navy,” Weber said. “The writers are figuring out where Ethan and Dean can go and see where they trigger each other.”
Weber laughed when asked about why Dean doesn’t seem interested in making new friends in the emergency department.
“People are looking at me and they give me such crap,” he said of the show’s fans.
“It’s fun how people have been responding to it,” he added. “[Dean’s] flinty and he doesn’t know how to comport himself with people.
“It’s a younger atmosphere. He feels a little out of place. He’s trying too hard. He’s a little bit old school, plus the built-in shift of dynamic with him and Ethan. He used to be Ethan’s superior, but now Ethan is his superior. It’s a blow to his ego.”
But he’s not a bad guy, Weber is quick to clarify.
“The show is able to show his dickish side, but also he redeems himself in little ways. He is actually a gifted surgeon and he still has that,” Weber said, giving as an example how Dean insisted that two staffers report their romance to human resources, even though it was none of his business.
“He’s been out of things for a little while. His own damaged sensibilities are being applied to situations that really don’t require his intervention,” Weber said.
Ethan never disclosed his relationship with nurse April Sexton (Yaya DaCosta,) one journalist pointed out.
“No. Why would we?” Tee joked. “Dean was never there.”
“You’re lucky,” Weber quipped.
Dean also has the habits of second-guessing other doctors and going behind their backs, even Ethan’s.
“Dean is an amazing surgeon and an incredible mind and Ethan brought him in because of that and he completely respects him,” Tee said.
“In the end, I feel like with Ethan, if the patient becomes better or is cured or we find out what [the medical issue] is, you have to be good with it no matter how you got there.”