“Do No Harm” is the latest attempt at a modern Jekyll/ Hyde story where two very different personalities inhabit one body.
In the new NBC drama, which premieres tonight (Thursday, Jan. 31), Steven Pasquale plays a respected surgeon, Jason Cole, who at night turns into the evil Ian Price. Efforts to control his dark side have failed and now Cole must deal with his inner madman gone wild.
The task for Pasquale is to make each personality distinct without going to monstrous extremes.
“What we decided was we didn’t want to do the classic thing where one guy’s like a monster and really violently different than the other guy. We wanted them to have a gray area behaviorally. When the other characters intersect, it’s really interesting for the audience because the audience knows that it’s Jason or Ian. But, the other people don’t,” Pasquale says. “They’re wired completely different and they have completely different personalities, but behaviorally speaking, you wouldn’t know that.”
Price’s personality is dark. But don’t expect him to do anything outlandishly illegal. The producers want the battle between the two personalities to be more like a chess game where one is trying to outsmart the other. This game will be waged by players who are absolute equals in intelligence.
The producers found their inspiration in the Robert Louis Stevenson novel “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” but there are actual cases of people with Dissociative identity disorder. It’s not unusual for those with the condition to have personalities with different degrees of vision or one will be right handed while the other uses the left.
Pasquale comes to the series after spending seven seasons playing Sean Garrity on “Rescue Me.” He wanted a role less comical. The new series isn’t just a change in tone, it’s a big switch in work schedules. “Rescue Me” was an ensemble show. On “Do No Harm,” Pasquale has to do the work of two actors.
“I got to sort of pop in and pop out of ‘Rescue Me’ and that was great and very relaxing. And now, every story point either involves Jason or Ian. So I’m just there all the time. We have a joke at work. Whenever these guys have a scene that doesn’t involve me, they get really happy because all they ever act with is me.”
There wasn’t a lot of time for Pasquale to think about how he was going to make the halves of his character’s personalities be different. He was cast and two weeks later started filming the first episode. He says the key is to listen to the producers, directors and writers.
The prop department helps Pasquale remember which character he’s playing. When he’s shooting a scene with his good personality, they make sure his chair says “Jason Cole.” And when we’re shooting his bad side, the chair says “Ian Price.”
'DO NO HARM' 10 p.m. Thursday NBC