STARRING opposite his boss has been a liberating experience for Michael Vartan.
The actor, best known for his role on JJ Abram’s popular spy series Alias, says HawthoRNe executive producer Jada Pinkett Smith is the perfect co-star.
“Other than the studio, she has the most power, for lack of a better word, on set,” Vartan said.
“I’ve been on shows in the past where as an actor you always want to be creative, change a few lines to make the scene more believable, and when you ask to change something it has to go through so many different people. With Jada on set I ask ‘can I say it like this’ and she says ‘sure’. It’s a nice creative environment.
“She’s so gracious and cool and laid-back. When the crew likes her it’s a telltale sign that she’s all right. There are many divas in show business and she’s certainly not one of them.”
The third series of HawthoRNe debuts this week on The Universal Channel.
Vartan says the show has evolved from an ER-style medical drama to a more character-driven show.
“It’s certainly not a nurses show any more,” he said
“There’s murder, love triangles, completely unforeseeable things that have really taken the show in a completely different direction.”
The new series opens with the marriage of Vartan and Smith’s characters. The storyline mirrors Vartan’s real-life wedding, which happened just days before production began.
“We had planned our wedding date (April 2) almost a year in advance,” he said.
“I saw Jada at a Q&A we were doing and I asked her as joke, ‘When are we starting season three?’.
“She said ‘April 4’ and I said ‘Are you kidding?’ We had no honeymoon, but at least I was working. We’re planning now where to go for the honeymoon.”
But the marital bliss doesn’t last long on screen. Vartan’s character buys a gun, something unusual for HawthoRNe but a familiar prop from this time on Alias.
“I miss the guns from Alias,” he said.
“Trading in my gun for a stethoscope was not quite satisfying.”
The third series contains so many twists and turns that by the end of production the writers were handing out scripts as soon as the printer spat them out.
“Ultimately you have to surrender control. You’re at the mercy of the writers and a good editor.”
HawthoRNe debuts on The Universal Channel on Tuesday at 7.30pm