Tonight, NBC’s third Chicago series, Chicago Med, opens its doors. And in TV’s newest fictional hospital viewers will find Dr. Sarah Reese, the overachiever played by actress Rachel DiPillo. LA Fan Cultures Examiner conducted an e-mail interview with Rachel to ask her about the impact of joining the network’s biggest franchise, what’s ahead for Reese this season and which TV doctor she’d have on her case.
“As an actress, it’s a fantastic opportunity to be integrated into an already existing universe that people both enjoy the drama of and as a workplace that already functions very smoothly,” Rachel told us about joining the Chicago universe, following the successes of Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D., both of which have already been renewed for their next seasons.
“I haven’t seen everything out there, but I haven’t seen a doctor like Sarah on TV before,” she said. “First of all, she’s young and female and I like her, because she’s studying to be a doctor and an educational space is fun to play in as an actor. There is a lot of opportunity for growth. She’s a fourth year medical student who has just landed at the ED [Emergency Department] when the show opens, so you see her really struggle with that environment versus memorizing and tests and everything she knew before that.”
Though this is Rachel’s first leading role in a hospital series, it’s not the first time she’s ever appeared on one. Previously, she had guest star roles on both The CW’s medical comedy Emily Owens, M.D. and TNT’s drama Hawthorne. How has her experience on Chicago Med compared to those two prior projects?
“The biggest difference as far as my own experience of working on those shows is that on those two, I was playing the patient,” she reflected. “Now I’m playing the caretaker. I find it makes a difference understanding what it is like to be in the actor-playing-patient shoes, because even though it looks like someone is just lying on a gurney for hours, it’s actually challenging and uncomfortable work. I never like to see an actor experiencing that get ignored for too long because they’re not a part of the conversation.”
“I have experienced a hyper-awareness to mortality in a really good way,” she continued. “Working on set with actual medical professionals, learning the basics of life-stabilizing techniques, shadowing at hospital… Has brought me a lot of gratitude and appreciation for the strength and delicacy of life, and for the people that dedicate their lives to saving and healing others.”
Like its two predecessors, Chicago Med actually shoots in the city that gives the show its name, so Rachel has gotten to work and live in a different environment. “I think filming here makes a very big difference in terms of getting to work with actual Chicagoans and the whole vibe that influences our daily lives here,” she said. “I come from Los Angeles, and it has a very different vibe in my opinion. I would recommend a lakeshore bike ride before it gets too cold!”
Is there a TV doctor that she’d trust to treat her if she landed in a fictional hospital? “I’ve always got mad love for Dr. House,” she laughed. “I would even not mind him being on my case, provided he didn’t bully me too much!”
Chicago Med premieres tonight at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.