Mob Talk with Josh Berman and Jordana Spiro

The Mob Doctor on set. FOX, Jordana Spiro

In the series, we see both the drama of Grace dealing with the mob as well as her medical cases at the hospital.  Can you talk about what kind of balance we’re going to see as the series goes forward of those two worlds?

Josh Berman: When I’m in the writers’ room, we always say let’s not make any rules because we’re a new show and let’s write the best and most compelling episodes.

We have some episodes that take place predominantly in the hospital, and then some that take place predominantly in the field.  I like to refer to those cases as the dirty medicine cases because we get to tell stories without the bureaucracy of a hospital, and to me that’s what’s so compelling.  I grew up in a household with, again, my dad as a doctor, my mom as a nurse.  There was so much red tape that they had to cut through, and it was the aspect of medicine that my family hated, where they couldn’t put the patient first. Ironically when Grace is in the field, the only thing she needs to do is worry about the patient.  I think she takes that energy and that passion back into the hospital with her; which kind of gives her that I don’t give a … attitude when it comes to placating her bosses and instead she puts her patient’s interest first.  I feel like that is what kind of governs where the stories go.

Do you have a preference, Jordana, of which type of those scenes you’d rather do; the medical scenes or the in-the-field scenes?

Jordana Spiro: I don’t have a preference because there’s some pretty extraordinary actors in both scenes and that’s for me where the real fun comes. I’ve gotten now to work with some of my heroes; Zeljko Ivanek and Bill Forsythe, Kevin Corrigan and Terry Kinney and ….  They each have their own universes that they’re in, so for me I love being able to traverse both worlds.  I think Jesse Lee Soffer, who plays my brother, is jealous of me because he wants to work with the hospital actors, and he hasn’t been able to yet.  That’s one of the really exciting things for me are the other actors I get to work with on this show.

At first I was even saying this, I think it’s very easy to talk about our show and say its ER meets The Sopranos or something like that and take two very archetypal, very known entities and say that we’re the marriage of those two.  I think the risk in that is it almost sounds like we are trying to find a formula within two formulas; like marry two formulas to create one new formula.  I think it’s different than that.

I think that this is really about a woman who dives head first into her problems, who is torn between two worlds that are at odds against each other but really trying to make good in both of them.  We are kind of in a way finding own formula and our own balancing act.  I think that from episode to episode there’s room for it to shift and change.  It’s ultimately to me a show that’s driven by a character trying to make good and find who she is and where her identity is and not a strict procedural.  I don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s how I see it.

You’ve kind of started off the series with Grace Devlin having a relationship, no sexual tension, with Dr. Brett Robinson.  What’s happening with Franco?  Is there something going on with her and Franco also?

J. Berman: You know, they have a history; Franco and Grace.  Their relationship is so layered and so complex and complicated.  Within the first couple of episodes, you’re going to see both her relationship with Brett get a lot deeper, played by Zach Gilford; and you’re going to see her relationship with Franco become a lot more interesting I should say.  There’s a whole arc planned for Grace’s love life which is very much informed by her personal and professional pressures that will begin to unfold over the first half of the first season.

Jordana, what are some highlights for you shooting the series?

J. Spiro: Well, I just touched upon it but one of the biggest highlights so far has been the guest cast that’s come in.  It’s really been a dream come true to work with Kevin Corrigan and Terry Kinney and … has been really just a remarkable experience.  I think that for me right now has been the biggest highlight is who I’ve gotten a chance to work with. Then, let’s see, some of the episode highlights.  I’m not sure what I’m allowed to give away.  So just speaking a little bit more generally, I think as every episode comes to me, I’m just watching the relationships get more complex, more entangled.  That’s been a real enjoyment to just keep continuing to add layers to all of these relationships.

Can you speak on any of the craziest surgery?  I don’t know whether you can actually reveal one of them or two of them.

J. Spiro: We had a fun one the other day.  Ken Olin was the director on this one, where I had to check for internal bleeding on a restaurant kitchen table.  The only thing I could use were tubes from the back of a vending machine.

Like MacGyver.

J. Spiro: If that’s not a MacGyver doctor, I don’t know what is.

J. Berman: That scene that Jordana is speaking of, it’s actually in our third episode, and it is the most incredible scene.  When the editor first saw the rough cut of it, he called all the producers in just to show us her performance.  It’s incredible.  We call it a dirty medicine scene.  When we’re on Jordana’s face, she is so intense.  It was so gratifying when she’s able to lift the material like that.  I can’t wait for people to see that episode.

Jordana, is Grace going to be tempted to test her bond with Constantine a little bit to see what she can get away with?  Is she going to see a different side to him?  Is she going to see him in action as a scary guy?

J. Spiro: In speaking about the complexity of their relationships and the people that Josh has created, one of the things I love about Grace is that all of this stuff just didn’t fall into her lap out of nowhere.  These affiliations were part of her family from before she was born.  You know her father was involved, but involved in a way that I find really moving.  He was this sort of small-time gangster, like a ‘want-to-be crook,’ and I found that to be very moving.  He had always strived to be more of a power player in this crime syndicate and never was clever enough or strong enough or brave enough.  So, these kinds of people are known to her, so I don’t think she’s unaware of Constantine’s potential or ability to play in a world that is very dark and dangerous.  In fact, that very aspect of him is what’s oddly compelling to her about him.


The Mob Doctor Series Premiere is Monday, September 17th at 9:00/8:00 central on FOX.

THE MOB DOCTOR is a production of Sony Pictures Television. The series is created and written by Josh Berman (“Drop Dead Diva,” BONES) and Rob Wright (“Drop Dead Diva,” “Crossing Jordan”). Berman, Wright and Emmy Award-winning director Michael Dinner (“Justified”) and Carla Kettner (BONES) are executive producers. Dinner directed the pilot.

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