Steven Weber is now a series regular on Chicago Med, which came as a surprise to him. Even after Dr. Dean Archer was named head of the Emergency Department, the veteran actor joked his character would be “crushed by a falling piano or something” before Chicago Med season 7. Thankfully for Archer—and the audience—the producers liked Weber so much that they decided to keep him around.
As part of my Fall TV Interviews series, I spoke to Steven about going from recurring guest star to main cast member on Chicago Med and how much more drama Archer will create in the upcoming season. Now that he’s in every episode, just about anything is possible. The Chicago Med season 7 premiere airs on NBC tonight at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT and more on the season is available in my interview with showrunners Andrew Schneider and Diane Frolov.
Brittany Frederick: Does being promoted to series regular change how you play Archer? Since you’re no longer playing to an endpoint with his character.
Steven Weber: It was still a question of the character as was [shared] with me, was that he was in fact much darker. His early episodes had indicated as much through explorations of his PTSD, along with Ethan [Choi] played by the brilliant Brian Tee. That seems to have, I wouldn’t say taken a back seat, but as the cast has become more familiar and [he’s] secure in his surroundings, those fears and those tendencies have subsided. So in a way he’s less overtly dark. He’s less of a real threat. I think he was in the beginning. He really seemed to really throw everybody for a loop. Now he’s kind of assimilating, although he still is rubbing people the wrong way regularly.
BF: He showed a willingness to enforce the rules last season when he called out Crockett and Manning’s relationship. So is that what viewers can expect from him as head of the ED?
SW: His leadership style is in a way reflective of his experience in the Navy, and as a surgeon. He believes in rules and regulations. He’s sensitive to certain situations. But by and large, he’s about keeping the machines in motion. And I think he has a valid point of view, although it stands in contrast to some more sensitive doctors in the hospital.
He runs things in a stricter way than Ethan did. Arguably no less effective although some people, especially Dr. Charles, [played by] Oliver Platt, would say that I need to slow down and I need to actually take people’s psyches into consideration. That actually becomes a point of contention between he and I down the road. There’s no doubt that Archer is stricter and by the book, but that doesn’t mean he’s a robot by any means.
BF: You mentioned the relationship that Archer has with Choi, and most of your screen time last season was with Brian Tee. But Choi is in recovery for at least the first part of Chicago Med season 7. How does that affect Archer, when the person he’s most familiar with and that you’ve worked the most with isn’t there?
SW: His presence is still felt in certain ways, even unspoken ways. But I think what it does is that it leaves my character to dance with other partners. Dr. Charles being one of them, Dr. Marcel, and of course the newer players [Dr. Dylan Miles, portrayed by] Guy Lockard and Asjha [Cooper, who plays Vanessa Taylor].
It’s fascinating because of who Archer is, because of how he’s been written. He’s a bit of the old guard, this guy. He’s a white guy of a particular age. Again, he’s not insensitive, but he’s rigid. He was born well before a lot of the doctors who work there. There’s a bit of a generational gap and potential conflict there. He’s not above using his authority to get his way, but by the same token he is regularly impressed by the passion and the technical ability of all the doctors in the hospital.
BF: Speaking of new characters, you became a series regular at the same time as Guy and Kristin Hager. Was it an easier or different experience joining the main cast when you’re doing it with other actors?
SW: It definitely gives us things to relate to as the newer kids on the block. It also happens that I’ve probably done or been in that situation several times before and maybe our newer players haven’t as much. It’s no less intimidating, but the people on Chicago Med are so welcoming and there’s really not a lot of drama associated with jumping on this moving train. And in many ways, that’s an actor’s life. Being on a show that runs a long time, that’s a bug, not a feature. The feature is you’re a journeyman. You go from job to job and that’s in the description. You have to get used to that.
BF: You’re still filming Chicago Med season 7 as we speak, so just personally, what’s the experience of being a regular been like so far?
SW: I’m having a blast, I really am. I think the show has integrity. Of course its goal is to entertain, but I think they’ve got a brilliant and diverse cast, and it’s essential, it really is essential to keep television and drama relevant. I think they’re doing a great job and I’m so grateful to be a part of it. I’m already getting recognized and stopped on the street because of Chicago Med. And a lot of it is people who can’t stand my character or enjoy hating me, and I’d say “Great, bring it.”
But the thing is that he’s a human being. I’ve met people in the medical industry who say, “I’ve got to tell you your character, as detestable as he is, he’s probably closer to the reality of what a lot of surgeons are like.” And I say, “Oh, come on.” I wouldn’t want to believe that…I wouldn’t want to agree out loud that surgeons are maniacal. But I thought that was very funny and very interesting.
And I think they’re writing my character in an interesting way. He’s a walking contradiction. He’s really a good surgeon, but he has personal issues. And you know, what person in the industry doesn’t? Especially today, with COVID and all the things that are going on, the healthcare industry is being stressed and challenged every day. So it’s not easy. It’s not easy to be happy or optimistic all the time.
Chicago Med airs Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
Article content is (c)2020-2022 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.