Rachel DiPillo plays Dr. Sarah Reese, a fresh out of med school doctor who is in for a shock in her first week at Chicago Med. DiPillo recently filled us in on what to expect from the newest Chicago show on the block. Check out our interview with Rachel below, and tune in for the premiere of Chicago Med on November 17th at 9/8c on NBC!
The Chicago universe is expanding again! With the other shows, we’re multiple seasons in, we know our characters pretty well- so let’s get to know Sarah Reese a little bit. What can you tell us about her?
I can tell you that Sarah Reese, when Chicago Med begins, is not fresh out of med school, but fresh out of having her nose in books. It’s her first week basically in the hospital environment, and she’s not used to working with people so much. Especially trying to save live, human lives. So she’s kind of terrified and trying to find her bearings when you meet her.
There was an interview with [S.] Epatha [Merkerson] and Yaya [DeCosta] a couple of months ago where they said that when a Dick Wolf show comes along, you don’t really hesitate and you just say YES. How did you come to join the cast, and did you have a similar reaction?
[Laughs]. Let’s see. I had a fifty percent similar reaction because they’re absolutely right. Dick Wolf has had so many hugely successful respectable television series. As someone who kind of lives paycheck to paycheck in the acting world, and you never know where your next job is going to come from, having the opportunity to be on one of his series is super awesome. The other fifty percent is me freaking out about what that opportunity means and am I ready for it? [Laughs]. And just all the craziness that goes on in my mind whenever I have to make a decision. I don’t make it lightly.
It means a lot to you to be joining the Wolfpack, then. Speaking of Epatha, you’re a relatively young actress and you’re joining this cast- and it’s got a couple of veterans. What does it mean to you to get to act beside Epatha and Oliver Platt? And even Colin [Donell] is a little established- he’s got some things under his belt, too.
It’s incredible. I feel like I’ve learned- we’ve been doing this for- I guess, close to two months now? I’ve learned so much already. It’s so, so, so fun and educational for me to work with people who do their acting jobs very, very well, but who also function on set incredibly well. The way they communicate with people, the way they care about the story and what their characters are about, and how they’ve been helpful to me as a little more of a new kid on the block is really humbling. They’re really cool people, and I’m really pleased to work with them. It’s awesome.
We know that Med is not alone in that it is the third show in the Chicago trilogy, but it’s also not the only hospital show on the air. How does Chicago Med set itself apart from the other hospital shows on television right now?
I’m not incredibly familiar with everything that’s out there. I’ve watched a couple of things, but I think it’s mostly obvious that the biggest thing that sets Med apart is that you’re not just getting insight into this trauma unit and getting to know those characters, but you’re kind of getting drama and an education from a very well-rounded world- which I think is more true to life than any other single series is able to represent for the viewer.
One of the unique qualities with the Chicago trilogy is the crossover concept, and the scale on which it is done. Have you been able to film any crossovers yet, and what do you think of the concept of characters moving seamlessly from show to show?
I think it’s brilliant. I’m surprised it hasn’t been done before because I think it’s such a fantastic idea. And yes- I have done a crossover!
Onto Fire or P.D.? Can you tell us?
Hmm. I’m not gonna tell you! [Laughs].
Okay, that’s fair! I thought I’d try to get it out of you. And like I was saying before, we have a pretty good idea of how the Fire and P.D. casts tick, but we don’t really know the Med cast very well. What can you tell us about them? Who is the funniest? Who is the biggest prankster? What kind of antics go on behind the scenes that we don’t get to see?
Oh my goodness. I think I work with some goofballs. Everyone is very serious about what they do, they’re very good at what they do. They’ve been hired for this job for those reasons, but also there is nobody that’s unpleasant to work with. As far as my experience has gone, everyone also likes to have a really good time. Biggest goofball award probably goes to Nick [Gehlfuss], easily.
Are there any pranks that you can tell us about?
Oh no, not yet.
Doctors have years and years of training to do what they do. They have decades of training, but if I remember correctly, the cast only had a couple of days. What has been the biggest challenge for you so far of playing a doctor on television?
The biggest challenge about playing a doctor is trying to do what I know how to do in my acting job and do that seamlessly with things I’m being trained to do as a fake doctor day-to-day. We got to have a quick medical camp as a cast that was facilitated by actual medical professionals, and we have consultants with us on set daily that we’re always looking to for advice and training, and rehearsing procedures that we have to do. The biggest challenge is to represent medical professionals well on television, because the last thing that I want is for someone whose job it is to save lives and who works around the clock doing that to go home, kick back, relax and watch someone absolutely misrepresent how hard they work and how hard they’ve trained on television.
Jason Beghe from P.D. recently said that the star of the trilogy is Chicago itself. What are your initial thoughts on the city so far? Have you had time to explore? Do you have some favorite things to do?
I really like the city so far. The cold- winter is coming, you know? [Laughs]. So that’s not super exciting. But it’s got so much to do. I have not gotten to see as much of it as I would like because I’ve been a little consumed with work, but when people do get out and do something fun, they report back. So my list is long, and my first impression is good, but I haven’t gotten to do as much as I would like yet.
Are you guys on location a lot, or are you primarily confined to the hospital set?
Primarily on the hospital set. I’ve only been to one other location once.
So you’ve got to get out and see the city, then. You’ve got to do the work.
Let’s get to know you a little bit. Do you watch a lot of television? And if so, what is on your DVR?
I don’t watch a lot of television. When I do, I might be watching OWN or binge watching something on Netflix. I got through Friends recently, top to bottom, which was a good bucket list check off for me.
One of my favorite things to do during the shows is live-tweet. Do you do a lot of tweeting, and if so, will you be tweeting with us this season?
I am sure I will be tweeting at least once this season!
I’m not big on Twitter! I have not habituated myself into making it a big part into my work or personal routine, but I’m sure it will happen.
That’s fair! We’ll have to work on that! So my last question, I’ll wrap up with this. For me, I’m a diehard fan of both shows, so I’ll be watching. But for someone who has never seen a Chicago show in their lives, tell us why they should drop everything and tune in on November 17th.
Because this has never been done before! Because this is so cool to have what Dick Wolf productions do well- which is some serious, true to life drama with some humorous, fully developed characters doing their thing. But to do it with people like you who really, really like the other two shows, you’re just getting more of one of your favorite universes, and you’re gonna get some of those characters you already love in with the Med show. I personally think that’s really exciting. I think that’s a great reason to tune in.