Not content to be FORGOTTEN following the unfortunate demise of the Christian Slater drama of the same name, actress Michelle Borth is back. As one of the stars of COMBAT HOSPITAL — ABC’s (Global TV in Canada) sizzling new summer series based on the real life-and-death experiences of the Canadians in charge of Kandahar Airfield Base’s Multinational Medical Unit from 2006-2009, Borth plays Major Rebecca Gordon, a top-of-her-game trauma surgeon whose personal life is anything but. So just how apprehensive was she about jumping back into series television following the disappointment that was THE FORGOTTEN, what attracted her to COMBAT HOSPITAL and is she at all worried about the polarizing nature of war in our entertainment landscape? We recently had the chance to visit the set of the Toronto-based series to find out just that. See for yourself after the jump.
Did you have any apprehension about jumping back into series television following the disappointing cancelation of THE FORGOTTEN?
Michelle Borth: Honestly yeah, a little bit. But what it’s done is teach me to sort of not build up high expectations that might set myself up to fail because you just never know. No matter how great you think your show is, it really all depends on how the audience responds to it and whether or not they embrace it. I thought we had a great show in THE FORGOTTEN, I really did and it was one of those things that was a little heartbreaking. So with COMBAT HOSPITAL I’m trying to just keep my head down, finish shooting and see what happens so that I don’t have these little mini heartbreaks. I’m learning, it doesn’t always go the way you want it to go.
What was it that attracted you to COMBAT HOSPITAL?
I would say that first and foremost it was the character. I got to read a lot of pilots this year and female roles, really meaty powerful roles that you can just sink your teeth into are few and far between. This was one of the only ones, really. COMBAT HOSPITAL was all encompassing. It had a fantastic female lead, a solid ensemble which I really like because that creates a lot of drama and opportunities for different storylines and war, which was an aspect that was really interesting to me.
It’s interesting you say that because audiences seem to have a love/hate relationship when it comes to the convergence of war and entertainment. Were you at all concerned with how polarizing the subject matter can be?
You cannot deny the fact that war is a polarizing topic. But what’s important to me and what I wanted to make sure before I even got into this was that we don’t have a political agenda. We really don’t. We’re telling stories, and you can take away from it what you want, but we’re not coming and force feeding any sort of political agenda or political point of view. We’re here to tell stories and entertain.
Is your character of Major Rebecca Gordon using her deployment in Kandahar to run away from her past, or is it simply a function of her job in the military?
She is being deployed, so whether or not she is happy to be in Kandahar or not is irrelevant. But having recently been dumped by her fiance and possibly pregnant I would think that it’s almost a sigh of relief to be deployed at a time in her life when everything seems to be going to sh*t. And while most of the storylines will start from her arrival in Kandahar, we will delve a little bit deeper into her backstory, most notably issues with her father that will shed some light on her behavior.
Since the show probably didn’t have the budget to send you to Afghanistan, what type of research did you do in preparing for the role?
Because I was cast 3 days before I had to fly out, there wasn’t a lot of time for research. So the prep work has been trial by fire, which works because both my character and myself have been thrown into this new situation. We also have an incredible resource in Major Marc Daphine (MSM, CD, MD, Canadian Forces) who is on set everyday to walk us through all the “ABC’s” of all the procedures. Plus, I do quite a bit of surfing YouTube. You would not believe the number of medical procedures on that site. Kind of difficult and grotesque to watch, but if you want to learn how to insert a chest tube, there are thousands of results.
You can catch new episodes of COMBAT HOSPITAL on Tuesday at 10PM on ABC (Global TV in Canada)