In the upcoming Starz series TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY, Arlene Tur plays Dr. Vera Juarez, a cardio thoracic surgeon swept up by the miraculous events of what happens when literally every person on Earth stops dying. No matter how dire their injuries, it is impossible for death to claim a single life. It is a medical mystery and a worldwide conundrum.
As seen through the eyes of a doctor confounded by this “miracle” and yet acutely aware that our tiny planet cannot possibly sustain more life due to the rapidly decreasing resources, Arlene’s role is pivotal. She is the voice reminding everyone that this “miracle” has a nasty side-effect: worldwide starvation within months due to this suspension of death. This miracle may not be the miracle that everyone thinks it is.
Dr. Juarez is also the treating physician for CIA agent Rex Matheson (portrayed by Mekhi Phifer) and because of her unique dual position as the voice of the medical community and having the inside ear of the CIA, Dr. Juarez becomes further embroiled in the global events quickly spiralling out of control.
Taking a few minutes out of her own globally busy schedule, Arlene shared what it was like working on TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY and offered a few clues about what to expect.
What is the one word you would use to describe your character, Dr. Vera Juarez?
Why would you describe her that way?
ARLENE: In the face of chaos, she is always professional and yet wants to know the truth. She wants things to be just and right, and she’s very dedicated.
After the first couple of episodes, it seemed Vera’s mindset changed from where she started in the first episode through the third episode (“Dead of Night”), where she seemed to have decided not to adhere to the strict doctor-patient relationship and she became involved with Rex — and then she also agreed to act a little bit like a government spy working with Torchwood. So I was curious about that rapid transition and how you felt about it.
ARLENE: As an actress, I was very excited. I was very fortunate because I thought when I was signing up for it that my character was going to be more in the hospital. But it turns out that I get involved with the CIA and it turns into a “fish out of water” story. She’s a cardio thoracic surgeon and she’s thrown into a world where she is completely incompetent. So she gets nervous and insecure, which is so exciting to play.
Must have been fun.
ARLENE: John and Eve, the original leads who came over from London, were so open and so happy and collaborating. They were so excited to be getting a fourth season. So it was so wonderful to be working with everybody. Everyone was so appreciative and trying to work together to make this a wonderful project.
It sure looked like everyone was having a lot of fun working on the show. There was a kind of joyousness to the performances.
ARLENE: How funny! That’s good. Definitely comes across. That’s wonderful!
What do you think propelled the change in Vera? Was it just the fact that she now has this opportunity to have a never-ending life that made her think, ‘I’ll just take these extraordinary opportunities as they are arising before me’?
ARLENE: I think it was necessity. Necessity and crisis. And in a crisis, it is either fight or flight. ‘Cause everything was changing and she thought that she, as a doctor, needed to change — just as science changes — which is major.
So she decided to fight back.
ARLENE: Absolutely! She feels responsible. She feels responsibility for people due to her career. People looked to her for answers.
She’s not going to just sit back and watch it all happen. She’s going to be a part of it.
ARLENE: That’s right. Absolutely.
Was there anything emotionally or physically challenging about working on this particular project?
ARLENE: Emotionally, there was a scene where Vera had to talk about her mother who died, and I can’t even imagine being without my mother. So that was hard.
Did you get a chance to work with Bill Pullman in any scenes? What was that like?
His character is intense.
ARLENE: He’s a big man, but wonderful. He’s very sweet and giving. There aren’t many scenes where our characters interact, but he was phenomenal in character.
What did you admire/love the most about Vera?
ARLENE: That’s she’s not willing to stay in the dark. She does whatever it takes.
She has strong self-initiative and wants to be a part of it all?
ARLENE: Oh yeah. Whatever it takes. I think it is because she feels responsible for other people.
That sense of wanting to help?
ARLENE: I mean, you take an oath — it’s in the Hippocratic Oath that you will do everything in your power and that your patients come first. Basically, you dedicate yourself to their care. I think she feels responsible and she will follow through on that.
Did you film exclusively in the United States in Burbank or did you get the opportunity to go to Wales?
ARLENE: I wish! It would have been so exciting. I wish I had been able to go to Wales.
How did you feel the way Vera was portrayed as far as her wardrobe – the look that they gave her in costuming? It seemed like she was the more sensualized character.
ARLENE: Thank you! I loved it. We had a wonderful costume department. They did a great job. It felt right on in that she is very sexy and yet she takes care that she looks like a professional in such a male-driven world.
Visually you were very captivating to watch. Not only was your presence strong, but also you conveyed that through the costuming. You were not just a doctor. It was beautiful.
ARLENE: Oh, wonderful! Thank you! That makes me so happy. But remember it took a lot of people. It was not just thrown together. When it comes together like that it is very encouraging.
Talking about the relationship that develops between Vera and Rex, do you think it was just the heightened circumstances that threw them together or was there something more that drew her to him?
ARLENE: I believe crisis and proximity had a lot to do with their emotions. But he did exude charm and was mysterious, and she was lost and didn’t know what was going on, so she was curious. Because he seemed to have the information and answers. So that was also intriguing for her. It seemed kind of like a game.
That was really hot – the interaction between them was really great chemistry.
ARLENE: Great! Thank you.
What is the one thing you want viewers to know about Vera that may not be readily apparent?
ARLENE: She can take off “the doctor” role and be very open, very romantic, very loving and human. She’s very family-oriented and they really don’t show that. I wish, but they can’t do everything.
Do you have any future projects that you’re looking forward to now?
ARLENE: I’m auditioning for a couple projects that I can’t talk about yet. But I can tell you that I’m starting to produce a couple shows right now.
Had you seen any episodes of TORCHWOOD before you were cast in MIRACLE DAY? Like had you watched any of the prior seasons/series of TORCHWOOD to get a feel for the show or did you go in fresh without any preconceived idea about it?
ARLENE: I wish I had the time to watch all the great shows out there, but I don’t, unfortunately. I hadn’t even heard of it. But when I got the audition, I started studying up on it. Then I watched it all. I loved it. I really, really loved it. Then I just got lucky enough to be a part of it.
With such high energy and enthusiasm for her part in TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY, Arlene hopes that you will tune-in and watch it to see what extraordinary adventures she was lucky enough to be a part of. TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY premieres Friday, July 8th at 10:00PM on Starz (Saturday July 9th at 9PM on Space in Canada)
Photo Credit: Kesler Tran
Tiffany Vogt is a contributing writer to TheTVAddict. She has a great love for television and firmly believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored – she invites you to join her. Please feel free to contact Tiffany at Tiffany_Vogt_2000@yahoo.com or follow her at on Twitter (@TVWatchtower).