The star of New Amsterdam, Ryan Eggold talks to Des Sampson about his passions, childhood memories and playing doctors and nurses
Were you a swot or a bratty kid, at school?
I was a little punk! I was always getting into trouble - I always wanted to mess with authority, teachers and things. I never liked being told what to do, especially at school. There were all these arbitrary rules and I'd be like, "Why?" It was even like that at theatre school; you'd see these kids come in with really interesting quirks and particularities and the teachers would try to homogenise them. I'd be like, "But don't you want to foster whatever's different about you?"
So you were quite rebellious, then.
Yeah, I was really rebellious. But I think it's really important to question things, to push boundaries. There are certain things that, sure, you want to fall in line for, like treating everyone with respect, being kind and not wanting to be a jerk. Those are all good things to learn and share but you also want to retain your individuality. Now I think I am, in general, pretty laid-back.
What sort of mayhem did you get up to?
Oh, gosh, lots of stuff. We did the graffiti thing once or twice, which was just so stupid. And I'd bring stink bombs into school. Once I brought a stink bomb on to the bus and it just stunk out the whole thing - forever. One of my friends ratted me out, though – the Judas!
Who or what rocks your boat?
I'm a huge fan of Taika Waititi and his films Boy and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. I like that Kiwi humour and love Flight of the Conchords too. There's a lot of great Kiwi art out there.
Did you catch the acting bug young?
Yeah, acting has always been my thing. It was certainly my first sort of way into creative pursuits. I was kid who talked too much, had too much energy, wanted attention and was always trying to make the other kids laugh.
Is it true you dabble with music and play guitar and piano in the band Eleanor Avenue?
That was my first band, like 10,000 years ago. It was an alt-rock band that we started in 1923 - or that's how it feels. Sadly, I don't have as much time for music as I'd like these days but it is such a passion and one of these days I'll take a substantial period of time to play with it, because I do love it. Nowadays I generally listen to folk or soul - or a combination of the two.
Apparently, you've written a couple of film scripts too.
Yeah, I'm trying to get into writing and directing as well as acting. I wrote and directed my first feature two years ago, which was a great experience. It's very challenging being on the other side of the lens because, with acting – even though I'm not the world's greatest actor - I've been doing it for a decade plus now, so I feel like I have a handle on it. But stepping behind the camera is just a completely different perspective. It makes you realise, as an actor, that you're just one of the colours in the tapestry, just one of many people trying to make a movie.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
It sounds like you've had an epiphany?
Oh my God, yes. I realised that when you're a younger, more naive actor you think you're the centre of the set and the universe and it seems like the cameras and lights are pointed at you, so you think, "Obviously this is about me." But as you get older and more experienced, you realise that you're just one part of a huge collaboration.
Does playing a doctor in New Amsterdam mean you've learned a few things about medicine?
Yeah, you do learn some basics, like learning to remain calm and focused and what to do if someone broke their leg or if there was an emergency. Obviously, it's not a substitute for medical school because if anyone came up to me, with an ailment, I would probably end up getting them killed, accidentally, almost immediately. Luckily, I haven't had to deal with any emergencies since the show started, because if someone saw me in scrubs, they'd be like, "C'mon man, help out" and I'd be like, "Dude, it's not reality."
What's top of your bucket list?
I went to Australia - to Sydney and Melbourne - a few years ago, briefly, to promote The Blacklist, and I would have liked more time there, so I could have made it down to New Zealand. I've never been here but it's top of my list because everyone I know who's been, absolutely loves it. I haven't heard one person who's gone to New Zealand, go, "Oh, that was terrible." Everyone talks about how beautiful it is, about getting out into the country, into the hills and I hear Auckland is great too. I'm dying to go there.
New Amsterdam screens on November 6 on SoHo2.