"I have a hybrid car, a Prius. I turn off my lights every time, I make sure the air conditioning is off. I recycle," says Jordana Spiro, star of the Fox drama "The Mob Doctor," premiering Sept. 17. She plays surgeon Grace Devlin, who becomes doctor-on-call to the Chicago mafia in order to pay back her brother's debt and save his life.
"She came from such a tough background. She had a father whose primary relationship was with alcohol, and was a small-time crook, a Mafia wannabe," says Spiro, "She clawed her way out of a really tough existence and she's made it, she's in her third year as a surgical resident and now she gets sucked back in. So I feel for her. She's trying to make good in both those worlds. She's a survivor."
That identity crisis the character faces and the Chicago setting intrigued her; her sitcom "My Boys" was set there but was shot in L.A., except for occasional exteriors. "When you're on location it just lends to the authenticity of it in everything that you do. It helps solidify a cast. We shot in a hospital, and it helps the actors, the director, and brings more authentic life to everything."
For research, "I shadowed an attending surgeon as well as three different surgical residents, I did 24 hour rotations, went into ERs, ORs. It was really extraordinary. It reminded me of why I love being an actress because it gives you incredible access if you choose to let it. To watch people playing God, in a way, it was really mind blowing. I watched the ER team work on people who could have been pronounced dead and they still worked to revive them. That stuck with me in heartbreaking, beautiful, extraordinary way."
As for learning tongue-twisting medical jargon, "It's getting there, although the medical writer put a phonetic glossary on the back of all of our scripts," confides Spiro. "He was really tired of having his ears explode at the table read."