The new NBC series "Do No Harm" aims to do less harm to the environment via eco-friendly production practices. "We only print on double-sided paper in the office. We give everyone water bottles, canteen type things. We don't have our own sets," says creator/producer David Schulner, explaining that they use existing spaces including the Philadelphia Board of Education's lobby as the hospital lobby and its empty fifth floor as other sets. A Tesla Model S driver, he hopes to get one of the electric cars on the show next season.
Premiering Jan. 31, the drama is about a man with two warring personalities à la Jekyll and Hyde, one a noble neurologist, the other a bad boy hedonist who threatens his alter ego's existence. Steven Pasquale convincingly plays the dual role, which is quite the departure from Sean Garrity, the fireman he played on "Rescue Me." "Sean wasn't the brightest bulb. The challenge as an actor is to make sure no one pigeonholes you, so I was looking for something very different from that, do a drama and play a smart guy," explains Pasquale.
Schulner, whose 20-year friendship with Pasquale dates back to college and is very familiar with his theater work, had no doubt that the actor could carry the double role. But as Pasquale acknowledges, "It's an enormous amount of work. 'Rescue Me' was very much an ensemble show, so I got to sort of pop in and pop out, and that was great and very relaxing," he says. "Now I'm there all the time. It's really exhausting but fulfilling in every way, I have to say."
Typically, he switches back and forth between the two characters, filming both parts before changing locations, and gives credit to the prop department for making sure his chair has the right character name, Jason or Ian, to help him keep them straight. "When I read this script, I thought it'd be really hard to tell a classic 'Jekyll and Hyde' in a contemporary setting. But ultimately I thought it could have a lot more layers than just good versus evil," says Pasquale. "Jason is a do-gooding, charming doctor who speaks earnestly, and Ian is the opposite. They've given me free reign to be as big and broad as I want depending on what's happening in the scene. We're hoping the audience will find themselves pulling for Ian and hate themselves for it."
Although he has an on-set neurosurgeon to call upon for technical advice, the degree of difficulty playing Dr. Jason makes him more challenging of the two to play. "Ian doesn't have to say any of that medical sh*t. Neurosurgery is no joke," Pasquale confides, adding, "I'm a little partial to Ian."
A native of Maplewood, N.J., who grew up in Hershey, Penn., where his dad ran the famous chocolate company ("There was always candy around the house; ironically, I never had a sweet tooth"), Pasquale is now back in Pennsylvania for the show, and closer to where his teenage daughter lives, though his wife Laura Benanti is working in L.A. opposite Matthew Perry in "Go On." He finds Philadelphia to be "a very walkable" city. "I love putting on my sneakers and walking around the city, seeing a movie, having a great dinner. The cast really gets along well so we do a lot of going out to eat after work."
Passionate about recycling, Pasquale drives a Prius and conserves at home. "We're really good about the lights, and all of our bulbs are eco-friendly. I have a fantasy of having a farm someday, a totally off the grid farm. That's on the wish list of life."