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When it comes to any TV series, casting is crucial, but that seems even more relevant when it comes to USA series, as their emphasis on characters relies partially on great writing and partially on the right lead characters. In the case of the USA pilot Rush, the “great writing” checkbox has already been checked with Jonathan Levine on board to write and direct the project. And now it seems they’ve found their lead in Wales-born actor Tom Ellis.
TVLine describes Rush as Olivia Pope (Scandal) meets HankMed (Royal Pains), and from the concept, it’s not hard to understand why. The pilot centers on Dr. William Rush, a doctor who’s on call specifically to very rich, very private people in need of medical attention that requires a fair amount of discretion. He’s a cash only kind of guy who, from the sound of it, is willing to look the other way and only ask questions related to treatment.
Tom Ellis will play the lead role in the pilot, and Reaper’s Rick Gonzalez has also joined the cast, playing the role of Manny Maquis, a “dealer/client/sorta-friend” to the titular doctor. It sounds like he’s a cash-only kind of guy too, but his access to drugs could prove useful to a doctor who’s trying to practice medicine off the books. That’s just speculation though, as TVLine doesn’t actually specify what kind of things this character deals.
Tom Ellis’ credits consists largely of U.K. work, including EastEnders, Harvey Street and Monday Monday. He also played the role of Cenred in Merlin and more recently, the part of Gary Preston in BBC’s Miranda. Stateside, he appeared in Once Upon a Time last season as Robin Hood. Assuming Rush goes to series, this could be a great opportunity to build his resume and gain even more exposure on this side of the pond.
Looking at the description for Rush, it’s not hard at all to picture this show at USA. But I’m even more intrigued by the involvement of Jonathan Levine, who’s proven to be adept at infusing humor with drama in a very human kind of way, both as a writer and a director. He wrote and directed The Wackness, a drama about a marijuana dealer who falls for the stepdaughter of a psychiatrist with whom he trades weed for therapy. He also directed 50/50 and helmed the feature adaptation of Warm Bodies, based on a script he penned adapted from Isaac Marion’s novel. Beyond his ability to merge humor and drama, he’s also proven to be great with a soundtrack, and he has a fun visual style that I think could really add something different to Rush, by comparison to USA’s other series.
I’d really love to see how Rush turns out. But it has to make it beyond the pilot stage first. Finger’s crossed there. In the meantime, it sounds like they’ve got the best of both worlds in Ellis. On one hand, he’s a fresh face in the U.S., but he has a CV packed with experience.