When Chicago Med returns to NBC on Sept. 21 for season 8, plenty of change is in store for Gaffney Chicago Medical Center. Among the excitement, you’ll be seeing a lot more of Dr. Hannah Asher, played by Jessy Schram.
As the cast continues to filming, Schram took a break to chat with LA Confidential about the upcoming season, Hannah’s redemption and what she has learned from playing an OBGYN.
Let’s look back a bit. When you first learned you were going to be bumped up to a series regular, what was your thought process about what could be in store for Hannah?
It made me excited to know that they wanted to take a character that has a lot of turbulence and turmoil within her career and personal life and see where she goes from there— that they didn't just bring Hannah on as a character to create some drama with Will.
They really want to take the character and show the struggles and the highlights and the wins of somebody that deals with addiction and is in the career that she's in and see where we go from there. So for me it was exciting because we get to follow Hannah through, as opposed to just seeing her in this low point of her life.
Looking ahead, what can fans look forward to from season 8 of Chicago Med?
Oh my gosh, everything is growing. The hospital is growing in different ways. We have some fun new characters coming along. We have relationships that are everlastingly changing. This season, now that we're getting out of COVID times, is a little bit more broad and it's a lot bigger in certain ways. There's a little more action going on in the hospital than normal.
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What is in store for Hannah?
From last season, there was a lot of Hannah coming back and really needing to prove herself and really needing to get people to trust her again. And there was this anticipation of her screwing up all the time. And I feel like obviously Hannah is still going to have to continue to prove herself and deal with stigmas, but now in season 8, she's dealing with that, but she's well past the initial phase of coming back so we really get to see her grow.
As you touched on, Hannah's story offered audiences a look at someone's journey with sobriety and addiction. Why do you think that's important for television, especially a show about doctors?
When I got this role and had this character come along, I was like, “What do you mean she's addicted to heroin and she is this amazing OBGYN?” To me, I had a different face of what addiction looks like, and especially something like heroin. I didn't place that in the workplace or opioids within the medical field. It broadened my eyes of who has to deal with this kind of issue. And so I think it's important because it it takes a different face of what addiction looks like and it puts it in a different workplace and in a different scenario, and it introduces different characters that are part of your everyday life, as opposed to maybe that person that's on the street or that's sensationalized in the movies. It definitely gives a different view and it shows addiction as something that you're constantly working through. Just because all of a sudden you decide one day to say, “Nope, I'm going to get better. I'm going to focus on my career.” We're really showing how you need to build back this new life that Hannah needs to create within the workplace and her personal life.
In your time on the show, what has been the most surprising thing you’ve learned?
Oh my gosh, everything pregnancy. Because I'm playing a gynecologist and the surgeon, boy have I learned a lot. I think I’m constantly fascinated by the human body because it is so powerful. But I think getting to play the role of a doctor as opposed to just a patient, I'm also learning about ordinary people that are doing these superhuman things by saving lives and operating. And so every time I get a script, I’m looking up what it means, I’m consulting with medical doctors. Every single script, I am blown away by. I think I know what's happening and what's going on from my prior knowledge. No, I had no idea. And when it comes to all the pregnancy stuff, I'm terrified by it all.
How does playing a doctor make the acting experience unique?
I think that playing a doctor, there's a different confidence and a different settling in your body and a different professionalism. We were just doing a scene the other day, and within that, I needed to to remember that I as Hannah, as my character, have certain feelings, but as a doctor, you present yourself a different way. So for me as an actor, it's been more about really gaining a certain quiet confidence and also this boldness of walking into a room and having a certain authority. So for me, it's more just been learning a little bit more authority.
Has that had an impact on you personally?
I think it's made me more aware of how I'll go into scenarios or within group situations, what's going on. Especially playing a female doctor, I talked to a lot of different doctors, nurses and gynecologists before I got the role, as well as during, and all of them always say being a female doctor, you're respected, but you're looked at in a different way. A lot of the time, a patient may think you're a nurse or something like that. So it's very interesting, even in my daily life, just being a woman and seeing how different people will react to different things. And I've definitely looked at that a little bit more within the medical field and who I'm playing and taking that into my personal life. It's fascinating when you start observing different people's different people's reactions and ways of being around you when you try to have some more authority.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Photography by: Photos by Ella Hovspian