British actor Tom Ellis heads to USA on Thursday night, fronting "Rush," the story of a rogue doctor in Los Angeles. And while it's the actor's biggest stateside role to date, he's not feeling the pressure that goes with fronting a show.
"I feel very privileged to be where I am right now," Tom told AccessHollywood.com, after USA flew us up to the show's Vancouver set late last month, where they made us their guests. "It's nice to be able to set the tone on set. ... I enjoy working and I think we're very lucky to be doing what we're doing, and I think if you're not having fun then there's no point doing it. So it's nice to kind of set that tone and have the responsibility and hopefully that kind of peters through."
In the show's opening sequence, Tom's character, William P. Rush, is having a little illegal fun with a blond lady friend when their white party ends up giving her a heart attack. Rush revives her and quickly deposits her in an emergency room, fleeing the scene shortly thereafter.
"Any character you play, I think you have to find some empathy or some sympathy towards that character as to why they are the way they are and why they do what they do, not to excuse them, but to understand why they make those choices," Tom told a reporter on the set visit. "For me, when I read the pilot script, I kind of fell in love with him a little bit. I understood him and I understood the way he communicates in life. He uses a lot of humor, but also, like a lot of people who use humor in life, it's kind of a mask for covering up tears of a clown."
William Rush is set up in the USA show as a gifted physician who privately treats patients who can pay his hefty fee, and available at their beck and call. Outside of his job, he could stand to be a better friend to people like his medical school chum Dr. Alex Burke (Larenz Tate), his ex-girlfriend, Sarah (Odette Annable) and his assistant Eve (Sarah Habel).
"None of his choices that he makes are to hurt people, they're just the choices that he makes because he is at a very selfish point in his life," Tom told reporters. "I think the medication that he takes for himself helps him sort of aquaplane through life. He's kind of quite of happy being [a little bit] above the surface. Any time he touches [it], that's when it kind of resonates with him and he has to think about things and consequences of things. ... He's a good guy, he just makes some bad choices."
One of his forgivable bad choices could be Rush's taste in music, which extends to '80s Debbie Gibson and plenty of other songs that he gleefully bops along to on some of the show's driving scenes.
"Music is a big part of my life. My mum was a music teacher and I've grown up around music and listening to music and I have very eclectic musical taste, shall we say," Tom said, when Access asked about his own influence on the show's tunes.
"The way that music sets the tone for me is very important, so that gave me a clue as to what his taste was and I talked with Jonathan [Levine, 'Rush's' Executive Producer] and Jonathan said, 'Yeah, that's great, that's awesome, just know that Rush has terrible taste in music,'" Tom recounted. "I was like, 'Great! So do I!' And it basically opened up a world of guilty pleasures."
"Rush" premieres Thursday at 9/8c on USA.
-- Jolie Lash