September 13, 2012
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Spiro lives double life in 'Mob Doctor'
By Bill Harris, QMI Agency


Jordana Spiro. (WENN.COM)

Schizophrenic isn't quite the right word for the new drama The Mob Doctor, which is both a crime show and a medical show. Maybe "genre-phrenic."

And at the centre of it all, hired to hold these disparate worlds together, is charming series lead Jordana Spiro. That's quite a responsibility, isn't it?

Spiro got a look on her face as if she never had thought of that before.

"We need some tissues and Prozac right away!" bellowed Spiro, pretending to have a panic attack. "Actress down! Actress down! Get a therapist!

"Seriously, I only realized that in waves, because the showrunners were very wonderful at not making me feel that pressure.

"It first dawned on me when I was doing my 14th walking-with-determination shot during the pilot."

Well, whether she's walking or talking or running or operating with determination, Spiro is in virtually every scene in The Mob Doctor. It debuts Sunday, Sept. 16 on CTV, and then Monday, Sept. 17 on its network of origin, Fox.

Spiro plays Dr. Grace Devlin, a top resident at a Chicago hospital. But Grace has a family secret: When her brother's life was in danger after he amassed substantial gambling debts with a gangster, she made a deal to secure her brother's safety.

Basically, Grace agreed to work "off book" as a doctor for the mob. The circumstances she faces in this regard range from clownishly comical to life-and-death serious.

This really is two shows in one. Think Grey's Anatomy (with less silliness) meets The Sopranos (with less profanity).

So as an actress, which aspect of The Mob Doctor comes more naturally to Spiro, the mob or the medical?

"Well, in the mob world I don't have to throw out words like thrombocytopenia," Spiro reasoned.

Now, there could be thugs out there who have ears for medical lingo. Maybe cauliflower ears. But OK, we get the point.

"The double-life sense of the story was very interesting to me, because at one point I had gone back to New York (from Los Angeles) and started going to grad school," said Spiro, who is from New York originally. "It was a similar field, writing and directing, but it's a very intensive program at Columbia University.

"So I was up all night in the editing room trying to get stuff done, then flying to L.A. and doing a bit of acting work, then coming back to New York. So I had this funny double-life, which kind of helped me in this role."

Wow, Spiro is so Method, as they say in the acting game.

"I know, right?" Spiro agreed with a laugh. "I actually did a couple of tracheotomies on the way here. They didn't go so well."

Well, no one expects medical miracles, Jordana. After all, you're a mob doctor. The best we can hope for is a workable combination of criminal and clinical precision.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca




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