"Do No Harm": A Twisted Take on Jekyll and Hyde

The new series has a hero whose just as devious as his alter ego

By Scott Huver
|  Tuesday, Jan 29, 2013  |  Updated 4:27 PM EDT
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"Do No Harm": Steven Pasquale as Dr. Jason Cole/Ian Price

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Do No Harm’s” not exactly Jekyll and Hyde. It’s a little more like Hyde and Hyde.

The new NBC series offers a contemporary twist on the classic theme of good and evil contained within one man who has two personas: each evening at 8:25, brilliant neurosurgeon Jason Cole vanishes, replaced by a scheming alter ego named Ian Price, a sociopath determined to ruthlessly usurp Cole’s existence by damaging his career and reputation – but Cole’s no saint, either, and just as determined to thwart his alter’s efforts to undermine him.

Series creator David Schulner – who indeed developed the premise from the foundation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" – and star Steven Pasquale offer a glimpse into the ongoing struggle between a single man’s dual nature.

David Schulner: This show you're gonna want to watch every single week. The stuff that Ian does to Jason and Jason will do to Ian, it's a wild roller coaster ride, and it's just thrilling and fun. 

Steven Pasquale: When I read this script, I thought it'd be really hard to tell a classic “Jekyll and Hyde” in a contemporary setting. But what's smart about David's pilot is that it sort of unlocks a similar story, you know what I mean, with something sort of in the flavor of Dissociative Identity Disorder that ultimately could have a lot more layers than just kind of like good versus evil.

Schulner: Ian's a little bit like a cat: the cat wants to play with that mouse. He doesn't want to kill it because what fun would that be? So Ian's going to do a lot of stuff to Jason, and then what's great about Jason's character is Jason's just as smart as Ian is and is sometimes two steps ahead of Ian, so there are traps in place. There are safeguards, there are fail-safes.

Pasquale: The threat should always be there because it informs the rest of the story so, so much. It really is a very real threat of something going very dark. Whether or not it happens will remain to be seen, but certainly that's where all of the tension lies.

Schulner: We are using a lot of those kind of medical anomalies from Dissociative Identity Disorder. When you switch from alter to alter, your brain goes into a fugue state, so when when Jason's not Jason, that part of the brain is literally asleep, and then when he transitions to Ian, the same thing is happening. So while his body's pretty run-down, the mind is okay. And we will deal with that: he's burning the candle at both ends, and that can't last. We've used the ideas of people waking up in surroundings that they have no idea how they got there. They go to work and all of a sudden people are looking at them differently, and they realize, ‘Oh, God – What did I do?’ That was the kind of stuff that I wanted to tap into.  You were a different person last night, and how do you deal with that when you're yourself again?

Pasquale: The really interesting true-life DID cases were, like, one alter has better vision than the other alter. One is left‑handed and one is right‑handed. So there's a lot of really fascinating signs within DID, medically speaking.  But what Jason suffers from is a fictitious condition loosely based on DID, not exactly DID.

Schulner:
The Robert Louis Stevenson novel, "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," has everything, and if you haven't read it recently it holds up well. So we've used a lot of the stuff straight from the source and tried to incorporate that into the show.

Pasquale:
Ultimately what we decided was we didn't want to do the classic thing where one guy's like a monster and really violently different than the other guy. We wanted them to have a gray area behaviorally, so that all the other characters when they intersect, it's really interesting for the audience, because then the audience knows that it's Jason or Ian, but the other people don't.

 

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