'Nurse Jackie' Sidekick Merritt Wever Talks Season 2
By Maggie Coughlan Posted Mar 22nd 2010 09:17AM
Merritt talked with PopEater about the record-breaking success of 'Nurse Jackie,' what's to come in season 2 and what working with Peter Facinelli is really like.
"He's like doubly enjoyable. He's so good and it's so funny," she says.
When you first accepted the role of Zoey, Nurse Jackie's doe-eyed, eager and very green sidekick, what was the appeal?
I was a lot more attracted to the show, because I would get to work with Edie, than I was, honestly, to the role at first. I think in pilots, the characters are painted in pretty broad brushstrokes. I wasn't exactly sure who she was yet, and I knew that it was just the nature of TV and TV writing that you kind of develop the character over time together with the writers. I think the writers have done a really good job at piecing her development, in having her start at one place and have a direction of a new place to go so it won't get boring for me or hopefully, the audience.
Zoey is the total opposite of Nurse Jackie with her excessively positive demeanor. What would it be like if the roles were reversed and Zoey was the one with the secret drug habit?
For all I know, she does have a secret drug addiction! That's the thing with TV writing -- and it's something that's really fun -- they look at a script and they'll just throw new information at you that you just have to take and say yes to and incorporate. For all I know, if we do a season 3, she'll be more hardcore than Jackie... for all I know.
The debut episode of 'Nurse Jackie' was Showtime's most successful premiere ever. Did you have any idea that the show would be such a hit?
I didn't really have any expectations at all because I didn't know anything about cable network numbers and things like that. It was just enough just getting ready for the show to come out and kind of the new experiences with that, I didn't really think about stuff like viewers. But I'm really, really glad people like it. It would suck if you worked on a show that people weren't watching and didn't like. We work really hard on it. It's nice when people respond. I think it would be pretty demoralizing if we were just getting by, getting renewed by the skin of our teeth. I think it's a really nice pep talk when we heard about those numbers.
Working alongside three-time Emmy winner Edie Falco must be something of a dream. What have you learned working from her?
I think you learn through osmosis with her. Or at least I have. In all honesty, when I'm working with her, I'm trying to be there as much as possible for her, I'm just trying to be there when she needs me to be. If I was spending a lot of time focusing on watching her as another actor, as opposed to working with her, I would probably be tripping up a lot more than I am.
In his role as Dr. Cooper, Peter Facinelli, is simply hilarious.
Isn't he a great character?
Is he as funny off-set as he is when the cameras are rolling?
He has the same kind of harmless intent. It's such a great character, and I know they wrote it for him. The writers had worked on another pilot with him, so they kind of knew his personality and they knew that he could do this. I have to say, he's like doubly enjoyable. He's so good and it's so funny and the writers did such a good job at giving him ridiculousness to do.
How has portraying a nurse on 'Nurse Jackie' affected your feelings toward actual doctors and nurses?
I probably do look at them a little differently. I think I appreciate how hard they work more than I did before and that's not because I didn't believe that they worked hard, I'm so much more aware of it now because of the show.
Have you gotten any backlash from the medical community?
I haven't gotten any flack. I feel like I must have encountered some nurses at 'Nurse Jackie' events and whatnot, but they weren't negative about the show at all. I haven't personally encountered anyone who was offended by it. I think that's unfortunate, I think it's really a show about a specific person who happens to be a nurse. Look at the other characters in this hospital, it's a comedy, it's a dark comedy. It's a TV show. I don't think it's trying to present nurses one way or another, I think it's just trying to investigate a person.
As season 1 ended, viewers began to see Zoey really coming into her own, slowly becoming more confident. How has she evolved in season 2?
Season 2 picks up a couple of months after season 1 left off. So she has kind of grown in leaps and bounds; she's a lot more comfortable. She's looking to get her hands a lot more dirty. She's a little more hardcore, not jaded in the slightest, but kind of chomping at the bit in less of a naive bright-eyed, bushy-tailed way.
We've heard you're a native New Yorker. Are you currently living in New York?
Do you feel that New York City plays its own role on 'Nurse Jackie?'
I think that it comes through in things, like even the extras, never mind locations and exteriors that are literally New York streets. The extras, the people in the background, the guest stars, the actors that come in for an episode, we get those kinds of feels and people because we're working from the New York acting pool and that's a big deal. It's a deep well.
If you could create or introduce a new character into the 'Nurse Jackie' cast, what would you do?
I'm curious, as a person, to as where Zoey comes from. I would much prefer the writers to come up with that answer than myself because they do such a better job at coming up with the strangeness of her. I wouldn't mind knowing where she comes from.
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