The hate is officially free to flow like the blood of a Dr. Thackery patient. It’s OK–Eric Johnson gets it. After all, if you’ve stumbled across the prolific actor in one of his several roles as of late, odds are he wasn’t exactly playing a likeable dude. “I guess I’ve just got one of those faces huh?” the Edmonton-born actor jokes to The TV Junkies. He’s a good sport for taking it lightly, especially since the trend continues with his latest role as Dr. Everett Gallinger on Cinemax’s The Knick.
“Life is more interesting in that world,” he explains nonchalantly, proving that the moniker is one that rolls off his shoulder, if not one to be worn with pride. As if to prove the point, the actor’s Twitter bio currently boasts that he’s “That guy you hated on Rookie Blue, used to hate on Smallville and now hate on the The Knick.”
On the surface, it’s easy to see why Dr. Gallinger won’t be winning the title of Fan Favourite any time soon. He’s been sulking his way around the 1900-set Knickerbocker Hospital ever since being passed over for a promotion in the premiere episode in favour of Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland). While Gallinger may be the protégé to Clive Owen’s Dr. John Thackery, the hospital’s main benefactor had other ideas in mind–something that doesn’t sit so well with the racist Gallinger.
So why is Johnson so eager to embrace characters with such despicable traits like Gallinger? “One of the best things about playing the antagonist is you get to momentarily live life in a way that you would never do in your personal life. It’s definitely never boring,” he says.
While Gallinger is unquestionably unlikable in that love-to-hate kind of way, one of the stronger elements of The Knick is the way all of the characters seem to live in a grey area; even those that initially come across as good have proven capable of doing bad things.
“The best writing and characters come from that grey area. That grey area is where all of us live. So no matter who you’re discussing, they have good and bad qualities,” Johnson explains. Does that mean there’s even hope for some good out of Gallinger? “What I hope for the audience is that they will at least understand Gallinger on a deeper level than good or bad, even if they don’t like the choices he makes,” says Johnson.
As for Gallinger’s relationship with Dr. Edwards, and whether he could have a change of heart and ditch his racist ways in the future, fans might not want to count on it any time soon. “Before you know it they’ll be hand in hand singing Ebony and Ivory. Or not. You’ll have to watch,” quips Johnson.
At least Johnson has one thing going for him–aside from the fact that he’s on a hit Cinemax/HBO Canada show with a salacious role. For as much as he’s hated onscreen, it’s a different story offscreen. If the actor’s Twitter interactions during The Knick’s first three episodes are any indication, at least fans aren’t blurring the lines between Johnson and his character’s awful ways.
“It’s exciting to see people’s reactions knowing what is to come. So far nobody has forgot that I’m just an actor saying lines, and that I’m not actually a racist doctor in the year 1900. So Twitter has been much more civil than our operating theater,” he wraps.
Cinemax seems to agree with fans, and gave The Knick a huge vote of confidence with an early Season 2 renewal a month before its premiere. They say a tiger can’t change his stripes, but with a whole new season maybe there’s hope for Johnson and Gallinger yet? Or maybe Johnson is right, and sometimes it’s just much more fun to be bad.
Have you caught The Knick? What’s your take on the show so far? Will Gallinger stay despicable or will we finally see some good out of him? Add your thoughts in the comments below.
The Knick airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on Cinemax and at 11 p.m. on HBO Canada.