Code Black‘s Benjamin Hollingsworth talks to Megan about Wednesday’s harrowing episode.
Remember when NBC’s E.R. would crank out a very special, everything-goes-wrong episode (like when a helicopter fell on Dr. Romano, after it already took his hand!)? Well, that’s every episode of CBS’s Code Black, where every day at Angels Memorial Hospital is disastrous. (“Code Black” signifies a hospital that is overcrowded with patients and understaffed with resources.)
Benjamin Hollingsworth plays Mario Savetti on the series, and in November 2’s episode titled “Landslide,” you guessed it, a landslide sends an influx of patients to the Los Angeles hospital. But one patient Savetti doesn’t count on seeing is his father, played by Eric Roberts, who returns after appearing in the episode “Life and Limb.”
I had a chance to speak with Hollingsworth about this episode, what’s in store for Mario, and whether my favorite character will survive.
Mario is a little rough around the edges. Do you think this episode will give audiences more perspective on why he is the way he is?
I don’t think you’ll get a full dictionary about Mario, but you definitely get to see him deal with how he responds to his father.
How do you tackle playing a character that’s not necessarily always likable? That has to be challenging as an actor.
It’s both challenging and rewarding, to not have to worry about the way your character is perceived. I think sometimes you get hung up trying to make your character likable. Real people aren’t always likable. A character like Mario doesn’t have the same social awareness. He doesn’t care what people think of him. It’s actually freeing.
What was it like working with Eric Roberts in this episode?
He’s such a powerful actor, one that’s been around for a very long time. He’s magnetic. He brings something that I really get to play off of. You see this connection that a father and a son have, both of them want the same thing. Eric has a very charming, charismatic way of playing Vince. I think it’s going to make for great TV.
Mario and his father both have a history with substance abuse. Do you think that’s something he’s even more resentful of, being that he shares this quality with his father?
Of course. It’s something Mario resents that his father wasn’t more of a role model for him. Maybe he’s better off for it. I don’t know if Mario believes this, but I believe that the best lessons are learned the tough way. What’s part of what makes Mario so interesting is that he’s a lot like the patients he sees come in to the hospital. He’s never had a silver spoon lifestyle.
In “Life and Limb,” the episode Mario’s father appears in, Mario also treats a patient who’s a transgender woman. Why do you think he connects with her?
He sees her as someone that’s been misunderstood by society, that has had to struggle. I think that’s Mario’s fight, too. He puts up a lot of borders with people.
What else is in store for Mario this season? Can you give us any sneak peeks?
Richard Lewis comes in and Mario’s paired with him. And also an interesting relationship develops between him and Dr. Noa Kean (Emily Tyra).
What about the bromance between Angus (Harry Ford) and Mario?
Of course! Harry Ford and I have a lot of fun playing those scenes out. As characters on the show, we’re kind of frenemies.
You had that nice little moment with him in “Demons and Angels” when you told him to stand up to his father (Angus’s brother is currently in a coma on the show). Speaking of which, Mike Leighton (Tommy Dewey) is my favorite character. Can you tell me anything about his future? (In “Demons and Angels,” it ends with some signs of life for Leighton.)
I can’t. You’ll have to tune in to see.
Code Black airs on CBS on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET.