STAGE TO SCREENS: Stage Actor Steven Pasquale Wears Two Masks on TV's "Do No Harm"

By Christopher Wallenberg
09 Feb 2013

Steven Pasquale
Steven Pasquale
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Steven Pasquale, late of Broadway's Reasons to be Pretty and Off-Broadway's The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide, Fat Pig and A Man of No Importance talks about his new Jekyll-and-Hyde-style TV series "Do No Harm."


Dr. Jason Cole should be living the high life. The central character in the new NBC medical-thriller drama "Do No Harm," Cole is a renowned neurosurgeon with a flourishing career. He's regarded as a compassionate and caring doc who's always willing to go the extra mile for a patient. He's handsome, successful, and women fawn over him. There's only one problem — and his name is Ian Price.

Ian is Jason's alternate personality. And every night at 8:25 PM, he rears his charming yet diabolical head. For five years, Ian has been kept at bay thanks to a powerful experimental sedative that Jason injects himself with every evening. But when Jason wakes up disoriented inside a trashed hotel room one morning, he knows Ian is back on the loose. Having built up a resistance to the serum, the sociopathic Ian is determined to exact revenge on Jason for keeping him locked away. What ensues is a no-holds-barred game of cat-and-mouse between the alter-egos.

A modern day twist on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic "Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," "Do No Harm" stars stage veteran Steven Pasquale (pronounced Pahs-QWAL) juggling the dual roles. The actor, who's married to Tony Award-winning actress Laura Benanti (Gyspy), got his start in showbusiness doing musicals — playing Chris in the 1998 American tour of Miss Saigon and starring in productions of A Man of No Importance (Off-Broadway), The Light in the Piazza (regionally) and The Spitfire Grill (Off-Broadway).

While "Do No Harm" marks Pasquale's first lead in a major television series, the 36-year-old actor is no stranger to the medium — having played dim-bulb firefighter Sean Garrity on Denis Leary's cable drama "Rescue Me" for seven seasons (and appearing last year in the "Coma" miniseries and on the sitcom "Up All Night").

Because "Rescue Me" filmed in New York, Pasquale had plenty of time for regular appearances on the New York stage — starring in Neil LaBute's "Reasons to be Pretty" on Broadway and in the 2011 world premiere of Tony Kushner's The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures at the Public Theater.

Next up for this talented actor — if everything falls into place — will be acting opposite Kelli O'Hara in the world-premiere production of the new musical Far From Heaven at Playwrights Horizons this spring. The show had a "preview production" at the Williamstown Theatre Festival last summer, and Pasquale shares that it's actually the first musical he's done in almost 10 years.

Pasquale in Far From Heaven.
photo by T. Charles Erickson

Unfortunately, he may have plenty of time for more theatre in the near future. The premiere episode of "Do No Harm" on Jan. 31 garnered the lowest ratings in history for the debut episode of a new scripted series on the Big Four broadcast networks. It attracted just 3.1 million viewers and a paltry 0.9 rating in the key 18-49 ratings demographic. As this piece was going to press on Feb. 8, NBC cancelled the series.

Pasquale spoke to via phone before hearing the bad news.

"Do No Harm" creator David Schulner said that his pitch to NBC was basically "Dexter" meets "House." What does the series have in common with those two shows?
Steven Pasquale: Well, it's a medical setting, so in terms of "House" it's got a bit of a medical procedural element to it each week. Most every week there's a high-stakes medical case that requires the skill set of Dr. Jason Cole, our hero, inside the hospital. As for "Dexter," the similarity there is that my guy's got to alter-ego named Ian Price who is really conniving and can be malicious and violent and a sexual predator and a drug-addict and a sociopath and kind of an asshole, really. But he's also a master-manipulator and kind of charming. So if we pull it off, the audience will sort of find themselves rooting for Ian and hating themselves for it a little bit.

What drew you to want to play this part?
SP: It was a home-run and an actor's dream to get to play every color on the spectrum. To be this sort of true, earnest, honest, do-gooding hero and then like the ultimate bad boy in the same story. I knew I would get to explore acting muscles that I have not explored before, certainly on camera yet.


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