In MONDAY MORNINGS, TNT Mondays at 10 PM, Alfred Molina’s character plays Dr. Harding Hooten, who is in charge of the weekly Mortality and Morbidity meetings, where the hows and whys of patient deaths are discussed. The series has been adapted by David E. Kelley from Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s book, with both men producing.
Molina has been a TV series regular before, most recently in LAW & ORDER: LOS ANGELES. He’s also known for multiple feature film appearances, including Satipo in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and Dr. Otto Octavius in SPIDER-MAN 2. He’s been on Broadway three times, earning a Tony nomination for each role, and has done a great deal of stage in his native England.
At the Television Critics Association press tour, Molina takes some time to talk about playing Dr. Hooten
ASSIGNMENT X: Were you particularly looking to do something that was made in L.A.?
MOLINA: Yeah, well, I live here, and it’s nice to be able to work at home. And I’ve reached an age where I’ve spent thirty years of my working life living out of a suitcase, going on location or on tour, and now the idea of a job where I can actually go home and have dinner with my wife is actually very pleasant.
AX: Is there anything different about playing somebody who’s in charge of everybody else, versus somebody who’s part of the crew?
MOLINA: No, not really. I mean, whatever character you’re playing, there’s – how shall I put it – a certain responsibility about that role. The fact that he’s the boss is just part of who he is, so you just approach it with as open a mind as possible and just get on with it.
AX: Does Harding have any empathy for the mistakes these doctors who are under him are making?
MOLINA: Oh, very much so. I think the fact that he is so demanding of them proves that he’s empathetic towards them – he wants them to do well. He wants his team to be the best there is. And so part of that is to call them on their mistakes and learn from them. And like a lot of people in charge of important departments, his job isn’t to be everyone’s friend, his job is to be the best boss he can be and to get the best out of the people that are working under him, and I think that’s really what his focus is.
AX: Do we ever see him outside the hospital – do we see his personal life?
MOLINA: We haven’t seen him yet, but we’ve seen the impact of the personal lives of some of the other characters, so if we go to a second season, that may well be a development. We know he’s married, because there’s one episode where he’s dressing down a doctor for a mistake he made when he refers to his wife. So we know he’s married, but we haven’t seen Harding in any social or personal context yet outside of the hospital.
AX: Had you worked with MONDAY MORNINGS creator David E. Kelley before?
MOLINA: Yes, I did three episodes of the last season of HARRY’S LAW, and David and I have known each other a few years. I can’t remember exactly when, but about maybe six, seven years ago, he got in touch with me with a view to talking about a pilot that he was developing at the time. But that I think was a police show – it was a cop show, and the idea was two detectives, a man and a woman, who are not married or involved in any way with each other, apart from just being working partners, but whose relationship is like a dysfunctional marriage. And it struck me as quite an interesting idea, so we had a couple of meetings about that. That never worked out, so when I got the call to come and do HARRY’S LAW, I was very pleased. We didn’t even talk about this then. David came up to me at one point and said, “Are you enjoying working in television?” and I said, “Yes, very much so.” The next thing I know, this arrives, so I was ready for it.
AX: Have you played doctors before?
MOLINA: Not in the States. I did a movie where I played a psychiatrist and that’s about it. I’ve never played a medical doctor.
AX: So were you part of the group that was instructed by executive producer Dr. Sanjay Gupta on how to sew cow brains back together?
MOLINA: Oh, yeah. Well, my character isn’t involved in too many medical procedures. I think you only see Harding twice getting scrubbed up for a procedure, but I was there, and in fact, I was invited to go and see a brain operation, but I’m so queasy, I said, “Don’t worry, I can make it up. That’s my job – I can imagine.”
AX: Is there any difference between working for TNT and a broadcast network?
MOLINA: Not really. I mean, the coal face is the coal face. I’m sure there are differences in terms of the administration and behind the scenes stuff, but that doesn’t really affect us at all.
AX: You toured as Yvan in Yasmina Reza’s ART a number of years ago at the Hartford in Los Angeles. You had a monologue that literally stopped the show for several minutes.
MOLINA: Every actor that played that part, the same thing happened. It was quite amazing. It was a wonderful moment in the theatre.
AX: What would you most like people to know about MONDAY MORNINGS?
MOLINA: It’s a good show, it’s an interesting show, it’s a challenging show, it’s an intelligent show. That’s what I’d like them to know.
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Article: Exclusive interview with MONDAY MORNINGS star Alfred Molina