Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Matt Czuchry in THE RESIDENT - Season 2 - "Stupid Things in the Name of Sex" | ©2019 Fox/Guy D'Alema

Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Matt Czuchry in THE RESIDENT – Season 2 – “Stupid Things in the Name of Sex” | ©2019 Fox/Guy D’Alema

In Season 2 of Fox Network’s Monday-night drama THE RESIDENT, Chastain Park Memorial Hospital continues to be the site of some doctors doing their best to heal patients, and others doing their best to conceal malpractice.

Malcolm-Jamal Warner is a series regular as Dr. AJ Austin on THE RESIDENT this season, after appearing on three episodes in Season 1. Originally from New Jersey, Warner has appeared in a wide range of both comedies and dramas, including GIRLFRIENDS’ GUIDE TO DIVORCE, Amazon Prime’s SNEAKY PETE (as James Bagwell), TEN DAYS IN THE VALLEY, SUITS, REED BETWEEN THE LINES, MALCOLM & EDDIE (he was also on a producer and director on the latter two), and the voice of the Producer in THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS. He is still beloved for his Emmy-nominated work as a young actor on THE COSBY SHOW as Theo Huxtable; in his later years on the comedy, Warner directed eleven episodes.

At a party thrown by Fox Network for the Television Critics Association (TCA), Warner sits down to talk about what’s up with his doc.

ASSIGNMENT X: What can you tell us about Dr. AJ Austin?

MALCOLM-JAMAL WARNER: They call me “the Raptor.” I’m a top cardio-thoracic surgeon, and a bit of an ass.

AX: How much of an ass compared to, say, Bruce Greenwood’s character, the toxic Dr. Randolph Bell?

WARNER: He has more power than me, so he probably beats me in the “ass” category.

AX: But does AJ have a similar attitude toward covering up his own mistakes?

WARNER: Actually, no. The difference is, I’m an ass because I am the best at what I do. So there’s a level of arrogance and wanting people around me to come up to my level of excellence. So I’m one of the good guys.

AX: Heart surgeons are often viewed as being be arrogant, so you’re just sort of confirming that particular stereotype …

WARNER: [laughs] Yeah. But most of my work is with Mina Okafor [played by Shaunette Renee Wilson]. I’m trying to make her my protégé, so I’m really hard on her, because I’m trying to get her up to my level.

AX: And had you played a doctor or a surgeon before this?

WARNER: This is my first time playing a surgeon, and my first time playing a medical doctor.

AX: Had you played a different kind of doctor?

WARNER: English professor.

AX: Somebody who had a doctorate, but not a “doctor-doctor” …

WARNER: Yeah.

Bruce Greenwood, Shaunette Renée Wilson, Emily VanCamp, Matt Czuchry, Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Manish Dayal in THE RESIDENT - Season 2 - "Stupid Things in the Name of Sex" | ©2019 Fox/Miranda Penn Turin

Bruce Greenwood, Shaunette Renée Wilson, Emily VanCamp, Matt Czuchry, Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Manish Dayal in THE RESIDENT – Season 2 – “Stupid Things in the Name of Sex” | ©2019 Fox/Miranda Penn Turin

AX: Did you have to learn anything or do any kind of hands-on research to look convincing doing the surgeries?

WARNER: Fortunately, this show is shot and edited so well [laughs]. But I have a dear friend who’s a trauma surgeon, so there are people that I would go to, to get pronunciation, or get an understanding of what an aortic dissection is, just get those things so I have a good understanding of what I’m talking about, and not just spouting words.

AX: Before you got involved with THE RESIDENT, were you aware that medical malfeasance was quite so common?

WARNER: Yeah. Unfortunately, I’ve had a person close to me who actually just experienced something like that, so the show really hit close to home.

AX: Was the depiction of doctors trying to sweep mistakes under the rug one of the reasons you wanted to become involved with THE RESIDENT?

WARNER: No, it wasn’t that. When I actually auditioned for the show, and booked it, I hadn’t seen the pilot yet, so I didn’t really know a whole lot about the show. So once I booked it, the show had not aired yet, but I looked at the pilot, and from the pilot, I got a better sense that the show was really tackling those kinds of malpractice issues, and the cover-ups.

AX: Besides being professionally interested in Dr. Okafor, is AJ romantically interested in her as well, or does that remain to be seen?

WARNER: It remains to be seen. We’re not playing that at all. But what was really interesting in watching a lot of the o.r. scenes, we’ve got masks on, so we’re really only seeing the eyes. And there’s a really interesting underlying energy that you see between these two characters that neither Shaunette nor I are playing. But as a viewer, it’s something very engaging and unspoken.

AX: Have you had to do acting that’s just with your eyes and your forehead before?

WARNER: I have not [laughs].

AX: How is that as an acting challenge?

WARNER: When you’re doing it, I think you’re not really thinking about it, so I think what I was impressed by was actually watching it, and seeing how much comes across with just your eyes.

AX: And is there anybody that AJ does turn on the charm for, or is he like, “All of you are dummies, and you need to do what I tell you”?

WARNER: Pretty much. Conrad, actually. He has a great respect for Conrad.

AX: And do you have any other projects going on that we should know about?

WARNER: I’m doing this, and I’m also going back to Season 3 of SNEAKY PETE.

AX: How are you enjoying that?

WARNER: I love that role. That was actually my favorite role up until THE RESIDENT.

Malcolm-Jamal Warner as Dr. AJ Austin in THE RESIDENT - Season 2 | ©2019 Fox/Miranda Penn Turin

Malcolm-Jamal Warner as Dr. AJ Austin in THE RESIDENT – Season 2 | ©2019 Fox/Miranda Penn Turin

AX: Are the schedules for THE RESIDENT and SNEAKY PETE completely different, or are you having to fly back and forth?

WARNER: They’re working it out. Fortunately, the productions are talking to one another.

AX: And what would you most like people to know about THE RESIDENT Season 2?

WARNER: Ah. That the show is still unwavering in depicting hospital mess-ups and cover-ups.

Related: THE RESIDENT: Manish Dayal on Season 1 of the new Fox medical series
Related: 
THE RESIDENT: Merrin Dungey talks Prime Time healthcare – exclusive interview

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Article: THE RESIDENT: Malcolm Jamal-Warner chats Season 2 of Fox medical drama THE RESIDENT – Exclusive Interview

 

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