“Chicago Med” returns with new episodes this week and it’s been a tough season so far for Dr. Will Halstead, played by Nick Gelfuss, who has been on the show since its inception.
His character recently broke the rules massively but was allowed to return to work on the condition that he acted as a spy, in one form or another, to uncover a hospital bribery scheme. “The beauty of telling long stories like TV and the privilege of having a seventh season is being able to explore that person in different ways,” said Gelfuss. “Will is a good doctor. A great man. He is a lover. But he is also a fighter for what he thinks is best for people, and it is clear at times that what he thinks is best is not what they want for themselves. That’s what he faced a little bit about, and had to work through this divine compound For not being able to save people. But anytime there is an injustice, Will is happy to jump on board. In that case, he wants his job back. And though he doesn’t want to lie to people, it’s for the greater good.”
His seven seasons on the show were career highlights that allowed him to take root in the city. When asked to reflect on a moment from the other end of the spectrum, he said, “I think every actor has one of these stories. If not, you’re in luck.”
My worst moment…
I got a call from my manager: ‘Nick, I have an audition for you. Shakespeare had In The Park, “The Merchant of Venice,” and Al Pacino was playing Shylock. This is 2010. I was living in New York. I’m a classically trained actor, I have BFA in theater and MFA, and what comes with all that theater training is studying Shakespeare. So I’m ready for this. And maybe work with Al Pacino? That’s amazing. I’m going to get this out of the garden!
“So I went to the audition and I’m waiting in the hallway. I’m so excited. And next thing you know, I’m in the room saying hello to everyone…and then I froze. I literally don’t remember the lines.”
And this was a monologue I had memorized. I wasn’t going to bring in any aspects (his part of the script) because I was going to show them I could memorize all of this. Except as every good actor learns, you always go in with the script in your hands because a) it gives the illusion that no matter how hard you work on exam preparation, it’s not a finished product and you’re still moldable and instructable, and b) if you step up (and forget your lines) you’ll find it there for your reference.
(laughs) So I didn’t have anything to point out, because I was a cowboy I didn’t bring the script with me. And they said, ‘It’s okay, take all the time you need.’
And at that point, I started shivering. And they could see it, it was so clear. And then when I tried to go again, I froze. And I’m telling you, I knew the monologue was cold. So they gave me a few lines and I said, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah,’ Thank you very much.”
“You hate being asked. But what I didn’t tell you was what I had in mind, because I was. road So far ahead of my thought, Oh my God, Al Pacino and I are going to work together! I can’t believe I’m going to meet this guy! We will be best friends! He will love me! We will hang out! But also: I can’t fail this! This is a great opportunity! This is what I went to in school and my family will be very happy!
“This was all on my mind when I should have focused on my one-on-one talk.
“So what happened in the end was I didn’t get past it. And they said, ‘That’s fine, we’ve seen enough.’” We’re fine, you’re fine. happy to see you.’ This is basically the equivalent of: “I blew it.”
“It was the worst audition I’ve ever had. I think they had to re-found that room because I was shaking a lot.
Jesse Tyler Ferguson of ‘Modern Family’ finally got the role. Even if I did my best, they might still want to go with him. But here’s an example, no matter how prepared I am, I ruined myself. I broke the basic rule of acting which is : Stay present. And what could have been: Nick, you’re auditioning, so tell the story and don’t think of Pacino, he’s too far from this! So I missed a chance because of that and the actors know you just get a lot of chances. And I don’t know if you I would be able to work with Al Pacino, but that was the moment I could have had.
“You always wrestle with your mind. I got way too far from myself. You will never make that mistake again, I will tell you.”
“I would say 90% of my brain was thinking about Al Pacino. But it was also a tension. I was putting too much stock in everything and was paranoid about every little thing I did because I didn’t want to spoil the opportunity. And when you exercise that much of Putting pressure on yourself, you are doomed to fail. It’s a recipe for disaster. Some people may do well under such extreme pressure but not me.
“I told my boss about it and she said, ‘Well, it won’t happen again, right? Don’t let this happen again. And she was right. Maybe I didn’t sleep that night. And I drank at the time of my life, so I probably had a few drinks and just kept whipping myself up. Then my boss said, “Well, you have 24 hours to come to terms with this and groan about this. Then we go back to work and continue with some other tests. You can’t keep thinking about this.”
How did Gehlfuss get on his nerves to audition for “Chicago Med”?
“It’s been about five years and I wouldn’t let that happen again. I originally auditioned for the role of a police officer on ‘Chicago PD’ a year or two before I even heard about ‘Med.’ And they said, ‘I’m sorry, you did a great job’ But you’re a lot like someone on our show now and we have to go with a different look.” But I felt really good about the audition, so I made peace with that and got in touch.
Well, two years later, my director got a call from Jonathan Strauss—the casting director of all Dick Wolfe items to whom I will forever be indebted—he heard about Mead and the first role they wanted the cast was a brother to a detective on PD and he said. Jonathan, “Hey, remember this guy who looks like this other guy? Now you want someone to play his brother? What if we offered Nick the role since you loved his job? The casting director submitted my name, so I didn’t even have to audition.
“So this is a prime example of, you never know when a test will lay the groundwork for another opportunity.”
“You can be as prepared as possible and yet still get in your way and sabotage your talents and any chance of moving forward. And this is not just limited to the entertainment industry. The mind is very powerful and we can be critical of ourselves. Negativity can appear in an instant and become so toxic that you just can’t Get out of it and it will never allow you to grow and prove your full potential.
“So it has to happen at some point. You have to have these failures to grow. We only grow if we fail, right? So I just had to make sure it didn’t happen again. Why learn a lesson like this again?”
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