By BILL HARRIS
Special to The Lede
There’s good medicine everywhere on the busy and buzzing Montreal set of TRANSPLANT, an exciting new medical drama coming to CTV in 2020. The series stars Hamza Haq as Dr. Bashir “Bash” Hamed, a Syrian doctor with battle-tested skills who is forging a new life in Canada, both professionally and personally.
But just how “battle-tested” are the six main cast members when it comes to blood, and needles, and all that gory medical stuff in real life?
Hamza Haq (Dr. Bashir “Bash” Hamed): “I'm not squeamish at all, not even a little bit. I mean, back when they used to have that show FEAR FACTOR, there might have been a couple of things with bugs. But as far as these medical things, no. I follow some great medical feeds on Instagram where people show surgeries. Growing up watching so many Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, you get desensitized to seeing protruding bones.”
John Hannah (Dr. Jed Bishop): “I haven't had any dodgy turns on this yet, but I have a bit of a history of fainting that I may not have told the producers about. I actually fainted watching the opening sequence of Pet Sematary - not the new one, the old one. There was a crash right at the beginning. I was with my girlfriend, who is now my wife, and my flatmate at the time. And I went right to the bathroom and fainted! I got very dizzy and almost banged my head on the toilet when I went down. I laid there and I thought, 'They'll be in here in a minute to get me' … and ... nothing. I was like, 'What the hell, guys?' Nobody got worried, nobody noticed, they were quite wrapped up in the movie. And I had another fainting thing on a TV show that I did, it was a night shoot, so it was dark, we jumped out of the back of a truck, we were robbing a bank, and I fell because the ground was wet and I cut my hand. I got up and finished the take - professional actor, of course - but then right afterward, when I actually could see my hand, I'm still holding this gun, there was blood all over it, and, well, I had another funny turn there.”
Laurence Leboeuf (Dr. Magalie “Mags” Leblanc): “Uh, not good. In real life, especially with blood stuff, I really have to talk to myself and reason it out. I have to lie down, I can't look at it, I try to find tricks to deal with it. And watching things on screen, I'm not good with that either, any of the stuff that's inside the body, no, can't take it. But it's funny, for me doing it seems easier than watching it. When I'm acting, I get into a certain mode or something, I can focus, and I'm not cringing as much when I'm the one actually doing it. Now, I could never do it for real, I'm only talking about doing it when it's fake. And even then, if I stop to think about it, then it gets to me. But it's not quite the same feeling.”
Jim Watson (Dr. Theo Hunter): “In general my hypochondria has gone through the roof, if we're going to be honest. My general fear of everything has skyrocketed because of this show. The hardest part is being around the actual medical instruments and just desensitizing myself to it, as someone who has ardently avoided hospitals throughout his life."
Tori Higginson (Nurse Claire Malone): “I find with the stuff we're doing here, we'll be working on an actor who's playing a patient, and we will have to be very cautious and careful as far as putting pretend needles in them, and pretending to do heart compressions. When you're doing a heart compression on a real actor, you can't put too much pressure on there, because you could hurt their rib cage, so all of a sudden it becomes a real core workout - I've discovered that nurses are very strong! But then with the extraordinary prosthetics they've created here, when the prosthetic gets put in, and the camera's looking right at the prosthetic, I find I'm not creeped out by that … as long as I know it's the prosthetic.”
Ayisha Issa (Dr. June Curtis): “Did someone tell you about this, is that why you're asking me? No? Okay, I'll tell you. I have a massive phobia of needles, to the point where I avoid anything that requires a blood test. I'm that person who completely avoids the hospital, if people I know are sick, I cannot go visit them. It's really intensely uncomfortable and anxiety-provoking for me. So this show actually has been a fantastic opportunity, because it's a form of exposure therapy. But funny enough, I'm the only person who keeps getting the gigantic needle scenes! Gigantic! I asked them the other day if they were just messing with me, and they assured me it's completely by fluke, but I don't know.”