‘The Night Shift’ exclusive: Robert Bailey Jr. on Paul and Shannon, upcoming episodes, season 4 hopes
Wednesday night is proving itself to be a big one for “The Night Shift” on NBC, and for so many reasons. Not only are you going to get a chance to watch two new episodes, but they will be particularly emotional ones for many reasons as you see some characters balance difficult challenges both out in the field and back in the hospital.
So who better to break things down than someone who was a part of the whole experience? We chatted earlier this week with Robert Bailey Jr. about his role as Paul, what is coming in these episodes and beyond, and how his character will be dealing with the recent developments with Shannon. In the end, we also talk a little bit about the show’s season 4 chances.
CarterMatt – What do you think about Paul’s evolution as a character over the first three seasons?
Robert Bailey Jr. – I was [joking earlier about] how Paul started out in season 1 as the butt of Kenny’s jokes, and now Paul in season 3 is [still] the butt of Kenny’s jokes (laughs). It has been really fun to see his growth in the hospital otherwise. He’s got a lot more responsibility, he’s a big-time surgeon now. A lot of his drama on the show is about making change happen and trying to save lives, which is not often the case. He’s been kind of very timid in the past.
I think you’ve seen him grow a lot over the course of the seasons but especially this season, just to see [things] maturity-wise and responsibility-wise. I’m very excited to see where things are going. He was a very a comical character. The first season a lot of the comedy came from Paul and his awkwardness. He’s certainly still there, but he’s also much more mature and more grounded as a man and as a doctor. I’m excited to see [where it goes from here].
How do you think that Paul is handling being a doctor at such a young age? Do you think he is handling the pressure of it well?
Back in season 2 we were introduced to Paul’s father, who is one of the most famous surgeons in the world, which is obviously a lot of pressure to grow up in your father’s shadow, especially when he is the best in the position you are pursing. So, he’s dealt with that pressure all of his life, but I think [change] has been him starting to hear affirmations from all of his peers, and them recognizing how talented he is, what a great doctor he is. I think it’s further accelerated his growth, and he’s ready to be the doctor he is rather than what his father wants him to be. That’s kind of what his journey is, and that’s going to play a huge factor in the final few episodes, what he’s becoming and what his father expects of him. It’s kind of a huge element going forward.
Where do you think things stand at the moment with Paul and Shannon?
So last I heard, I got dumped, and that’s always a lot of fun! I think you’ve seen that whether they are butting heads or working together, there is a lot of chemistry between the two. Paul and Shannon — there’s always something there! I think one or the other wants to write it off as a work romance they shouldn’t be getting involved in. It’s going to be hard to simply walk away from it that easily. It’s not quite the end of it yet. They’ll keep circling around each other and kind of getting involved, maybe not. It’s definitely not going to be smooth sailing here on out because they are two different people, and it will be interesting to see where that goes moving forward because Tanaya [Beatty] and I have so much fun playing around. We have a blast working together. It lends itself to a lot of fun on the screen.
So regardless of whether we are together or not, I think people are going to have fun watching us figure it out.
You mention that Paul and Shannon don’t have that much in common. Do you think they could be a good match? Opposites attract…
I think they balance each other out in really amazing ways, but I don’t think they recognize that because they’re really focused on where they don’t [gel]. In certain ways it’s always nice to meet someone who covers your faults and vice-versa. I think they do that for each other really well. They have such different personalities that it’s going to be hard for them to figure that out. I think there’s going to be a lot of drama before they come to the conclusion that they are good for each other. We’ll see if they get there or not.
We’re getting two episodes on Wednesday, and I know one of the big stories is Paul and TC heading out to a construction site [to handle an accident]. Is there anything that you can say about that?
So for the first episode TC and I go out into the field, where there’s this action at the site. There are actually two different actions that they’re dealing with, and I can only say that there may be serious implications as far as finding lungs for Brianna, the character that Drew has been taking care of. We’re kind of on a mission over the two hours to find her a new set of lungs, and I get seriously involved in that mission, so we get to see where that goes.
It’s a big, action-packed two-hour episode, and there’s a lot of humor involved. We’re really just trying to save Brianna’s life, and some other lives that get caught up in the accident. We’ll see where that goes.
Is it fun for you to do some work in the field? Does it give you a chance to flex different muscles than on-set?
Paul went out a couple of times this year. He went out for the riot episode, which was really intense and we had more than 300 background artists working. He’s been a part of some really big set pieces, which speaks a lot to the amount of trust the [team] may have in him this season. He’s got a lot of responsibility, and he’s handling himself rather well at taking on large roles. I’ve been really excited to see that in the script; it’s not always the most fun to shoot because a few of them require we shoot all night and I like to nap, so that’s never pleasant for me. But it is fun to be able to have more responsibility and like you were saying, it’s fun to play those different sides of Paul, who was always the guy. To be able to step up to the plate when things get intense is really awesome. It’s awesome to represent that.
I know you can’t say much on the finale, but are you particularly excited about people being able to see it?
I am extremely excited because I think people have been very impressed by us this season. I think we’ve grown immensely, and I don’t think people were expecting us to be so big and so intense every episode. We’ve been coming with that quite a bit this year, and I have to say that even with all of that, I don’t think people are expecting us to go out the way that we’re going to out. It’s really shocking, really surprising. I think people are going to be shocked. When I read it, I was like ‘whoa.’ I actually didn’t see it coming. I think people are going to have a really similar reaction.
Overall, I’m really proud of the work we’ve done this season, and I want everyone to see the entire story and have that out in the world, since it was a really amazing experience for me to shoot.
Finally, how are you feeling right now about the show’s season 4 chances? I know NBC hasn’t announced much yet.
I’m extremely hopeful. I think anytime we’re talking about coming back together to work, we all get excited because we love each other that much. Whether it’s Gabe Sachs, our creator, or the cast or the crew. It really genuinely is a family vibe. I think everyone is excited about the prospect of coming back and being able to inhabit these characters and tell their stories. It’s like going to camp and being able to tell these stories every day. Honestly.
I think we have a lot more story to tell. I think we continually get better every year, and we want to keep that train rolling. We can only imagine what sort of stories we’ll be telling next year.
A very special thank to Robert for spending some time chatting with us about “The Night Shift” – a show that we really enjoy watching and covering here at CarterMatt. You can check out a quick preview for tonight’s episodes below, and be sure to head over here for some further coverage of all things “The Night Shift”! Also, sign up over here to score some other TV news on all we cover, sent right over to you via our CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: NBC.)