The finale of “The Night Shift” is airing on NBC Wednesday night, so what better way to prepare for that than by hearing from someone at the center of it all? Brendan Fehr has been a key player to one of the biggest story arcs all season long, and as we enter the last episode Drew has more at stake than almost anyone as he and Rick are hoping to bring Brianna into their family. Unfortunately, a surprising snag (courtesy of her biological father) threatens to take all of that away.
Below, we have our exclusive interview with Fehr about his arc this season, where he could see things go with the Brianna story, and also his level of confidence in the show’s long-term future.
CarterMatt – So how are you feeling going into the finale? Is there a sense of anxiety or excitement, since you put so much work into making this season?
Brendan Fehr – I think with every show you’re anxious. You put so much time and work in it, and you don’t know how the end product is going to come out. Obviously, after having been on the show for three years, we know a little bit more what to expect. We know that [executive producers] Jeff [Judah] and Gabe [Sachs] really do right by us, so there’s less anxiety there.
You always do want to finish strong, especially with a two-parter. This season I feel pretty confident in every episode we’ve put out there, so I’m more excited than anxious for sure. Obviously, with the [potential] pickup, who knows? Our numbers were so good, we’re the #1 summer show. The fact that we haven’t been picked up … there’s words for it (laughs), but I’ll probably keep those to myself. It’s crazy, but I have confidence in all of us and the show so that the right decision, whatever that is, will be made. It’s out of what we can control, so ultimately you’ve just got to find a way to enjoy the process.
Has this season felt any different to you in terms of the fan reaction? Maybe this is just my own perspective, but it feels to be like there is more social-media discussion and campaigning for another season than there’s been in the past.
Looking at it as an actor on the show, I feel like we really hit our stride this year, everyone from the actors to [the people] behind the cameras to pre and post. I always thought it was a pretty good show, but I think we’re far and away a better show than we were the first two seasons, and that’s nothing against the first two seasons. They were great, but you always want to be getting better and I think we’ve done that. We’ve noticed it, and the fans have noticed it, as well. When you see a show on an upward trajectory, that enthusiasm kind of comes along with it.
We’ve got great fans, and the fact that they’re behind it as much as they are just shows that it was the right decision to renew us and give us that second or third chance, as it were. Now, we’ve really earned it.
I imagine that working on a medical drama can be somewhat chaotic since you’re bouncing around from one story to the next, but this season you’ve had this real touchstone with Brianna. Has it been nice to have that [consistent arc] to play?
It has! They’ve always given me great storylines, both Jeff and Gabe, and I’ve always been appreciative. Obviously with Luke MacFarlane playing Rick and his schedule being one that we can’t use him as much as we want to, bringing someone else into Drew’s life was kind of born out of necessity based on Luke’s schedule and what we were able to do with him.
Bringing Brianna into it felt like a great thing to [give us more of a different side to Drew]. We wanted to get out of the hospital as much as we could, we wanted to explore all of these characters on the show, their lives outside of the hospital. This worked out really well for the show and for the character. It’s been one that I’ve really happy with.
It’s one of those things as an actor. You’re really happy, but then you have this thing where you’re like ‘wait, do they not like me doing the medical stuff? Did I do something wrong? Why don’t they have me doing any more surgery?’ (Laughs.) Ultimately, it’s [a story] that I’ve really appreciated. I obviously know how it turns out, but I can’t wait to see the final product.
At the end of this past episode we saw Drew hitting a roadblock in Brianna’s biological father turning up. Are we going to see him fight, and is there anything he can do to get out of this problem?
That’s the fine line you’re trying to draw when doing a drama: Giving the audience what they want, but not giving them everything they want. We’ve been on that razor’s edge this season, with Drew taking a step forward but kind of taking two steps back and then two [more] steps forward. You’ve got to have these obstacles to overcome; you can’t have everyone living happily ever after since it doesn’t leave you anywhere to go.
With this finale it’s going to leave you with a little bit more of who this guy is and why he’s there; there’s going to be a little bit more revealed about him. Both Drew and Rick find out [more], and it becomes a little a little bit of a game. Drew and Rick don’t see it as a game, though — it’s putting their whole family at risk. When your adversary sees it as something entirely different, you have to [try and] navigate those waters.
How do you think Drew is feeling about the sale of the hospital? It’s looking like there could be something happening there, but is there any anxiety about what could happen to his job?
Obviously with the sale of the hospital going on, that’s something that is going to be weighing on Drew’s mind, as well. We don’t delve into it too much [for him]. Drew has somewhat of a plan B in terms of the military, he’s still active. Rick obviously has a job, and so it’s one of those storylines where you’ve got to figure out what is more important to tell. I think for the show, we have people telling the story of the hospital and its pending sale, as it were, putting all of our jobs in danger. My story, as it turns out, ultimately comes down to Brianna [being] Drew’s first priority. Everything else is secondary, whether it be a job he has to come back to or whether he has to find another one. It’s not as high on the priority list as Brianna is, and that’s what we find him fighting for in the finale.
Should we expect a big cliffhanger at the end of this? Are we going to see people picketing NBC with signs based on how this ends?
I can’t speak for other people. Obviously you want people coming back. It’s always, again, that fine line about how much you give people. We don’t often realize when you have a destination in mind, when you want to see something happen, that you are enjoying the journey. I learned that as a kid playing video games. I only wanted to finish the video game; I was so consumed with finishing the game, and when I finished it there was a fleeting moment of satisfaction, but then there was this disappointment of ‘I don’t get to play this game anymore.’ It was the playing of the game that was so much fun! I think with television, it’s along the same lines. You don’t want to get everything wrapped up in a pretty little bow with nowhere to go.
The cliffhangers, I think they’re high enough cliffs to keep people coming back; you want fans to be complaining that they can’t wait for season 4. I think we do a great job of that. Some of them I think have changed [over time], where we end up in terms of everyone’s cliffhangers. I was talking to Jeff Judah recently in L.A., and due to editing some cliffhangers we originally had eventually morphed into something else. I actually don’t exactly know how everyone’s story is going to end.
Finally, are there are other things that you’re working on during the hiatus, in the event that the pickup happens?
I do have a project coming in New Mexico that I can’t talk about yet, but I’m looking forward to. The other project that I’ve been working on is called ‘Baron and Toluca,’ and it’s with Majandra [Delfino], my ‘Roswell’ co-star. We’ve created the show, and we’re in the process of trying to use social media to make it happen. We’ve done a few things for it. It’s been a project that has been a lot of fun, and it’s sort of reunited me and Majandra, and we’ve had a great time doing it. It’s been a great working relationship. It’s something I’m excited about.
With ‘The Night Shift,’ I can’t see us not going into season 4. I would be extremely disappointed, but I have a feeling we’re certainly coming back. But, as an actor, you’re always trying to keep yourself busy, and there’s no one saying you can’t do two or three things at the same time, so it’s great being out here in Albuquerque. The film community’s really great, and there’s a great crew on ‘The Night Shift’ that work on other things like ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘[Better Call] Saul’ and the rest of it. So being able to mine those resources and get people together to come together and work on small projects, creatively getting to start things from scratch is something that I’ve been doing and I’m looking forward to doing more.
We want to give a special thanks to Brendan for chatting with us about this season of “The Night Shift” – his story arc has been very compelling and we can’t wait to see how it all unfolds. We’re going to have our full review for the finale up later tonight; for now, head over here to get some further coverage of the show, including some other cast interviews. You can also sign up over here to score some other TV news on everything we cover via our official CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: Cathy Kanavy/NBC.)