Tell him about Dawson or not? He must be a little fed up. Especially since he has since interpreted several important roles, in the cinema (Urban legend, The Skulls) but especially on television with Fringe,
The Affair or even recently Little Fires Everywhere. But Joshua Jackson will remain Pacey Witter for many. The surprise will only be greater to discover it in Dr. Death, broadcast since Sunday on Starzplay. The actor plays Dr. Christopher Duntsch, a young, charismatic and apparently brilliant surgeon, whose patients left the operating room mutilated, paralyzed and even dead. An incredible true story, already adapted as a podcast in the United States.
In a role originally intended for Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of grey), Joshua Jackson gives everything, impresses, makes uncomfortable, disables, as the series tries to probe the tortured mind of this doctor of death, and also tells how two colleagues, perfect Alec Baldwin and Christian Slater, decide to stop it at all costs. 20 minutes could not miss the opportunity to interview Joshua Jackson, who has a conscious, intelligent and even committed look at his career and his roles.
What role or series do people, fans and journalists also talk to you about the most? “Dawson”, “Fringe”, “The Affair”, or even “Les Petits Champions”?
May be The Little Champions because it is the oldest, and people have had time to talk about it, to share it. You know, when a work touches people when they’re young, it stays with them all their life. This is the case of Dawson, from Little champions too. But I’m incredibly lucky to have been doing this job for quite a long time, and to have witnessed the different lives of the works on which I worked.
Dawson is a good example. I lived the experience of the first broadcast to the full, with the public who discovered the series. Then she disappeared from the screens, before experiencing a second life. Then a third. I have children of friends who watch Dawson today. It is ultimately a fairly recent phenomenon. In the age of steaming, we no longer “throw away” our pop culture as before. She survives. When I was young, you would watch a show when it came out, then it would almost always disappear, you wouldn’t see it again. This is no longer the case today, people can rediscover these works over and over again.
This makes it possible to realize how “Dawson” shaped the teen series as we know them today, and proposed, with Pacey, another model for boys, for non-toxic masculinity.
Back then, we weren’t talking about toxic masculinity yet, the term didn’t even exist. But it’s true. I don’t know if it’s because creator Kevin Williamson was a gay man who grew up in the southern United States and therefore had a special sensitivity to this toxic masculinity, or because he is a wonderful soul. and sensitive and that it came naturally from him …
And that you were Pacey’s interpreter too, right?
I was raised by women, without a man at home. It gave me a special perspective on what it is to be a young man. I know that from the start Kevin Williamson wanted to overturn gender norms with Dawson, that Joey is the more masculine character, and that Dawson, and of course Pacey, have characteristics usually reserved for women. Looking back, it’s more revolutionary than we were aware at the time. If it helped change pop culture for young teens, before the rest of pop culture did, I am very proud of it.
You’ve played many types of characters in your career, but this is the first time the charming Joshua Jackson hasn’t been so charming anymore.
Not really, no. Not at all even. (laughs)
The series plays with what lies behind this charm, behind the mask.
It’s one of my favorite things about the show, the way creator Patrick Macmanus chooses to tell his story. He could have made Dr. Death, Christopher Duntsch, the devil incarnate, because the end of the story is horrible. But he chooses a more conflictual path and has anchored the character in a culture, a society. Namely that we too often put our trust in the hands of the wrong people. Because they have the cultural appearances that make us believe that they are necessarily good: man, white, powerful, good education, good speech… People immediately give them credit. If they are all these things, they are surely also: reliable, serious, competent …
However, we are finding more and more that this is not the case. One of these problems is toxic masculinity. We have remained blind for too long in the face of this type of behavior, of representations. It was interesting, and important, to have almost “sympathy with the devil”, to show how a young man can become a monster, how such a personality has been fabricated culturally and socially. That it is also our responsibility.
“Dr. Death” avoids the fascination with his antihero, unlike other fictions about serial killers.
We especially didn’t want to be sensationalist, or turn the killer, the villain, into a metaphysical character as we often see. He’s still human. He had a father and a mother, he lived in the context of an era and a culture, all of that helped to create the person he has become. There are also real consequences to his actions.
That’s the problem I have with some action movies from the 1980s and 1990s, where the heroes shoot anything that moves, shoot down planes in the sky, and you never see the consequences. Whereas a bullet going through a body is horrible. Even today, the Avengers destroy half of New York but are presented as heroes in the end. However, millions of characters were in these buildings, it is a disaster of epic proportions. We have tried to tell our story responsibly, which does not prevent it from being mysterious, entertaining, complex.
You play Christopher Duntsch at different times of his life, in different states of mind, was it difficult, fun, both?
Both difficult and exciting. I’ve been an actor for 30 years now, I love immersing myself in a role, having the time to live with the character. That’s why I do this job. But this process can also be very hard. Christopher Duntsch is so out of touch with his actions and their consequences … So I had to shoot scenes where you look straight into the eyes of the victims you just maimed, paralyzed, and you don’t have to express any empathy for them. So it was a very fulfilling experience, but I was also glad it stopped. (laughs)
“Dr. Death” is a series about men, produced by three women.
Showrunner Patrick Macmanus deliberately chose three female directors [Maggie Killey, Jennifer Morrison, So Yong Kim]. At the time, on the set, I especially noticed that they were three talented and accomplished directors. But now that I’ve seen the show, I recognize that since toxic masculinity is at the heart of the story, it was brilliant to get the point of view of women, women who had to deal with different toxic masculinities. in their personal and professional life. The industry has recently gotten better in terms of diversity and inclusiveness, but I wouldn’t say it’s good. There is still a lot of work.
If your character is at the heart of the series, he is not the whole series. There is also this kind of “buddy movie” between Alec Baldwin and Christian Slater.
I would have liked to have had more scenes with them because they are clearly having a great time. (laughs) Who would have known they were going to form such a comedic number, it was impossible to predict. They have such chemistry, they bring out the best in everyone.
“Dr. Death” is part of the medical genre, whose series, from “Grey’s Anatomy” to “New Amsterdam”, are among the most political on television. What do you think ?
(He thinks) I was telling myself that a detective series is also political, in its own way. It does not necessarily claim to be political, but it is. I have the personal conviction that there is no separation between the political and the rest. Everything is political. When in a cop show, the police officer does not act in a heroic way towards those and those he must protect, or twists the system to his advantage, it is political. The medical series are perhaps closer to the surface, and therefore the politics are more visible there, because they are about something very concrete, about our bodies. And the terribly unfair system that can crush them. I’m a Canadian citizen, so I know what a universal health care system is, and I’m always amazed at how inefficient, cruel, and expensive the American system is. How it still benefits a small group of people, who are not the ones who need it most.
Dr. Death implicitly tells us that we need a better, more equitable system. It starts with finding a good doctor. But a doctor is part of a medical system, which itself is part of a legal, political, etc. system. All, in the end, to the detriment of health, of the patient.
Bonus question: Team Pacey or Team Dawson?
Team Pacey of course. Are there other teams? (laughs)