A Modern Jekyll & Hyde with NBC’s Do No Harm

Steven Pasquale in Do No Harm, photo by Matthias Clamer/NBC

There’s a deep, dark secret that compassionate neurosurgeon Dr. Jason Cole (Steven Pasquale)is hiding. Jason has a dangerous alternate personality, Ian Price, who has been suppressed for years. But now drugs can no longer contain him, and Ian is hell-bent on taking revenge on the good doctor in the new series Do No Harm which recently premiered on NBC.

The show also stars Alana De La Garza (Law & Order), Michael Esper (A Beautiful Mind), Ruta Gedmintas (The Borgias), Lin-Manuel Miranda (House), and Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show).

The thriller puts a modern spin on the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story. It’s not just another procedural show. It’s an exciting twist on the split personality concept with a breakout character at the center. Pasquale is best known for his seven year stint as fireman Sean Garrity on the acclaimed FX series Rescue Me. And Broadway theater goers know he created the role of Fabrizio in the Tony winning musical Light in the Piazza. Now Pasquale is bringing light to the dark side in his dual role.

Executive producer and writer David Schulner (Desperate Housewives) says he wrote a show that he wanted to watch. He admits it’s a high-concept premise, but set in a very grounded world. “Ultimately I wanted it to be at thrilling roller coaster ride. And I wanted it to have stakes. I wanted the love story between Steven’s character and Alana’s character to be the center of this. I wanted it to be dangerous and sexy. Hopefully the audience will sit back and strap in for the ride.”

The two different personalities, good guy Jason and bad boy Ian, are played by Pasquale with subtle skill. Pasquale explains, “We decided we didn’t want to do the classic thing where one guy’s like a monster and really violently different than the other guy. We wanted them to have a gray area behaviorally for when all the other characters intersect. It’s really interesting for the audience, because then the audience knows that it’s Jason or Ian, but the other people don’t. Of course they’re wired completely different and they have completely different personalities, but behaviorally speaking, you wouldn’t know that.”

Schulner says, “Ian’s a little bit like a cat. The cat wants to play with that mouse. He doesn’t want to kill it because what fun would that be?  So Ian’s going to do a lot of stuff to Jason. And Jason is just as smart as Ian. sometimes he’s two steps ahead of Ian, so there are traps and safeguards in place. It’s a constant cat and mouse chess game. Ian is not toothless. There’s a true danger to him. He’s truly menacing, and that’s why Jason’s character needs to get rid of him. There’s always a real threat of something going very dark. Whether or not it happens will remain to be seen, but certainly that’s where all of the tension lies.”

The pitch to the network was simple, Schulner reveals. “Honestly, I think it was, ‘Do you like Dexter?  Do you like House? This is House meets Dexter.’ Have you ever heard of a book called ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?’ That was it. And it’s weird to hear it’s an unusual premise because it seems so classic. It’s such a part of our literary history. The quotes in the book are amazing. There are beautiful lines like ‘My devil had long been caged and it came out roaring.’ So we’ve used a lot of stuff straight from the source and tried to incorporate that into the series.”

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.