Oliver Platt has worked in Chicago a number of times over the years, but the actor says one reason he’s delighted to be starring in the new “Chicago Med” series (premiering at 8 p.m. Tuesday, WMAQ-Channel 5) is the chance to get to know Our Town better.
“On a personal level, that’s one of the really exciting parts of this particular job. In the past, working a movie, I would take advantage of my days off to fly home to New York to be with my family. … Certainly, I’m obviously commuting with this experience too, but not so much,” said the actor, who explained how last weekend, “I spent a lot of time hanging out in Grant Park and Millennium Park, getting to know ‘The Bean,’ as it’s affectionately called, or ‘Cloudgate.’ ”
Anish Kapoor’s iconic sculpture, he said, “is such a spectacular piece of public art because of the way it is naturally interactive with the public. Usually when you say ‘interactive,’ you’re talking about technology, but that’s not the case here. People are drawn right into like a huge magnet. I think because people see Chicago reflected all around themselves. … I’m totally blown away by it.”
For Platt, who has lived and traveled all over the globe, “Millennium Park is such a revelation to me. Things like those sensational video obelisks and that incredible sound field — I mean, all of it is perhaps the most impressive display of public art in any city I’ve ever seen.”
Turning to “Chicago Med,” Platt said it’s intriguing to be the third show in executive producer Dick Wolf’s “Chicago” franchise — playing psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Charles, a character he first introduced on Wolf’s “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago PD.”
Platt laughed about playing the same character on three related but separate series. “I sort of backed into getting my own Dick Wolf show, didn’t I?” he said. He noted that medical dramas have a long, often successful history in television — including the earlier locally themed “E.R.” and “Chicago Hope.”
“Listen, truth be told, if we just did a good old medical procedural show — and did it well — I’d be happy,” said Platt. “But to do it with the Dick Wolf brand is a pretty impressive place to start. Between stories ripped from the headlines or storylines based on things going on in public health in this country today, we have plenty to work with.
“Besides, a wise person said a long time ago, ‘On a slow day there is more drama going on in a big-city hospital than in any other building in any given city.’ ”
On top of all that, Platt finds it interesting to be part of a medical show where one of the main characters — his own Dr. Charles — is a psychiatrist. “I’m not exactly a student of medical shows down through the years, but I don’t think we’ve seen a psychiatrist front and center in this kind of show. You don’t see a psychiatrist roaming hospital hallways or in the [emergency room].
“Usually, whenever we see a psychiatrist in a film or on TV, he’s in a room or wood-paneled office. And there’s almost always a couch involved!”