It hasn’t surprised Welsh actor Tom Ellis that his character on the new USA Network series “Rush” gets compared to the role Hugh Laurie played on “House, M.D.” Both are brilliant doctors saddled by a severe drug problem, played by actors from the United Kingdom.
But that is where the comparisons end.
“I know there always will be people who want to compare the shows. The difference is that while both shows are about doctors, ‘Rush’ is more about Rush’s world, his relationships with his friends, with his father. I think that once people start to watch the comparisons will stop. But I don’t mind it if people need an easy reference point to remember the show,” Ellis says.
“Rush” follows renegade physician Dr. William P. Rush (Ellis) who prefers house calls to hospitals. He’ll fix any medical problem of the rich and famous as long as they are willing to pay his hefty bill — in cash. The former ER doctor lives out of a hotel suite and travels Los Angeles in a vintage Mercedes.
“It’s a dark show but I’m having a lot of fun making it,” Ellis says.
Sarah Habel plays Rush’s devoted assistant Eve, while Odette Annable portrays former flame Sarah, who makes Rush consider his renegade ways.
Ellis isn’t sure if Rush — who has an enormous ego and no social filters — is self-destructive or just has a passion for living. What he has figured out is that Rush believes he can “just aquaplane through life.”
Ellis had to find the right amount of unlikability.
“When you play a character like this, you have to love the character yourself. There has to be something about him you love,” Ellis says. “There must be a justification in your head, a reason why he does what he does. That’s the only way to sympathize with him. A lot of Rush’s charm comes from the way he deals with a situation. Humor goes a long way in winning people over.”
Some of that humor comes from the character’s horrible taste in music. Rush is a huge fan of 1980s music, but has trouble listening to it because his car CD player constantly skips.
Having music as a part of the character works for Ellis, who has created playlists for every role he’s played. The 35-year-old actor has a long list of acting credits, many on British TV series such as “The Fades” and “Merlin.” His film credits include “Buffalo Soldiers” and ‘Vera Drake.”
Of all his work, the job that earned him the most attention is an episode of “Doctor Who.” Ellis received more fan mail from that one episode than any other acting job he’s had, including the popular British series “Miranda.”
“Rush” airs at 9 p.m. today on USA Network.