Jason O’Mara: A Complicated Guy

by Natasha Wolff | June 17, 2015 4:12 pm

In the pilot episode of Complications[1], the new series on USA, ER doctor John Ellison has what could generously be described as a rotten day. After happening upon a drive-by shooting, Ellison saves the life of a young boy only to find himself the next target of a gang bent on vicious conflict—and that’s just in the first hour. 

If anyone’s up for the task of playing a man like Ellis—whose no good, very bad day is really just the latest in a string of devastating events—it’s Jason O’Mara. The Irish-born actor, a veteran of The Good Wife and Vegas who’ll also appear in the upcoming Netflix series Jadotville, has a knack for complex characters and, as he reveals here, no qualms about taking on a project that comes with some surprises. 

You’ve made a lot of pilots. What about Complications was appealing?

I was intrigued because there is nothing else like it on the air. I’ve read my fair share of pilot scripts over the years—in fact, Complications became the 10th pilot that I’ve made—so I’ve had some experience in that area, but I had never read anything like this before. So I called Matt [Nix, executive producer], and we had a chat on the phone and it turned out to be a two-and-a-half-hour phone conversation. I felt like if I didn’t get to work with this guy, at least I would get to be friends with him because we had such a laugh. Based off that conversation, we both felt confident moving forward and wanted to get into bed with each other, as they say.

Why was the character John Ellison interesting? 

I felt such empathy for what he was going through. I suppose when you feel a character coming off the page like that, there’s no one thing that you can point to and say that’s why. It’s sort just a feeling you get when you read the character. I liked him because he was a reluctant hero, and he would never admit to being a hero, but it’s ultimately what he becomes. He’s the guy who runs toward the gunshots when the rest of the crowd is running away. He may do the wrong things, but he’s certainly doing them for the right reasons.

In the first episode, his life changes over the course of one day. Where can the rest of the season go?

I think one of the most interesting things about the series is that you’re dealing with people who can’t use their skill sets for the war that they find themselves in. He’s a doctor, he has no experience of the underworld. Does he change? Yes. Ultimately, he does change. But I didn’t think he was going to change in the way that he does. 

It’s also a chance to star in something with action-movie-style scenes. How do you enjoy that?

It’s a medical drama, it’s a crime thriller and there are moments of actions in terms of car chases, explosions and fights. Still, somehow it all seems to be quite grounded in the real world.  

  1. Complications: https://www.usanetwork.com/complications

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