After receiving a script from her agent late one Thursday afternoon, actress Jill Flint had little knowledge of what was to come. With four short hours until her audition, an interest in the take-charge character and a bit of luck, the very next day Flint landed the lead role as Jordan Alexander on NBC’s new medical drama The Night Shift. The premiere had the highest NBC summer drama series ratings in five years and averaged over 6.5 million viewers throughout the season.
Flint headed straight for New Mexico to begin shooting the following Monday, and her days were immediately filled with meetings, homework and playing catch-up. “The cast already knew each other, they already met, and I was the new kid on the block,” says Flint. “It was probably one of the coolest experiences in my career because I didn’t have time to think about it—I sort of just jumped in.”
On the same day that NBC renewed The Night Shift for a second season, DuJour caught up with Flint, who shared her on and off-set experiences, her surprising intolerance for blood and the eventful transition to life in New Mexico.
What’s the most appealing part of playing your character, Jordan Alexander? How are you and the character similar? Different?
Well, the difference is this: I could never make it in a hospital. I don’t do needles, I don’t do blood, I don’t like sickness and death terrifies me. What I really liked about Jordan was that she doesn’t take no for an answer, she doesn’t back down—it’s not an arrogance; it’s just that she truly believes in working hard enough.
You often see women who are attached to the male lead and they sort of become an accessory. What I liked about Jordan is that her character stands alone and around [her boyfriend]. This is someone who is really working for what she wants.
Have you picked up any medical knowhow or lingo?
I’m not really comfortable with blood and guts, but I find that world absolutely fascinating. I mean obviously there’s something to it that attracts me because I also played a hospital administrator in Royal Pains, but on this show I actually get to do all of the fun stuff. It’s exciting and thrilling in that I have to face all of these things that make me uncomfortable, which I really enjoy.
You have a family with military background—your brother specifically, correct?
Yes, my brother served in the army. He went to Iraq and he’s military police.
Did that have any influence on your choice to pursue the role?
I didn’t think in terms of my relationship with my brother and family. I was excited about the fact that [the show] did have a military aspect to it, but it wasn’t the main factor that brought me in. I did find it to be an attractive part of the script, but as the show evolved and you see more and more of it come in, there have been some bittersweet moments.
You guys shoot in New Mexico, which is far from your home base of Brooklyn. How do you like it?
It’s crazy! It takes a little getting used to when you move anywhere, but New Mexico is just so beautiful, so photogenic. Having been in New York City for 20 years, I’m used to having no space. In New Mexico, I have a backyard; I rented a house with three bedrooms just because. Also, I got my drivers license literally three days before I moved to New Mexico. My first time driving by myself was in a completely different city. There are roadrunners in the middle of Albuquerque, and the first one I saw, I ran over! It ran in front of my car, and I couldn’t stop in time—it committed suicide. It was the saddest thing ever. People from New Mexico are going to read this article and roll their eyes at me.
The show has been a big success so far. Do you have any sense when something’s going to be a hit?
It’s almost like maybe I’m superstitious, I don’t want to jinx it. I just take it day by day and when the good news roles in, I’m grateful for it and I just hope that people continue to enjoy watching the show. I don’t get myself too overly excited because it’s TV—you never know. Stranger things have happened.