A decade after Dr. Mark Greene hung up his white lab coat for good on ER, Anthony Edwards is back as the star of a new television series.
He plays Hank Galliston, a magazine publisher wrapped up in an historical mystery after his wife is kidnapped on ABC’s Zero Hour, which premiered last Thursday at 8 p.m.
The action thriller requires an audience to concentrate as the story unfolds layer by layer.
The road back to series television took Edwards many miles to travel — literally thousands upon thousands.
Edwards’ character Greene was the heart of what was then television’s most popular drama before the actor bowed out after eight years. Upon leaving, “I didn’t really have a plan other than I knew I wasn’t going to jump into a series again, and I knew that I was really tired and burnt out,” he said.
Professionally, maybe. Personally, Edwards, 50, had a clear strategy. The California native moved his wife and four children to New York. He was going to spend time raising his kids and give his artist wife time to establish her career, before they took off on a dream adventure.
He bought a plane and took the family (and two teachers) on a 310-day trip around the world, through Africa, India, Southeast Asia and just about every exotic place you could imagine.
“It sounds like Howdy Doody,” Edwards tells the AP. “But I’ve never met the older man who wishes he had spent less time with his kids while they were young. You don’t meet anybody who says, ‘God, I wish I had worked harder and was gone more.’ ”
Edwards never left the business. He was always comfortable behind the scenes, and had been close to leaving acting for directing before getting the ER job. He has his own production company, Grand Central Entertainment, and was an executive producer of HBO’s Temple Grandin. He did some film acting, in Zodiac and the memorable flop Motherhood.
Showtime’s loss proved ABC’s gain. Grand Central developed a series about a high-end public relations firm that Edwards had planned to act in and when Showtime passed, he found himself with free time. Edwards started looking at other scripts and found Zero Hour to be “a total page-turner.”
The danger is that television has its cases of actors being so defined by an overwhelmingly successful role that viewers have a hard time seeing them do something else. Edwards believes the characters he has chosen guard against that.
“My career has never been based on the fact that I was an action hero or a specific kind of comedian,” he said. “What’s fun about it is it appears a little bit boring, but for me the subtleties of what is going on is what makes it fun.”
Keep your eyes open for an inside joke. In one episode where Galliston is depicted escaping from pursuers he puts on a lab coat and walks through a medical facility. Mark Greene lives!
Edwards enjoys the comfort of being back on a television set.
“I understand how a day on a set is supposed to go, and it makes perfect sense,” he said. “It’s my playground. A question from a 12-year-old? That’s when it gets tough. Raising kids is hard.”