HomeHealth"Before the Doc shots were taken, we were in the hospital for...

“Before the Doc shots were taken, we were in the hospital for two weeks – and I passed out.”

The true story of an Italian doctor who was left with no memory for the last 12 years of his life after an incident inspired the creation of Doc. In Portugal, the medical drama is one of the most watched series on the AXN channel.

One of the main characters is Riccardo, a doctor in the hospital, where the whole narrative unfolds. The role will be played by Pierpaolo Spollon, a 32-year-old Italian actor who is in Lisbon for the premiere of Doc’s second season.

You can watch the first episode this Tuesday, February 1, from 10 p.m. A new chapter airs at the same time each week. NiT spoke to the actor about the character’s preparation process, the show’s second season, and the impact of Covid-19 on the story of “Doc.” Read the interview.

When the idea was presented to you, what drew you to work on this production?
When I was first asked if I was interested in this project, I wasn’t too convinced. Doing a series of doctors in Italy didn’t sound very good to me. But when I read the script and especially the first three episodes, I was immediately convinced. I didn’t ask anymore – I answered that I wanted to. When I spoke to the director, he told me he wanted me to have some freedom to make Riccardo’s character a nicer person – all thanks to irony.

Why wasn’t he keen on doing a series about doctors?
For personal taste. It’s not a topic that interests me very much. I’m more interested in social issues. When the pandemic struck halfway through filming, I really got to see the social side of Doc — we got to show how the doctors were reacting. We were able to show these professionals from their most human side and I was very happy about that.

Your character has one defining characteristic: he is an amputee. How did you react when you read the script?
In the first version of the script, the character was missing two legs. But then, when we talked to the director, we came to the conclusion that it would be more interesting to show how the character could hide that he doesn’t have any lower limbs. And most importantly, the leg was amputated from the knee down and not above – a big difference in walking ability. We chose irony to in some way enable Riccardo to hide behind her with this lack. What I’ve always done is get involved in voluntary organizations that support people with physical disabilities. What I’ve come to realize over time is that the real problem isn’t with the people with these disabilities – it’s the perception that others have of them. What we need to do is change that view. Disability is in the eye of the beholder, not the person who has it.

The actor admits he would love to do another season of ‘Doc.’

Has your perception also changed or did you already have it, considering your closeness to these associations?
Yes, I did prep work with a boy who lost a leg when he was 14. It was really important to see how he handled the whole pre-hide and post-hide situation – because, like my character, he was hiding his missing leg. Some things in the script changed after I met this guy. The way the character says no when the girl asks him if he’s interested in dating her… he told me that and we decided to reproduce it.

In addition to this physical trait, have you also prepared yourself in the medical field?
I have always been interested in this field because I wanted to be a veterinarian. And before the recordings, we spent two weeks preparing in one of the largest hospitals in Rome. We escorted a team of doctors to all the wards of the hospital: CPR, the ER… We followed them everywhere and I passed out a few times – it wasn’t easy. But it was worth it. After the series came out, they recognized the ease with which we move [de forma verossímil] during surgeries.

Has this preparation radically changed your view of the profession or not?
One thing that really struck me was the realization that usually when we go to the hospital, sometimes we get angry because we’re in a hurry – but we don’t realize that there are people in front of us who are dealing with the Last to save lives every day. We don’t know how difficult it is to deal with this situation. Therefore, it was very important for me to show the subtle border that exists between the perception of doctors from the outside and from the inside.

Pierpaollo Spollon plays Riccardo in Doc.

Finally, this second season deals with the Covid-19 pandemic. Was that important or inevitable?
It’s not the big focus, but of course we had to address the pandemic. I think that television plays a very important role for people – it helps them to work psychoanalytically in the sense that it allows them to see from the outside what happened, what they went through, how this situation affects them influenced life. Help them think. I think we will all have to do that. At some point we will have to understand what the pandemic has done to us.

In terms of your character, what can fans expect from season two?
Riccardo will be at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic. You will face some problems because work will be the most important thing in your life, the priority. We will see through him what happened at the height of the pandemic: Doctors had no life. They moved away from family members because they were afraid of infecting them, they were completely isolated in everyday hospital life. And this, as we know, is a situation that completely changes the dynamics and relationships within families. My character will face this problem – possibly even worse than the missing leg she drew in the first season.

What was the biggest challenge of this second season?
The real life pandemic. We had some problems, not only within the framework of the fictional work, but also outside of it – we had to interrupt the recording a couple of times, with infected people. It was pretty challenging. In terms of the script, the big question was to talk about Covid-19 without upsetting people too much, so without conveying the idea that it’s something very serious. I hope I made it, but I’m not sure.

The actor came to Lisbon for the premiere.

Italy has been one of the European countries hardest hit by the pandemic, especially in 2020 when it was one of the first to suffer from the rapid transmission of Covid-19. In this context, was it a sensitive subject that should be dealt with in fiction?
When we learned that Doc season 2 would be about Covid-19, we feared people were getting tired of hearing about the subject. But the opposite happened: the audience showed great affection for the second season. Perhaps this helps to prove what I said: this work could function as a kind of psychoanalysis session. Many have cried while watching this season because maybe they managed to reflect on the subject and make a catharsis. There was a study of the war in Vietnam that showed that the soldiers who were hardest hit by the war were not the ones who were injured. It was those involved in the conflict who, although not physically affected, could not endure the psychological suffering. went crazy. I think something similar happened with Covid-19. Those who have not been directly linked to the disease, who have not been caught or who are not healthcare professionals and who have experienced all of this in a lateral way are the people who are most affected psychologically. Because they viewed the corona virus as a kind of invisible enemy. And I believe that the role of television is also: not only to make people happy, but also to inform them about what is happening and to enable them to project their insecurities and fears onto the characters they represent see on TV. This role of television fiction is very important.

Throughout the series, he had opportunities to offer suggestions about his character. Is this opportunity important to you as an actor?
Yes, of couse. It’s very important to be able to bring something of myself to the role I’m playing. I spoke to the director: he had his ideas, I had mine and we found a compromise. Normally I let my thoughts influence me. Improvisation is also very important in the way I work – and it has happened to me many times.

“Doc” was a hit in Italy and many other countries. Would you like to be part of the series for a few more years?
A really good atmosphere has developed among all team members – we are like a family. I envision there will be a third season that represents about five years of work on the same project. After all this time, the charms are likely to wear off – and then it becomes important to change.

Click the gallery to discover other series premiering this February.

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