The Bloody Behind-the-Scenes View of The Knick (PHOTOS)

Michael Logan
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Smooth Operators

When Steven Soderbergh’s critically adored medical drama The Knick returns, there’s a slight time jump to 1901 and a plan for the titular hospital to relocate to Manhattan’s Upper East Side. “The doctors will achieve absolutely incredible things this season, but there are also shocking misfires,” says Clive Owen, who stars as surgeon John Thackery. “You’ll be saying, ‘What barbaric ideas about medicine! What the hell were they thinking back then?’ But 50 years from now, people will say the same about us.”

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Addicted to Recovery

After some very rocky rehab, cocaine addict Thackery “goes back into the operating room sober for the first time in a long time,” says Owen (second from left, with Soderbergh behind the camera). “He’s determined to find out the true nature of addiction—something modern science still grapples with—but it’s really his attempt to understand himself.”

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The Way of the Suture

Technical consultant Dr. Stanley Burns (left, with Owen), the author of 45 books about medical history, guides the actors through their many surgery scenes. “They’ve all become experts at suturing,” Burns says. “The big challenge was getting them accustomed to all those open heads and chests and bellies. They can’t just play doctors. They have to live it.”

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Hail to the Chief?

Algernon is now acting chief of surgery, but hospital execs don’t want a black man in the job permanently. “That has him in an emotionally dark place,” says Holland (left). Worse yet, things are horribly strained between Algernon and his white, high-society lover, Cornelia (Juliet Rylance), who felt forced to abort his baby last season. “They never stood a chance in 1901,” Holland says. “Today, they’d be the ultimate power couple.”

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A Whole New World

Actor Charles Aitken looks through a turn-of-the-century camera meant to capture the historic groundbreaking of the new state-of-the-art Knickerbocker Hospital. “It’s the beginning of medicine as big business,” says Andre Holland, who plays Algernon Edwards, the Knick’s only black doctor. “The hospitals are all trying to compete with each other. The changes in society, politics and science are drastic and happening daily. The world feels like a runaway train.”

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Men About Town

The series shoots on location in New York City, with its design team turning neighborhoods in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx back 100 years. “We get out of the hospital and away from the drawing rooms of the rich much more this season to show the vibrancy of the city,” Owen says. “Life expectancy is low, but the streets, the bars and the clubs are alive! It’s a very visceral time.”

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