‘Chicago Med’: Steven Weber Introduces Dean Archer & Previews Changed Dynamic With Ethan
“Even though he’s really good at what he does, he might not be good at healing himself,” says Steven Weber, who joins Chicago Med in the recurring role of Dr. Dean Archer in the March 10 episode, of his character.
Dean comes in to serve as ED Chief Ethan Choi’s (Brian Tee) second-in-command — after, so the story goes, he was the latter’s mentor during their time serving in the Navy. “He taught Ethan a lot of what he has become expert at,” Weber previews.
This isn’t the first time he’s appeared in one of Dick Wolf’s shows, which are all connected, thanks to crossovers; he guest starred on Law & Order: SVU and Criminal Intent (in different roles). “I’m surprised everybody isn’t in it,” he laughs of the “big world” of that universe.
It’s also not the first time he’s played a doctor. While both his Med and Chasing Life characters are healers, “Dean is more complex and darker” than oncologist George Carver, Weber says. “He’s wounded.”
Weber tells us more about his character.
Why does Dean move to Chicago?
Steven Weber: There is more to it [than Ethan hiring him]. Over time, Dean, whose private practice fell by the wayside, has needed a little help and it came in the form of Ethan, who I guess arguably needed a little help and he remembered his old superior in the Navy [and thought] he would be a good addition. They have a shared history, having both served and seen some action, and a good working dynamic, at least at the start.
How does that past inform the way they interact in the present?
As in a lot, if not all, of the characters in the Dick Wolf universe, these people aren’t stereotypes and they carry their pasts with them. Despite Dean and Ethan’s ability to move on past their service, there might be hints of some PTSD. In Dean at least, there might be some issues that maybe go a little deeper in terms of his self-identity, how he’s aging, and the fact he now has to work under the guy who used to work under him, and how he fits in.
He may be a bit of a dinosaur in this new world. He’s still very good at what he does. He still is an excellent and intuitive surgeon, but he might be a bit out of fashion, and that’s starting to become apparent.
What does he think of how Ethan’s doing as chief of the ED?
He’s respectful of Ethan and the fact that he has attained this great position, but it’s hard for him. And also I think he’s got some issues with his ego. If he sees Ethan doing so well, Dean probably can’t help but think, “He’s doing well because I taught him.”
What does he think of what Ethan expects from him as his second-in-command?
At first, he forgets he’s second-in-command, but it’s Ethan who has to teach him. Even though Dean has all these other issues, he’s not above being able to be humble and understand that the world is changing and he has to change along with it or be left at the wayside.
Brian Tee said Dean “sticks his head into places he shouldn’t” and makes messes.
He oversteps his authority. He still assumes he’s number one. He’s got to let Ethan be his boss, and that’s a little difficult for him, especially for a person who’s had almost a full career at this point in his life and has earned his stripes and his ego, to a certain extent.
What about his personal life?
There are suggestions that he’s been suffering from a blow to his self-esteem. He’s afraid of aging out of his profession. He had his own practice for a while, which is something he aspired to after the service, and that was not successful for a variety of reasons. He has to work under one of his pupils — it’s like someone having to move back in with their parents — and while it’s necessary and not a bad thing intrinsically, if you have an ego, an idea of where you saw yourself and you didn’t end up there, it could be a blow.
There’s the possibility he, as well as Ethan, had witnessed some potentially traumatic events while they were in the Navy. It’s a real issue for people who served in areas of conflict around the world — they carry it with them for the rest of their lives. My father was a Korean War veteran, who I only realized years after he died was a guy that had terrible PTSD. Because of that, I became involved in an organization, New Directions for Veterans, which helps veterans with employment, their health, finding homes. These are the things the show might possibly touch on.
Who does he go home to? Himself?
Yeah, he’s a single man of a certain age. I’m not sure he’s able to be with somebody. He’s a guy that eschews therapy for scotch, liquid therapy. He tries to cope with the changing world and the changes in himself in ways that might not necessarily be so healthy. He’s got to be with himself. Maybe he doesn’t want to be.
Chicago Med, Wednesdays, 8/7c, NBC