Tantoo Cardinal on Bringing a Timely Social Message to ‘New Amsterdam’

Tantoo Cardinal Ryan Eggold New Amsterdam Season 3 Max Jane
Scott Gries/NBC

Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold), New Amsterdam hospital’s principled medical director, may have met his match in patient Jane Munsee (Tantoo Cardinal, above center, with Eggold).

“She’s a history professor with a drive for social justice and the truth,” Cardinal says. Although she has a dangerous blood clot, the descendent of the Native American Lenape tribe that once inhabited Manhattan tells him she can’t stay in a hospital whose name represents the erasure of her people.

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The actor has played Dr. Kapoor in the medical drama since 2018.

For Cardinal, “I can feel [the lack of respect]. It’s in your marrow,” says the prolific Canadian Indigenous actress (Dances With Wolves), explaining why she took her first flight in a year to be part of telling the story.

The episode’s writer, Shanthi Sekaran, realized the show had taken the name for granted. “I wanted Jane to be a headstrong, flinty woman who pushed the limits of activism and pushed Max to the limits of his idealism,” she says. “Max is all about reckoning and justice — so how might he reckon with Jane’s demands?”

The hour is a civil but intense negotiation. “She’s hard on him,” Cardinal says. “She sends him back to the drawing board until he comes up with something that’s palpable.”

New Amsterdam Season 3 Episode 9 Max Goodwin Ryan Eggold

Virginia Sherwood/NBC

New Amsterdam, Tuesdays, 10/9c, NBC