By David Hennessy
He is familiar to UK audiences as Greg Douglas of Holby City. Edward MacLiam, from Mallow in Cork, played the registrar in cardiothoracic surgery in the BBC medical drama from 2010 to 2012. Career-minded, self-assured and with a way with the ladies, Greg was the Holby staff member you would want looking after you if you landed in one of their wards, and want to go for a pint with once discharged.
Greg had chemistry with his colleague Sahira Shah, played by Laila Rouass, from the very start and their storyline kept audiences guessing over whether they might end up together and allowed both characters to go out with a bang.
Edward’s previous roles included playing Doctor Stewart in Eastenders, appearing alongside Ciaran Hinds in Above Suspicion and a part in the Kenneth Williams biopic, Fantabulosa but it was as Greg that he came to the attention of many and became recognised as one of Ireland’s finest actors.
Now Edward is set to wow American audiences after landing the lead in ABC pilot, Big Thunder. Also starring Irish actress Ruth Bradley, Big Thunder sees Edward playing Doctor Grant Carson in the supernatural drama set in a 19th-century frontier mining town. It was just last month that The Irish World wrote about Edward’s casting and when we sit down to talk to him, he has completed filming of the episode. Don’t things move fast in Hollywood? “Yeah, they just seem to really,” the actor begins. “It was my first time going out there so it was my first experience of it (pilot season) so my understanding of it is that it’s quite condensed: From the time that they cast it to when they shoot it to when they decide whether they are going to take it up and turn it into a series. It’s all in the space of a couple of months. It was a two and a half week shoot so yeah, it was shot quite quickly.
“It was fantastic. I really enjoyed it, a really, really good bunch of people. The pilot’s show runner is a woman called Melissa Rosenberg. She was involved in Dexter and she’s also the screenwriter for the Twilight movies so she ran the show with another guy called Rob Bowman. He’s got a show in America called Castle and he helped to originate The X Files and things like that so two very experienced people really. They were great to be around and just to work with them was a pleasure and the cast as well, really good bunch of people. It was great.
“The story is about a doctor who goes to Wyoming with his daughter and his seven year old son after his wife has died and takes up a residency in the town. His son has been suffering as an asthmatic all his life and when they come to this town, there’s a guy who kind of runs the show there, the gold mine and the local saloon and he’s kind of a strange nefarious kind of character. Where they mine, on the mountain, something supernatural is going on and the kid seems to have a connection with all sorts of supernatural things inside the mountain and they want to keep the kid there and I want to leave, that kind of thing. It’s a lovely little boy called Pierce Gagnon. He was in Looper, he’s a tremendous little actor. He was great.”
And was Edward already familiar with the other Irish cast member, Ruth Bradley? “I didn’t know Ruth personally before that so it was my first time meeting her and working with her so it was really good: Lovely girl and very fine actress.”
Before joining the Holby City cast, Edward was a recurring doctor in Eastenders between 2007 and 2009. How does he feel about being cast as a medical professional again? “I know, it’s a funny thing. I must have a trustworthy face or something like that. My characters, the doctors I play: They’re usually not straight down the line fellas, they’re quite messed up or something like that. I don’t know if I read too much into it the fact that I end up as doctors. I think doctors permeate a lot of TV shows anyway, they’re omnipresent.”
For the full interview, see the April 20 edition of The Irish World.