Jeffrey Lieber tells us about Proctor, Miami Medical’s enigma

3 Jun

I caught up with Miami Medical creator and exec producer, Jeffrey Lieber, this week and asked him a few questions about the mysterious, and wonderful, Dr Proctor. Here’s what he had to say…

Jeffrey Lieber, creator of Miami Medical

As you’ll have spotted, The Jer Blog’s favourite Miami Medical character is Dr Matt Proctor, played so beautifully by Jeremy Northam. From day 1, he really caught the attention of viewers, with his enigmatic past, mysterious scar and quirky ways. As the creator of the show, we wondered if you could tell us some more about him.

Jeremy Northam as Dr Matt Proctor

How would you describe Proctor?

He’s a man in transition, trying to recapture a sense of living in the moment. He had this near death experience (the heart attack) and it caused him to walk away from his old life and go to a totally foreign place… Miami. He’s an enigma to his team… and to himself, which is a quality Jeremy has as both an actor and a person.

When you first started working on the concept for Miami Medical, where was Proctor at that stage in your thinking? Was it concept and then characters or characters first, and which characters came first?

It’s funny, but the truth is… I don’t remember anymore. One second there was no Proctor and the next he existed. Characters come in inspirational bursts for me. I think the first notion I had about the character was his entrance. Out of nowhere… wearing a fish t-shirt… walking straight into a trauma suite with a patient. The rest of the character all stemmed from that introduction.

How do you begin to build a character like Proctor?

Slowly. One script leads to the next and the next and in each one the writers/actors/directors make discoveries. I’d love to say we have it all figured out when we start, but the truth is… we just have a general notion about each other the regulars and then they evolve right in front of our eyes. One of the hardest parts about not getting to do a second season is… we’d found so many new blocks (in Proctor’s case there was this daughter figure that he had a hand in raising…. a woman he’d left behind in Maryland… the spark of a relationship with Dr. Sable) and we’ll never get to really build.

It would have been very easy to make a senior doctor a stereotypical arrogant, cold person, always right, seen it all before, but Proctor isn’t like that. What was your thinking there?

That character exists on TV and his name is House. We were more interested in a man trying to FIGHT against the darkness that can come from facing death on a day to day basis.

We love Proctor’s wit and his eccentricity. Can you clue us in on where that aspect of his character came from? Inspirations?

Early in the season we decided that Proctor couldn’t ever take on a problem in a straightforward manner. He’d hold consultations on the roof. He’d ride his bike in a circle to get his mental juices flowing. This all stemmed from decisions I made in the pilot, then really took root in Steve’s Maeda’s script 88 Seconds. The BLT scene… where Proctor uses a sandwich analogy to explain a medical conundrum… was a moment where we really defined the character’s voice.

Having created a character on the page, and presumably having a strong vision of him in your mind’s eye, what was it like watching Jeremy Northam ‘becoming’ Proctor?

It was quite wonderful. All the actors were. The show was one of those rare experiences where the producers, the studio and the network all were happy with the cast. It RARELY happens that way. More often there’s a weak link that the staff starts to write around. That never happened on the show.

If you’d had the opportunity to build on the character, where do you think you might have gone with him?

Like I said above, we were all excited about expanding his relationships. We’d planned on bringing his “daughter” (she’s referenced in “All Fall Down”) and seeing him as a reluctant father. We also wanted to dig deeper into the life he skipped out on back in Maryland.

We still don’t really know how come a Brit served in a MASH unit in the Gulf War and then ended up in Maryland…where IS Proctor from?

The rough sketch of his back story is this. He was born in England and then moved with his father to the States just before college. He went to undergrad and medical school in America and then served… with the US Armed Forces… in Gulf 1. After that he returned and started his G.I. practice in Maryland. What brought his father to the States? Does he have family back in the UK? Who did he leave back in Maryland? These are all questions we’d only started to answer for ourselves.

We have five more episodes of Miami Medical to see, which would have been part of season 2. Do we have some Proctor highlights to look forward to?

The last episode that will be shown, Medicine Man, has great scenes between Jeremy and W. Earl Brown (from Deadwood fame). Also, in Time of Death, we get a peek into his darkness.

And finally, we have to ask…Dr Proctor and Dr Sable…what happens after the lift doors close??

Its starts out smashingly, then… you’ll have to wait two weeks for more of that.

Thanks so much to Jeffrey for sparing the time to talk to The Jer Blog, we really appreciate it.

This Friday’s episode of Miami Medical, Like a Hurricane, airs at 10pm on CBS. Check out SueVo’s chat with Jeffrey where she covers this and the other upcoming episodes, as well as getting an insight into Jeffrey’s new projects.

by henrysmummy2003

12 Responses to “Jeffrey Lieber tells us about Proctor, Miami Medical’s enigma”

  1. Gayle Cooley June 3, 2010 at 1:49 pm #

    I really enjoyed this one Gill! Makes me even sadder though, that the series has been canceled.

    • henrysmummy2003 June 3, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

      Yes, it’s very sad, the show has been great, with bags of potential….but I won’t rant on and on! We have some great episodes to look forward to, which at one point we thought maybe we might not see…

  2. Ansie June 3, 2010 at 3:24 pm #

    Thanks Gill and Jeffrey for an interesting discussion! What a shame we’ll never see the characters and their stories fully develop. So disappointing . . .

    Thanks, Jeffrey, for taking time to connect with us and I wish you the best of success, personally and professionally.

  3. Carla June 3, 2010 at 7:35 pm #

    Jeff is the man! I loved the insight about Proctor, as well as the comparison with House (teehee), and it makes me even more angry at CBS for cancelling the show!

    • henrysmummy2003 June 3, 2010 at 7:51 pm #

      Jeffrey is indeed the man, big time and Jeremy is the man too, he did such a great job as Proctor. Yes, shame on CBS… 😦

  4. SueVo June 3, 2010 at 8:35 pm #

    Great job Gill! and Jeffrey!
    Wish we had a new season to look forward to. Would have been great to see them expand on some of those ideas for Proctor. Sigh…

    • henrysmummy2003 June 3, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

      Thanks Sue! Too true, so many might-have-beens…cue Jeremy, who knows an appropriate song, I believe…

  5. Jennythenipper June 11, 2010 at 9:41 pm #

    This sort of confirms my “Proctor is the Anti-House” theory. I loved that they let JN keep his lovely accent, too.

    I wonder if there are any more Tudors alumni scheduled for the remaining eps?

    Also, thanks loads for doing this interview. You asked all the pertinent questions.

    • henrysmummy2003 June 11, 2010 at 10:50 pm #

      Thanks Jenny, glad you liked it.
      I’m glad Jeremy kept his natural accent. For me, quite apart from the fact that he speaks so beautifully, as a fellow Brit I can relax because I can understand what he says all the time! Some of the others speak very quickly and I don’t always get it first time round! Lana Parrilla in particular tends to swallow her words and as a non-US person, I miss some of her dialogue. I realise this makes me sound like a granny with an ear trumpet…
      As for House, I find it rather tiresome…and I can’t bear what LA has done to lovely Hugh Laurie, he’s not the same man and it makes me very sad…


  1. Tweets that mention Jeffrey Lieber tells us about Proctor, Miami Medical’s enigma « The Jer Blog, all about Jeremy Northam -- - June 3, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by scotlandaussie, Gill Fraser Lee. Gill Fraser Lee said: Jeffrey Lieber tells The Jer Blog all about @CBSMiamiMedical's Proctor: Please RT, thanks […]

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