Technology is fully immersed in every aspect of our lives, and CBS’s Pure Genius takes that premise and merges it with the medicine world for a compelling series of high tech and high drama. As Dr. Zoe Brockett, Cuban American actress Odette Annable is one of the leads in this new approach to the medical drama.
Here, she tells us about her show, why Cubans make the best doctors, and a constant battle she has with herself of not staring at her phone. Read it all in the exclusive interview below:
What attracted you to Pure Genius?
During pilot season, I read a lot of scripts and this show really spoke to me. And I didn’t even know that the technology on the show was actually real. Then the whole cast went to Cedar Sinai for a seminar that one of our consulting doctors was giving, Dr. Brennan Spiegel, and he was talking about digital health. I realized what we’re showing is, not only real but it’s in the works and some of it is being used right now. It took the idea of our show being Silicon Valley meets medicine to a whole new level because it’s based on reality.
Tell us about your character, Dr. Zoe Brockett.
I love playing this character. She’s so multifaceted and as the season develops you get to see who she is and why became a doctor and those reasons are really personal. I’m so grateful to be a part of the show. [Creator] Jason Katims is really developing these worlds with amazing characters that are flawed and interesting. Our show is about hope, wish fulfillment and right now in America, more than ever, that is what we need.
I've always heard that Cubans are the best doctors.
Well, that is true. I’ve been to Cuba three times and the healthcare out there is really amazing. And a lot of my family members are doctors and they came to America and, unfortunately, had to start all over again. They’re really on it and know exactly what they’re talking about. So thank you for noticing that and I’ll take it. That’s a point for me.
This is your third time portraying a doctor on TV, most notably as Dr. Jessica Adams on House. Which doctor would you go for a consultation?
Right now because the technology on this show is so advanced that if I were sick I would want to go to Bunker Hill. The hospital on the show is another character. The advances that we’re showing in medicine and technology is something that we haven’t seen on TV before. It’s never been done. I think it’s a really important story to tell; for people to see because it has hope. We’re showing medicine a way we’ve never seen on TV before and in a way, that’s real and happening.
Most hospital dramas are just about hookups. What separates Pure Genius from the pack?
We’re doing a nice blend now. We have some fantastic guest stars that are elevating our show and it’s really amazing to be able to work with these people that are so seasoned and dedicated to our show. Our patient cases are really important to the show but you’re starting to see each character intertwine with each other. We’re not only a medical show, we’re a very character driven medical show and that’s Jason Katims’ specialty. He knows how to write humanity. Basically, what I’m saying is that we got all of the marks checked.
Hospitals aren’t the warmest places and if you’re at one it’s usually not for a good reason. Why do they make for good TV?
Everybody’s been to a hospital; everybody’s been sick; everybody knows what that’s like. The process of discovering what a patient has and how to cure it is really fascinating. When I was young I would watch surgeries on TV with my mom. It was always so fascinating and seeing how they could fix someone really spoke to me. When I was looking for a new show, I told me agents and managers that I wanted to play another doctor because I enjoy it so much. The medical jargon isn’t easy memorize especially now having a kid, I have no time, but I manage to do it. I love doing OR scenes because we have these medical techs on the side explaining every move to us, showing us how to draw blood. There’s a reason why true crime stories and medical dramas have been around for so long because they work and they’re really compelling stories.
What technology do you hope is in the near future?
I love the idea of the e-hub that we’re showing. It’s moderating the community from our hospital; basically, it’s a hospital without walls. You can be in the comfort of your own home and your doctor is monitoring you. If you have a heart attack, your doctor knows exactly what’s going on and they’re sending help immediately. I know this is going to happen and really hope this is the future of medicine. Hopefully we do this before anyone else does but monitoring the community is really important.
Random question, how often do you stare are your phone?
It is so unhealthy how often I stare at my phone. I go to this baby group class and one of the topics of the class was about social media, screens, technology and how it’s affecting our children. Your kids don’t want to see the side of your face staring at your phone the whole day. They need you to pay attention to them. They need you to be aware of what they’re doing. They need you to be present. I’m really trying to do my best when I’m with Charlie I give her my attention. She can feel my energy is focused on her. It’s so easy to be on your phone now; it’s so addicting. Even as conscious as I am, I still find myself checking in on my phone and Charlie will grab my phone and she’ll swipe her finger and it’s unbelievable how they’re little sponges right now.
I think you do a fine balance of promoting some things and keeping other stuff private.
Thank you, I appreciate that. There are times when I think, “Oh, am I oversharing? I have to keep some things to myself.” Then sometimes I feel like I need to share more. But I take everything in moderation and that’s how I look at life in general. For me, now being a mom, making myself healthy and being the best version of me is only going to be the best version for Charlie.
Watch Pure Genius on CBS Thursdays at 10/9c.