Category Archives: fixing hearts

CBS – Three Rivers: Alex O’Loughlin Set Interview (2009)

We end our week of focussing on organ donation and organ transplantation and Alex’s role as Dr Andy Yablonski, on Three Rivers, with this short behind the scenes interview with Alex.

(Transcript of a video)

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Alex: I play Andy Yablonski, who is a staff surgeon at the Three Rivers hospital. It’s new to me; I’ve never played a doctor before. And so I studied a lot at the Cleveland clinic, to get as much information as I could.

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Alex: My character is based on an actual surgeon who we all know as Gonzo. And this guy to me, is like a rock star. I don’t know if he’s the youngest surgeon there, but he is certainly at the younger end of the surgeons there. And he is extremely good at what he does.

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Alex: Gonzo introduced me to the operating rooms. And the environment and the atmosphere. And so the first thing I saw was a patient that was prepped … cause once the patient is prepped you don’t see their face or the rest of their body. You just see the open cavity and all the organs. We walked in and we were talking about something, and he went, “By the way, look at that.” And I was, “Oh my god”

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Alex: I think the thing that I did … that most stood out to me, was absolute honestly in interaction with humans that you have to have. Because every patient that you have to deal with, you have to talk to, person to person, with nothing else there. You have to be so clear and honest.

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Alex: It was an incredible experience. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I mean these people are some of the best in the world. The opportunity to play a character like that, it was amazing. It was amazing.

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Video:

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Alex O’Loughlin Congratulates Carol Barbee on her Awards in 2010

My Thoughts:

It is probably not a good idea to try and make a prime time TV show while staying with realism and authenticity. It seems that people do not want to be confronted with reality when they seek out entertainment.

I have seen so many comments over the years of people saying that Three Rivers is a morbid story, because somebody needs to die to save another person’s life.

I find that view amusing, because it looks like people forget that in nearly every episode on a show like Hawaii Five-0, somebody and sometimes more than one have to die for the team to have a case for that week. In most cases they solve the crime and prevent the perpetrators from continuing with their crimes and killing people. Most of the time in the process the team kill more people and even colleagues in police also die a lot in the show. Why don’t people see that as even more morbid, than a show like Three Rivers where people at least get a direct second chance on life every time?

I am only playing devil’s advocate here, and hopefully inspire people to watch a show like Three Rivers with different eyes. Although they could have done some of it differently, for me it was both entertainment and education in one. I think Alex should always be proud of what he did with this show, even if it was so short-lived.

Alex - At Donate Life Dinner

Although the show was cut prematurely, they at least got recognition from the organizations whose causes they highlighted ……

Three Rivers Producer Carol Barbee Accepts Crystal Heart at the Donate Life Hollywood Inspire Awards Dinner.

(Transcript)

Announcer: Good evening and welcome to the Donate Life Hollywood Inspire Awards Dinner, and the culmination of the Donate Life Film Festival.

Carol Barbee: We are all just holding each other up. We’re all just here. We can all save each other’s lives. And other people can save our lives. And you never know which side of that equation you’re going to be on. And I found that fascinating, when I started to look into organ donation. And just beautiful sort of coming together of three different points of view, the doctors. the donors and the recipients. And they all need each other. And you never know which side of that equation you’re going to be on.

Alex & Producer, Carol Barbee at TCA 2009

Dr Gonzo Gonzales-Stawinski: Tonight Carol is not only being given one award, she’s actually being given two awards. The Donate Life Inspire Award and the prestigious Crystal Heart Award. This national award highlights broadcast media representative for their outstanding efforts to accurately depict the science and reality of organ, eye and tissue procurement and transplantation to the public. This year Three Rivers has done it better than anyone.

Alex - Donate life Awards

Alex: Carol, congratulations on everything. I love you so much. It’s so wonderful working with you. We’re about to work together again. And all the hard work and dedication, and passion and honesty and beauty you put into the show called Three Rivers, that I was so proud to be a part of. You know, it’s  paid off. And congratulations! I love you.

Alex O'Loughlin and Carol Barbee

Carol Barbee acceptance speech: The day they told us they were taking us of the air, I got an e-mail from a procurement person. She said, “I just wanted you to know that this person sent this e-mail to say that her daughter got a heart last night, because her donor watched your show last week.” And I said, “You know what, we’re good. We’re good”. So thank you. And it was a privilege to tell the stories. And thank you.

11 June 2010 - Alex O'Loughlin

Carol Barbee: Hello everybody. This is Carol Barbee, the executive producer and creator of the CBS drama, Three Rivers. I’m here at the Donate Life Hollywood Inspire Awards Dinner. And I was just given this amazing award, the Crystal Heart Award from AOPO. And I want to just thank the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations, as well as Donate Life America for this amazing honour, I understand that it was sponsored by MTF.

And I just wanted to say to all of you, it’s such a privilege to tell these stories. And I thank you for all of your support. Thank you for this honour. Being involved in this show certainly changed my life and my understanding and my commitment to organ donation. And if we could have helped to make that change in other people, the whole thing is really really worth it. So thank you for this honour. I’m going to treasure it. Thank you.

Alex O'Loughlin & Carol Barbee - TCA 2009

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Gif for the day – Dr Andy

I’m not really the sort of actor that phones it  in, in any way.

I kind of … I don’t work like that.

– Alex O’Loughlin

Three Rivers Soundbites

2009

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Something that is visible with every single character that Alex portray, is that he gives it all to each and every one of them. Even in the smallest gestures with his face, one can experience the emotions. He does not need large gestures to let you feel how and what his character is feeling. He just becomes that person with every move.

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And this smile brightens any day…..

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Three Rivers – You Ask They Tell: #AlexOLoughlin 2009

We are thinking of running themes and focus on a subject every week, for the weeks we still have left during hiatus. Not sure if it will work that way, because we both got kind of busy lately. But let’s try at least.

With all the talk about transplants, I thought it might be a good idea to start with the angelic Dr Andy Yablonski. I know not many like posts about Three Rivers and they are normally some of the lesser shared or liked articles.

It is however important for me to see how enthusiastic Alex was to be part if such a ‘real’ show and a subject like organ donation, that can be of such great value to so many people around the world. He really poured his heart into this one.

Alex O’Loughlin tells us about CBS’s new show ‘Three Rivers’

on ‘You Ask, They Tell’.

Transcript 

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Question: Can you describe your character on Three Rivers?

Alex: My character, his name is Andy Yablonski, and he’s a cardiothoracic surgeon at a hospital in Pittsburgh called Three Rivers. And he specializes, as does the hospital, in transplant medicine and transplant …. organ transplantation. And it’s … he is based on a real-life character called Gonzo Gonzales-Stawinski out of Cleveland.

The Cleveland Clinic, which is where I did my studying and research for this role and … with Gonzo. And the show …. the show we tell from three different points of view. We tell it from the point of view of the donor, the recipient, and … my character and the medical team at Three Rivers. And so it is a medical show that I believe we haven’t seen before.

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Question: What makes Three Rivers stand out from other television shows?

Alex: The fact that the core of the show, the heart, of the show if you will, is based in organ transplantation. It’s not something that has been done on TV before. We may have seen glimpses of it, but really not the way we are doing it.

We’re doing it with the utmost integrity, remaining intact at all times, for the truth of ….. of this field of medicine. And of …. you know, the other thing that we desperately try to do is dispel all the misconceptions and myths around organ donation. And you know one of the main ones is  …. you know, people are scared to become donors, because they have heard that …  if anything ever does happen to them, doctors in hospitals won’t try to save them, because their organs are … are available. Which is absolutely not true.

And I’m a spokesperson and ambassador now for Donate Life America, which is a great pleasure and a great privilege. And they are an incredible organization. And so, they have a website, Donatelife.net, which you can jump on and find all sorts of information about the truth about organ donation. About how important it is. About how many lives you can affect. You can actually save up to 8 lives and affect up to 50, by being an organ donor. And so …. yeah, and I am. I am an organ donor.

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Question: How did you prepare for this role?

Alex: The clinic was a huge … the Cleveland Clinic was a huge part of my preparation. And my time with Gonzo …. I spend a lot of time with Gonzo on the phone before I got to Cleveland. I went to Cleveland a number of times and spend blocks of time there, staying at the hotel which is connected to the hospital. Which is funny because in the story my character lives in the hotel connected to the hospital, because he is separated from his wife. He’s in a transition phase of his life.

But my preparation for this …. I …. from the minute I made the decision and said yes to the job, I went into my research and preparation like a bull at a gate. And I didn’t stop. I actually still haven’t stopped, because it is such a massive thing.

Medicine is …it’s like law, or science. It’s another language, it’s another world away. These people train for 15 years before they can, you know, do what these guys do. And so, it’s taking a lot. And there’s a lot of … I live in textbooks …. in medical textbooks and encyclopedias. And on the phone to my ….. my friends who are surgeons and doctors. And just …. I’m forever learning, and there’s just so much to learn. And so, I’m doing my best.

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Question: What will you take away from playing a role like this?

Alex: I find it very interesting. I find …. I’m fascinated with medicine. And I’m borderline obsessed with this stuff. I mean the thing is there’s … medicine at this level, you know, surgeons…. I just ….. what they do is incredible. It’s so fascinating to me. I’ve spent a lot of time in the OR as well. Like shoulder to shoulder with my man there, watching two feet away ….. at somebody’s open chest and heart pumping and lungs breathing. And watching them go on bypass and then the surgeon comes in and does all his stuff.

I mean it’s …. It really changes …. It’s really changed my perspective on life. It really like … I mean it really shifts the way you view life. To see how resilient we are on the inside as well as on the outside of our bodies. And I mean, it makes you question faith, and religion and whether this is in fact a second chance that we think we’re going to get after this life. I mean it’s pretty … it opens up a whole bunch of philosophical debates.

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Video:

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Don’t Judge a Book … November 2009

Feeling fortunate, Alex O’Loughlin lives life to the fullest.

TV Soap

by Paulette Cohn
11-25 November 2009

Alex O’Loughlin is many things – a vampire, a leading man and now a doctor in Three Rivers – but just don’t peg him by the books he reads.

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Aussie actor Alex O’Loughlin has been blessed by the Hollywood gods. Playing vampire detective Mick St John on Moonlight was a big break and since then his star has been on the rise. O’Loughlin has completed filming the leading man role to Jennifer Lopez’s leading lady in the romantic comedy The Back-Up Plan and is also currently starring in the new medical drama, Three Rivers on Ten as organ-transplant surgeon Dr Andy Yablonski. The Canberra-born star talks to TV Soap about the business of life and death….

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Question: When was the last time you where home?

Alex: Christmas. I’ve been thinking about Australia a lot lately because I have been working so much, and I haven’t had a vacation in a while. I had one day of between the movie (The Back-Up Plan) and the show (Three Rivers). All I can think about is Sydney in the winter when it’s kind of cold and everybody is watching the waves crash. It’s crazy, but sometimes I miss the weather.

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Question: Why did you take the movie role, rather than a break?

Alex: Kate Angelo wrote a great script. (Director) Alan Poul met me and offered me the film. I met Jennifer and it all seems to fit perfectly. I went straight from the pilot of Three Rivers to the movie, and I just finished the movie and started filming the show. It has been a non-stop ride the last few months.

Question: What can you tell us about the story?

Alex: It is a comedy that has romantic elements. It has a lot of physical comedy and it has some really touching dramatic moments, too. I can’t wait to see it. What I shot felt great. My co-stars were fantastic. Jennifer (Lopez) is amazing. I am very lucky.

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Question: When you were filming in Pittsburgh, did fans of the vampire series Moonlight recognise you?

Alex: Not that many. I have experience with Moonlight fans all around the world. That show seems to have very long arms. It was very close to my heart. I love my Moonlight fans as long as they don’t come at me with sharp objects when they’re excited!

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Question: Was it tough to let go of the vampire character Mick on Moonlight?

Alex: I love Mick more than anybody. I had to live in his skin, but I couldn’t play that character and work under those conditions, you have no idea of the stuff that went on. I can’t believe it went on as long as it did. We love the character, but I had to say goodbye. You can look for the same thing. I had to look for something antithetical to that. I don’t want to play the same role.

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Question: The Moonlight fans were so intense in their dedication to the show. What was it like to experience that level of fanaticism?

Alex: That was the first time I had been overwhelmed with letters from fans. It’s very strange and surreal. At first, there was something spooky about opening up hundreds of letters from people you have never met, who know so much about you and have intimate connection with you. But now I am much more comfortable with it. Without my fans, this job is pointless.

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Question: Can you talk about the emotional journey of getting ready for the role of Dr Andy Yablonski in Three Rivers?

Alex: The emotional journey is immense. I know that these surgeons have days where they are like, “Is there a God? And if there is a God, where are you?” One of the things that affected me the most was going on pre-op rounds with (real-life organ transplant surgeon) Dr Gonzalo (Gonzo) Gonzalez-Stawinski, as well as all the time in the OR. I met a woman who needed a new heart. She wasn’t that old, she was in her 50’s and she had grown-up kids. She allowed me to come into the room while she was talking to Gonzo for an evaluation.

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There is a lot of bureaucracy in this world. You have to meet the criteria, or you don’t get the organ and you die. Something had happened and she had been refused an organ. He sat and talked with her and he said to her, “What do you want?” She said, “I just want to live. I just want to be alive”. He said, “What would you do if I could give you another five to 10 years?” She said, “I would take walks by the lake, and I would tend to my vegetable garden and be with my kids”. This is a person like you and like me who just wants to live their life with the people they love, doing the things that bring her joy. I don’t know if she got the heart or not, but that is the world we are moving into.

People such as Gonzo and Andy Yablonski deal on a personal level and meet and fall in love with these people every day, and lose these people every day. They are in the life business and try to give life as much as they can.

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Question: Does it make you appreciate life more?

Alex: It does, but I try to do that anyway. I’m very lucky, look at my life! A lot of people aren’t going to eat today. That is way I was hesitant to take the role because it’s so immense. Every episode is about life and death. If someone doesn’t die, someone doesn’t get to live.

Question: Can you imagine yourself as a doctor in real life?

Alex: I hated school. I wanted to be outside running through the forests and traveling the world. I wasn’t interested in books until I got a bit older.

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Question: Do you read now?

Alex: Every day. There are always 10 different books by my bed at any given time. All sorts of stuff; I’ve been reading medical journals for research and there are always scripts. For fun I read fiction, non-fiction, biographies . I am currently …. I hesitate to answer these questions because people go, “Oh my God! He is reading that book. That is who he is”, and it’s not. I’m reading the ‘Tibetan Book of Living and Dying’. Read that and get back to me.

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My Thoughts

  • Thank you Paula for these lovely pictures you added – a wonderful showcase of Alex the actor.

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