‘ER’: Why Noah Wyle Filmed an Entire Episode Wearing an Actual IV
As more fans find the show, or re-discover an old favorite, all the ins-and-outs of this unique medical drama are in high demand once again. You’re in luck because we’ve uncovered a long-forgotten story about how far one of its actors was willing to go to make ER a success.
Viewers love the fast-paced ‘ER’
Originally airing on NBC, ER is one of the longest running medical dramas in American television, second only to Grey’s Anatomy. With 15 seasons, and a total of 331 episodes, the show attracted huge audiences.
The intensity of ER set it apart from other dramas on TV at the time. The action was fast-paced, the camerawork chaotic, and even the plot involved a series of twisting events that all happened simultaneously.
But it captured the emotions of a real hospital, which are filled with high-stakes decisions every day. In fact, when ER was shown to test audiences, they claimed it was more of an action-hour than a traditional medical drama.
“…They perceived ER to be an action hour,” Warren Littlefield, the former NBC Entertainment president, told Vulture. “That’s what they called it. Because of the camera work. I mean, the density to the storytelling, the active use of the camera. It was very, very innovative — and the audience gobbled it up.
The formula worked, and ER became an instant success after it premiered in 1994, providing the breakout roles for several now well-known celebrities, like George Clooney, Julianna Margulies, and Noah Wyle.
‘ER’ made Noah Wyle a star
The role of Dr. John Carter made a huge impact in Wyle’s life. He had grown up in Hollywood, and studied theater in school, but this role on ER was Wyle’s first big break.
Not only was Wyle the youngest actor on set, but he was also one of the longest-running cast members. He started with the show in season one, and remained part of the main cast until Season 11, when his first son was born.
After becoming a parent, Wyle decided to take some time off to focus on family. The writers had his character move to Africa to explain his absence, but Wyle did return to ER as a guest many times before the show’s end.
Noah Wyle once filmed with an IV
There’s no doubt that the success of ER happened because of multiple reasons, but Wyle certainly played a part. Fans loved him, and he was incredibly hardworking and dedicated.
One instance, taken from an interview of the actor in Littlefield’s book, Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV, especially demonstrates Wyle’s dedication to the show.
“I was doing a play in Hollywood at the same time, and I got mononucleosis,” Wyle explained. “We were shooting the show that night, and I had a fever of 104 degrees, and I was hallucinating. I didn’t think I was going to make it.
I turned to Dr. Joe Sachs, our medical tech, and I said, ‘Joe, I don’t think I’m going to make it.’
Joe said, ‘I don’t have anything for you.’ He looked around the set and said, ‘I guess I could take one of these IVs and give it to you.’
There were IVs all over the set. He squeezes a bag of saline into me. When we were shooting, I’d put it in my pocket. I remember thinking that wasn’t odd. It was something we’d all consider doing. I was 22 or 23 and working 18 hours a day. Going home seemed like it wasn’t on the table.”
The incident happened during the first season, while filming the episode “Love’s Labor Lost.”