John Stamos is thrilled not to be playing a metrosexual with perfect hair for once in his two-decade-plus career. As maverick “ER” intern Tony Gates, the actor has traded in designer suits and gel for scrubs and a scruffy ‘do.
“I wanted to play a guy’s guy and a man’s man, which was kind of different than most of the other characters I’ve played,” Stamos says. “I didn’t want to be another bachelor guy dating a bunch of different girls again.”
For years, Stamos talked to “ER” exec producer John Wells about joining the long-running drama, but the scheduling never worked, so they settled on a two-episode trial in 2005. “We thought, let’s test the waters and do just a couple of shows and see how it works,” he said of his initial guest stint as a flirtatious EMT.
But Stamos was still starring in the short-lived comedy “Jake in Progress.” When ABC shelved the show, the timing was finally right for him to check into County General.
As the ER’s newest hot-tempered doc, Stamos immediately clashed with his superiors, disregarded hospital rules and landed in a love triangle. “He’s hands down my favorite character I’ve ever played,” he says. “It’s so much fun to be the new character who comes in and shakes everything up.”
Stamos adds that working with such a tight cast, many of whom have acted together for five or more seasons, has been a relief from headlining his own primetime projects.
“This year has been probably the most growth I’ve had as an actor in 25 years,” he says. “I’ve had to work hard to keep up with the level of talent from some of the best actors working on television.”
One of those actors is 11-year-old Chloe Greenfield, who plays Sarah, the orphaned girl Gates is raising.
“At first I thought, eh, I’ve worked with enough kids,” Stamos admits. “But Gates can be such a jackass, it’s great to have those nurturing scenes with Sarah. In order to keep me being this rebel in the hospital, I get to come home and take care of this kid at night.”
Favorite scene: “I think one of the most moving scenes was when I was trying to revive Sarah’s mother and she finally dies. Watching that kid work, Chloe, was amazing. I was worried about whether I would cry in the scene, how I would do it, but in the end I just watched her.”
Where you’d like to see your character go next season: “We haven’t discussed it much, but I can’t wait to find out what he’s going to do. I think Gates is going to be fighting to keep Sarah and trying to juggle life in the ER. He’s going to try and raise this kid, be a good doctor and find love.”
TV guilty pleasure: “I’d have to say I still watch ‘South Park.’ “