WonderCon: George Young on ‘Containment’ and Saying Medical Jargon Like He Means It
George Young (Casualty) plays Dr. Victor Cannerts in The CW’s new series, Containment. The show, which also stars David Gyasi (Interstellar), Christina Marie Moses (Starship: Apocalypse, Starship: Rising), Chris Wood (The Vampire Diaries), Claudia Black (The Originals, Farscape), Hanna Mangan Lawrence (Spartacus: War of the Damned), Kristen Gutoskie (Beaver Falls) and Trevor St. John (One Live to Live), follows an viral epidemic that breaks out in Atlanta, leaving a large portion of the city quarantined and those stuck on the inside fighting for their lives.
His Dr. Cannerts is on the front lines of trying to treat the epidemic and as he said at WonderCon, everyone on the show is trying to make it as real as possible, except for the smells that come with dissecting a body. “I would’ve been able to do it,” he said at the roundtable to discuss the show.
In this interview, Young talks about the show, research and the struggle it is to get all of the medical terminology down.
‘Containment’ premieres on The CW on April 19th
Your character, Dr. Cannerts, is from the CDC and he discovers this pathogen, this illness, from one of the other doctors who patient zero was in contact with. What did you do to prepare for this role?
George Young: There’s a lot of medical terminology that I had to study up on. And what is great about the show, we’re trying to make it as real as possible, because it’s something that can actually happen. There’s Zika, Ebola, West Nile virus. So, we talked to the CDC people. I had one on ones with the CDC, me and Claudia Black. I had a med-tech because you’ll see later on, I do all sorts of medical techniques and we don’t want people to go, “Oh, that’s not how you do it.” We wanted to be as real as possible, I want it to be as real as possible for my character. So, we have a technician going, “This is how you do it.”
And I’m saying all these medical terms, encephalophy, blah, blah, blah while I’m also doing all these things like hooking up the IVs, doing the injections, etc. and it’s a lot of multitasking for a guy and I can ‘t handle it. [laughs] It’s hard.
There’s a scene where you’re doing an autopsy on patient zero and something explodes, what was your reaction?
George Young: Just the lengths they go to to make sure it looks real and feels real for the audience. The body when you see it, I’m not sure how much you’re allowed to show on network television of the cadaver. All they didn’t have, thank goodness, was the smell. I would’ve been able to do it.
But you are there and you’ve got the organs and obviously me George, I’m like, “Oh God, oh God, of God!” But I couldn’t show that because I’m Dr. Cannerts and I’ve done this all before. So that gets me the Emmy. [laughs]
How difficult is it to memorize all this medical jargon? It has to come out of your mouth like you’ve been saying it for years.
George Young: Exactly. It’s not just memorizing and it’s not like a memory test, you have to actually say as if you mean it and understand it. You just have to understand it. So, I’m literally studying, I’m looking up these words, understanding what they mean, talking to the medical advisors about it and then I have to do it in this fake British accent as well, which is a nightmare to continue, but I’ve been told I have to keep it. [laughs]
And also, our med-tech is American obviously, so when they tell me how to pronounce a word I then have to go to one of my best friends who is a doctor in real life and ask him how do you say this word in British because it’s a completely different way of saying it sometimes. So there’s that issue as well. And then obviously saying it like I mean it and I’m understanding it.
Did you research any films like Contagion or Outbreak?
George Young: I’ve seen Contagion and Outbreak. And movies, they get to develop it within 90 minutes, 120 minutes. What I love about the show is that you get to develop it through a story, you get to develop each side, each character and explore these different scenarios and you might not have a luxury in a movie.
I saw the Belgian series that it was based on. I saw the first and last episode, I book ended them. I don’t know that’s a term but now it is… You say with confidence it is. [laughs] I didn’t watch the whole thing because I didn’t want to get influenced too much because our characters are very different from that series and we go off in different tangents from the series as well.