As fans of the sophomore TNT medical drama “HawthoRNe” know, the episode that aired on Tuesday (July 6) was a tumultuous one for Michael Vartan‘s character, surgeon Dr. Tom Wakefield.
Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading now.
It began with an auto accident that injured Wakefield and killed his pal Paul (Kenneth Choi), and ended with Wakefield in a passionate clinch with head nurse Christina Hawthorne (Jada Pinkett Smith) that culminated in him proposing marriage.
“The good doctor is having a hands-on relationship with the head of nursing,” Vartan tells Zap2it. “It’s television. I guess it was just a matter of time, and they decided to do it now rather than later. Tom and Christina are getting it on.”
Asked if this plot twist is going to cause any problems with Smith’s husband, actor Will Smith, Vartan says, “I don’t think so. Even last year, we liked to joke that Will is our ghost producer, because, although his name isn’t on the actual project, he definitely lends his talent to it, which is great.
“The more Will Smith you can get, the better off you are. He, from the get-go, realized you can go two ways on TV. You can either do the ‘Moonlighting’ thing and keep the characters apart forever and let the audience beg for them together — ‘Alias’ kind of did that between my character and Jennifer Garner‘s — or you can just do it.
“I think the reason they chose to go for it, in our case, is the work environment is is so intense that a peaceful, sweet little love story is almost impossible. That’s why they decided to do it, because it does bring so much conflict in between the two, with the power struggle in their positions, the hierarchy, all that stuff.”
As for not-so-sweet love story itself, Vartan says, “They have a full-on, very complicated, very passionate, very physical, very messy, very aggressive, full of fights and make-ups and break-ups, very fun, kind of nuts, relationship.”
Since Will Smith is fine with all this, that leaves the question of Vartan’s fiancee, Lauren Skaar, whom he met in a Whole Foods parking lot when he “went up to her and begged her to take my email. She did, and the rest is history. She had no idea who I was, which made it even better.”
According to Vartan, the “HawthoRNe” love scenes won’t be a problem for Skaar.
“She’s a mature, wonderful young lady,” says Vartan, “who understands the sometimes not-so-fun part of my business.”
But the future might be another matter.
“I’ll tell you this,” Vartan says, “now that I am getting married, I will definitely not be down for that anymore. Before, I didn’t care; it was part of the job. If it’s going to make the person I’m in love with feel really uncomfortable, I totally get it. I wouldn’t want her to do it, so I have to honor that commitment.”
But Vartan is still a showbiz realist.
“Look,” he says, “if someone comes knocking on my door for ‘Titanic 2,’ and they’re offering me $2 million to do it, and there’s a love scene, I’ll sit my fiancee down and say, ‘Honey, this will pay for the kids’ college tuition, so let’s just do it.’
“Love scenes, they’re so completely unromantic. As you know, there’s a crew of 30 around. There’s a boom microphone up your rear end. It’s more of a mechanical exercise than anything. But it’s still not fun for the other person.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been committed and having to do a love scene with anyone, and I can only imagine how it would make her feel. Can’t be fun. I wouldn’t like it, for sure.”
Vartan says that the women in question have a relationship of their own.
“Lauren has met Jada several times,” he says, “and they love each other. They’re good friends. Lauren knows what a wonderful wife Jada is to Will and what an amazing relationship they have. This is so not dangerous, because these are two people who are madly in love with their spouses.
“They’re just going to have to do this for a couple of hours on set, and both parties understand that it’s completely a professional situation.”
As for Vartan’s real-life romance, he says he and Skaar are planning to wed next April in Newport, Beach, Calif.. It might be by the sea or in a hotel, but it won’t be on a boat.
“A boat could be a logistical nightmare,” Vartan says. “Can you imagine, at the moment where the bride is supposed to say ‘I do,’ she vomits on me?”
Photo credit: TNT