With COVID-19, the television industry has been hit hard with delays in production and series premieres being pushed back to later in the year and early next year.
This left the networks and streaming services scrambling to find a way to show new content while they deal with these numerous delays. One way they did find to deal with the situation is to import shows from Canada to air in the United States. One such series is the CTV drama Transplant which is currently airing on NBC.
The series follows Dr. Bashir Hamed, a Syrian doctor, who with his sister flee their homeland and become refugees in Canada. Transplant follows Hamed as he has to redo his medical training and all of the ups and downs that come with that as well as his personal life.
Also starring in this dramatic series is the wonderfully talented Laurence Leboeuf. Some of you may know her from the Canadian series Trauma or the critically acclaimed police drama 19-2. Laurence plays Dr. Magalie “Mags” Leblanc.
We had the chance to sit down with the Canadian born actress to talk about the series Transplant, what it’s like to play her character and what separates Transplant from other medical dramas.
Pop Culture Principle – What type of research, if any, did you do to prepare for this role?
Laurence Leboeuf – We have a medical consultant on set. We had some bootcamps before we started shooting the series. Those bootcamps were amazing and it was really great that we got to do those. One night, myself and Hamza Haq got to go and be at the hospital for one of the doctor’s shift. The shift I think we did was from 2 in the morning until 5 in the morning. Although nothing happened that night, it was still nice to see the doctors in action and in their element.
Pop Culture Principle – Was it hard for you to get used to and saying the medical terminology and jargon?
Laurence Leboeuf – Yes! I think that was the biggest challenge for me. With my character Mags, I wanted her to talk really fast and never really think about the answer that she was going to give or the prognostics that she was going to make. I really wanted the dialogue to come out super quickly, so it was all about really learning my lines. It was really challenging to be confident in saying things that I really truly don’t understand.
Pop Culture Principle – Did you have any issues with actually going through the medical procedures on camera?
Laurence Leboeuf – I am actually very squeamish. When I watch these videos, I am very squeamish, I don’t like blood and I’m not a fan of the insides of bodies, but for some reason when I am on set, something clicks and I don’t think about it. Even though the blood looks so real or you have to do stitches with a fake arm, it looks and feels so real, but for some reason I don’t get squeamish.
Pop Culture Principle – Can you tell us a little bit about your character Dr. Magalie Leblanc?
Laurence Leboeuf – My character is a know it all. She needs data and she needs facts. She would be the first one to raise her hand. She’s super smart and very talented at what she does. She’s very passionate and very dedicated to her work almost to a fault.
Pop Culture Principle – Can you name one similarity and one difference between you and your character Dr. Magalie Leblanc?
Laurence Leboeuf – I think the passion that we both have for the work that we do is something we have in common. The difference would be that I am not as much of a workaholic as she is. I need a healthy social life outside of work and that’s something that Mags hasn’t been able to work out yet.
Pop Culture Principle – Mags really pushes herself at work, sometimes to her detriment. Why do you think she pushes herself so hard? Is it to prove to the other doctors that she belongs at the hospital? Is she trying to prove to herself that she belongs?
Laurence Leboeuf – I think she just wants to be good at her job. I think she wants to keep learning and she wants to do the best that she can and she always wants to be better. I don’t think she’s trying to prove anything to anyone because it’s very clear that she has a place there and she knows that she is talented and that she knows what she is doing. I think it’s really just about being the best that she can be.
Pop Culture Principle – It seems since Bash’s arrival, he’s definitely stirred things up and challenged the way Mags thinks and operates. Does she feel threatened by him or does she see his passion for medicine as well and use that to better herself as a doctor?
Laurence Leboeuf – She’s very thrown back by his arrival. The way that he operates is so different from her way of doing things. He’s from a completely different background, but she sees this guy who is extremely talented and obviously an amazing doctor. I think she’s intrigued by that and she respects that kind of talent in her field. I think she sees that and she also sees an opportunity to learn new skills, so she’s very open to learning from Bash.
Pop Culture Principle – As the season progresses, will we see her begin to trust Bash more and their friendship continue to blossom?
Laurence Leboeuf – Yes, definitely. We will see them team up for certain procedures and patients during the rest of the season and we will definitely see that relationship grow.
Pop Culture Principle – We are starting to see the beginnings of a friendship between Mags and June. There’s a bit of friendly competitiveness there as well. Would you agree?
Laurence Leboeuf – Yes, totally. I think that is one of the great things about the show Transplant. I love the subtleties of some of the relationships that they are developing and have established and the relationship between Mags and June is one of them. It’s nice to see two very strong and opinionated women on this show.
I think these characters are exchanging different opinions wanting the same things. The goal is to make the patient better and to succeed in that. I think that they are both seeing that and therefore when they team up together, they are invincible. I think they are seeing that when they do come together, they are amazing together, therefore I think their friendship is going to continue to grow.
Pop Culture Principle – Not to get political at all, but there are connections with the situation of the main character Dr. Bashir “Bash” Hamed and what is going on in today’s world. Would you agree with that?
Laurence Leboeuf – I do think immigration has been a very hot topic in our society in the last several years. I think it’s a very important subject and I think that is one of the things Transplant is doing in the show. It’s so rare that we get to see the journey of someone who has had to leave everything behind and really start over from scratch and rebuild a life. We are not aware of that reality and we rarely see it on television and I think Transplant is right on telling that story right now and what’s going on in the world for sure.
Pop Culture Principle – What do you think separates Transplant from other medical dramas?
Laurence Leboeuf – This series is not re-inventing the wheel of the medical show, which by the way, is an endless well of telling amazing stories, but for our show, Bash’s journey and story is very unique. I also think that the stories we tell with our patients are very unique from anti-vaxxers to mental health issues and racism. I think it makes the show very unique and different.
Pop Culture Principle – Do you think Transplant being compared to other medical dramas hurts or helps the series or a little bit of both?
Laurence Leboeuf – So far, I would have to say it must have helped because the show is succeeding. It’s doing really well in Canada and now it’s airing in the United States. It’s what I said before, there is such an endless well of stories when it comes to these types of shows. You can make a hospital show using a common recipe used in other shows, but it still succeeds, so I would have to say in this case, it has helped.
Pop Culture Principle – As we continue to live with and deal with this pandemic, has working on Transplant playing a doctor given you more perspective and appreciation for the people who work in the healthcare industry?
Laurence Leboeuf – I already thought they were all amazing. I think what they are doing right now with COVID and the pandemic is beyond human and amazing. I have so much respect for the healthcare industry and everyone involved with it.
Pop Culture Principle – What can fans look forward to with the rest of Season 1 of Transplant?
Laurene Leboeuf – It’s always hard to say without giving anything away. I will say, the show will dive deeper into everybody’s relationship and Bash’s journey. We have some interesting cases coming up, some twists and tons of other amazing stories coming your way. Stay tuned!
A huge thank you to Laurence Leboeuf for taking the time out of her busy schedule to talk with us about Transplant. The series is currently airing on NBC every Tuesday night at 10/9c!
**All photos courtesy of Yan Turcotte/Fabrice Gaetan/Sphere Media/CTV/NBC**