While “ER” was an ensemble cast, the fictional hospital team revolved around a single character: Dr. Mark Greene, played by veteran actor and California native Anthony Edwards. Edwards was considered the star of the show, beginning as a Chief Resident and moving up to an attending physician within a year of broadcast premiere. As Dr. Greene, Edwards charmed audiences with his earnest sincerity, compassion and willingness to confront difficult situations.
“This well-intentioned, overworked person who is always trying to do the right thing and loves medicine,” Edwards said, describing his character. “The fact that he loved it so much is what really attracted me to [the role]… There was going to be probably every problem put in front of him, that he was going to have to face. That’s what the adventure became.”
Edwards spent eight consecutive years playing Dr. Mark Greene, and was even given the chance to direct several episodes, an opportunity that ultimately lead him to his future career as a television and film producer. Amongst his many accolades, Anthony Edwards was awarded a Golden Globe and two SAG Awards for his moving portrayal of “ER’s” most unforgettable character.
The Longest Death Scene in TV History
Beloved by both viewers and critics alike, audiences were heartbroken when Dr. Mark Greene was diagnosed with terminal cancer during “ER’s” seventh season. What followed was the longest death scene in television history. Viewers watched as Dr. Greene, played by actor Anthony Edwards, endured a two-year battle with brain cancer, ultimately succumbing to the disease during the show’s emotional ninth season.
“It was a horrible way to go,” remembered Edwards. “But if you are going to go, they let Mark Greene go in a way that was beautiful.”
While the loss was substantial, the show’s decision to confront the issues associated with grave terminal illness head on was a brave one. As Dr. Greene, Anthony Edwards put a public face on a trying and complicated issue, playing out one of life’s darkest moments with grace and humility.