In 1994, a young, Hollywood-born actor named Noah Wyle was given his biggest break yet: a leading role in NBC’s brand new medical drama, “ER.” While his character, the clumsy, bumbling Dr. John Carter, began as mere comic relief, Wyle’s knack for realism and ability to memorize endless lines of complicated medical jargon allowed Dr. Carter to mature throughout the series.
“He constantly changed and evolved,” noted Wyle. “If I had stayed being the comic relief character who was constantly screwing up, that may have been frustrating. He kept growing as I kept growing.”
Dr. Carter – and, by extension, Noah Wyle – quickly became one of the show’s most popular characters. Throughout Wyle’s tenure at “ER,” the audience consistently rooted for Carter, seeing him through addiction and rehab, a brutal stabbing and tough recovery and, later, all the way to the Congo on a humanitarian mission. A central member of the “ER” cast, Noah Wyle currently holds the record for playing a doctor longer than anyone else in a primetime medical series.
Paging Dr. Noah Wyle
Impersonating a doctor for so many years undoubtedly left its mark on actor Noah Wyle, who must have picked up a thing or two in all that tedious memorization. The test came while shooting an episode of “ER” on location in Africa: life imitated art and Wyle was thrust into a real life medical emergency. Between takes, an on-set medic succumb to the suffocating heat and passed out. Wyle didn’t hesitate – he grabbed a working IV and expertly assisted the fallen man.
“I stuck him with a 14-gauge needle and revived him with a bag of saline, and then I did three or four more that day,” remarked the actor. “There was enough that we picked up through osmosis so I could actually, practically, be of use in certain circumstances.”