Chicago Med’s Colin Donnell on Connor’s turbulent season 4

CHICAGO MED -- "The Things We Do" Episode 412 -- Pictured: Colin Donnell as Connor Rhodes -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Sisson/NBC)
CHICAGO MED -- "The Things We Do" Episode 412 -- Pictured: Colin Donnell as Connor Rhodes -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Sisson/NBC) /

Chicago Med star Colin Donnell gives his opinion on the drama Connor Rhodes has been through in Chicago Med season 4 – and if Connor has a breaking point.

Connor Rhodes is no stranger to chaos, but Chicago Med season 4 seems to delight in making his life as difficult as possible.

After passing up a major career move to stay at the hospital, Connor is fighting with supervisors, wondering if his girlfriend slept with his father, and now it’s not clear if he accidentally injured her or she might have done it to herself. Plus, he still has to save lives every day.

Colin Donnell has become an expert at juggling Connor’s various responsibilities, issues and all of his baggage—so One Chicago Center spoke to him ahead of tonight’s new episode to see what he thinks of Connor’s life right now and how he’s handling all these plot twists.

Check out what Colin had to tell us in our interview below, then don’t miss a new Chicago Med at 8 p.m. tonight on NBC.

More from One Chicago Center

One Chicago Center: Connor got yet another new job description in Chicago Med season 4. How has his latest job change affected you as an actor?

Colin Donnell: One of the cool things about this year is that it’s brought Connor back down on the main floor with everybody, and sort of back to his roots in trauma surgery, so that’s been exciting for me. I always love doing the big gruesome surgeries, for lack of a better term—the real stuff that was coming in the door and it wasn’t a planned-out heart procedure. They did a really good job at marrying the trauma side of things and the cardiothoracic side of things this year.

Once again we’re seeing him fight with the hospital board and his supervisors, this time over the hybrid OR. Do you think he’d ever take on that kind of authority himself, or is he just better off being the person rebelling against it?

Colin Donnell: I don’t know if he’d be a very good administrator. I don’t think he really has the professional capabilities as of yet to be in a position like Latham, where he’s making really tough decisions. I think he’s a little too shooting from the hip at times still.

Being in charge of his own area is a really great thing for him. As much as he’s fighting with Dr. Lanik and sometimes Goodwin over control of what the hybrid OR should be, he’s so possessive and he really loves the fact that it’s his. It’s his whole reason for being at Chicago Med this year.

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Speaking of Latham, Chicago Med fans have hardly seen him this season because Ato Essandoh is busy with other roles. He gets referenced, but he’s not there with Connor. Has not having him around changed how Connor’s developed?

From a personal standpoint, I miss having Ato around set. I think he’s such a brilliant actor and I loved the way the two characters interacted and helped each other grow. I’m very begrudgingly happy for his success on his new show.

I think there is something. [Connor]’s off a little bit on a island and there isn’t so much of a person like Latham in his life right now, to really bounce those ideas off him. He doesn’t have a mentor for the first time, really. First season since Med started, he’s a little bit out on his own, which provides its own path for growth for him.

The bulk of Chicago Med season 4 has been about his relationship with Dr. Ava Bekker (Norma Kuhling). What was your reaction to the Ava and Cornelius storyline? Because it’s creepy and uncomfortable to watch.

I personally think it makes for some incredible drama. People make dicey decisions all the time in real life and not speaking for that character at all, I think it’s very interesting to see the way they’ve navigated the withholding of information and [how] little bits and pieces of what could be the truth come out.

It’s been fun to walk down this winding path of what’s true? What’s not true? Who’s lying? Who’s being honest with Connor? It’s been a really fun thing to navigate through this season.

It seems every time Connor is angry with Ava, something happens that makes him forget it. We saw that in this most recent episode with the surgical accident. Does he have a breaking point where he would finally walk away from her?

I do think there’s a bit of a destructive pattern in their relationship. They do have an enormous amount of affection and respect for each other. But this sort of goes back to one of Connor’s biggest MOs, is that he really feels the need sometimes to play the hero for people. Especially when he feels he has done [Ava] wrong.

We don’t know exactly what happened inside the surgery, but it was an accident and he was holding the scalpel and he saw she was in pain. So his first instinct was to go and try to make things right. Aside from all the drama they’ve been going through personally, he feels a responsibility to care for her as a human being.

You’ve lived with Connor Rhodes for four seasons now, and through almost constant changes in his life and his work at the hospital. What have you taken away from playing him?

This is certainly the longest I’ve consistently played a role before. To think that we’re going to break 80 episodes [in season 4] is incredible, and I think that the episodes just keep getting better and better. Based on how many people continue to watch the show, I think our audience keeps growing and growing because the show keeps getting better and better, and that’s the most exciting part for me.

There’s a great family here. I love going to work every day and I think a large part of that is entirely due to the fact are the people that are a part of our cast and crew and producers and writers and directors that come in. Everybody is wonderful and committed to creating an entertaining and very meaningful series and that really kind of fills me up.

Over the course of a 20 to 22-episode season, it’s a long time to be away from home and sometimes away from family, but it’s an amazing place to work. And when we get new scripts and see how big they are, and we see how exciting they are and sometimes how full of important messages they are, it really keeps us moving forward. And we get very excited to shoot the next episode and continue making great TV.

Is there anything you want to see for Connor by the end of this season of Chicago Med? Where do you want to have him go from here?

I’m really curious as to how this whole relationship is going to go with Ava. It seems as though Connor had a career crisis, and is he finally in a place where he’s satisfied with the role he has within the hospital, which is really cool.

I’d love to see how he interacts with not just Ava, which is a large part of his storyline, but specifically coming up in the next episode, Will and Connor have a large storyline that is one of our biggest this season.

It’s exciting for me to be able to work with Nick [Gehlfuss] and Torrey [DeVitto] and Brian [Tee] and all our cast. Any chance that I get to work with anyone I don’t normally see on a daily basis is exciting for me. I just like to be surprised and kind of roll with it and see what comes next.

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For the latest Chicago Med season 4 spoilers and news, plus more on the entire series, follow the Chicago Med category at One Chicago Center.