Chicago Med’s Steven Weber on his new character’s ‘interesting backstory’

CHICAGO MED -- "Fathers and Mothers, Daughters and Sons" Episode 608 -- Pictured: Steven Weber as Dr. Dean Archer -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Sisson/NBC)
CHICAGO MED -- "Fathers and Mothers, Daughters and Sons" Episode 608 -- Pictured: Steven Weber as Dr. Dean Archer -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Sisson/NBC) /

Chicago Med gets a lot more fun this week when Steven Weber joins the cast.

The TV veteran makes his debut on Wednesday as Dr. Dean Archer, a former colleague of Dr. Ethan Choi (Brian Tee) whom Choi brings in to help him run the Emergency Department. But what seems like an easy partnership is, in fact, a little more complicated.

Steven spoke to One Chicago Center about why he joined Chicago Med, the highlights so far from being in the One Chicago universe, and his longstanding relationship with NBC—he’s starred in so many of the network’s best series from Wings to Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

Plus, find out why portraying Dr. Archer is important to him personally before his first episode airs tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

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One Chicago Center: What brought Steven Weber to Chicago Med in the first place?

Steven Weber: It’s an excellent show, and the whole Chicago wheel is very cool. The character himself is a Naval veteran, a surgeon, and he’s got complexities. He’s seen action, along with his fellow character Ethan Choi, and so there’s an interesting backstory which hopefully will become more apparent and will begin to reveal itself.

It’s an interesting character. It’s one that I haven’t been playing lately, which means that it’s complicated. He is a little dark, but doing the best he can. And the bottom line is it’s a job, and that’s an actor’s life blood, obviously.

OCC: What was it like for you creating that rapport with Brian Tee and figuring out how Archer and Choi work together?

SW: First of all, it’s hard for him because he’s finally working with somebody who’s handsomer. (laughs) Not really. It’s what actors do. They immediately have to assume a kind of intimacy as indicated in the script. And it’s their one superpower that most other humans don’t possess. You have to really just, figuratively get, or literally, get very close to somebody who you’ve never met.

But the thing is that he’s a wonderful actor and extremely welcoming, as everybody on the show was—the cast and the crew as well. He made it very easy for me to assimilate. I’ve only done a couple of episodes and I have a bunch more coming, and I look forward to getting back to Chicago and bonding further.

OCC: You’ve played doctors before, but not recently, so how was your Chicago Med experience in terms of the medical procedures and terminology?

SW: In many ways, that’s the hardest part. Because what actual doctors are fluent in, which is that kind of medical terminology, that’s after years of study and application—as opposed to actors who get a script a few days in advance and have to master these terms and make it sound natural. And it’s kind of hard. I mean, you could lose teeth having to spout out lists of symptoms and certain diseases and all that stuff. (laughs)

That’s part of the challenges, and it’s fun. And you get lots of support. Everybody has been where you are, as the guest star, and if I stumble, they say don’t worry about it, happens to everybody. And I’ve been doing this so long that I’ve had so many stumbles; I’m used to it too. It always feels bad, you’re kind of letting people down, but they get it.

And at the end of the day, thank God for great editing. All those stumbles are removed and you look like you know what you’re talking about.

Chicago Med
CHICAGO MED — “Fathers and Mothers, Daughters and Sons” Episode 608 — Pictured: (l-r) Steven Weber as Dr. Dean Archer, Brian Tee as Ethan Choi — (Photo by: Elizabeth Sisson/NBC) /

OCC: Is there a favorite Steven Weber moment that fans should be looking out for?

SW: There’s one moment where I actually have to perform surgery. Brian and I are standing, and Yaya [DaCosta] is in the scene as well. We’re performing surgery on an incredibly well-made dummy representation of the actor who was playing this character who required surgery. And so that was the most fun because it was so realistic.

I had to learn how to hold the scalpel and approach it, again, in a way that’s seems credible. We have great tech advisers on the set as well. So that was particularly fun. Listen, every moment that I’m allowed to work on a film or TV set is fun, believe me.

OCC: You’ve worked on many NBC series over your career; you’ve been a star in some of their best shows for decades. What does it mean to an actor to have that kind of relationship with a network?

SW: It’s very gratifying. It’s fun to be part of something that has a kind of historical relevance in the entertainment industry. There are still some people who were there when I first arrived in the late eighties. And so there’s a degree of familiarity, and it’s wonderful. It’s great to know that you’re part of something that is big and constructive, and pays reasonably well, and continues to put out a great product. There is an aspect that is very much like coming back home. I appreciate that a lot.

OCC: Is there one particular TV series that you get asked about the most?

SW: I get asked about Wings the most and then The Shining, which I did a miniseries version of [for ABC] in the nineties. I get asked about that a lot.

Studio 60 was one of the things I’m most proud of, but for some reason, people just kind of gravitate mostly to the things that I guess [were] on in the background, that didn’t require that much concentration, which was Wings. It was like a constant. And so I get that a lot, especially because people still watch it. With the children of the people who were the kind of demographic in the nineties, they’re still watching.

OCC: What resonates with you the most about your Chicago Med experience?

SW: In regards to Chicago Med and specifically my character, and also the character of Ethan Choi, I think there’s a lot to be mined from the fact that these people were serving their country at one time and endured some challenges. They saw action. They were witnesses to the darker side of serving the country and they brought it back with them. And that’s actually a cause to which I’m connected.

I work with an organization called New Directions for Veterans, and they are very much concerned with helping veterans who are homeless, helping them if they’re sick, helping them financially. I’ve been working with them for about eight years, and so this role is really close to me. And I think it’s incredibly responsible for the show and for NBC to start touching upon those issues.

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For the latest Chicago Med season 6 spoilers and news, plus more on the entire series, follow the Chicago Med category at One Chicago Center.