Q&A Interview with “Private Practice” star Taye Diggs (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)
September 15, 2011 by Dennis Amith
Actor Taye Diggs has come a long way since his acting debut in 1996 for the series “New York Undercover”. The actor would become well known for his film roles in “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” and “Go” but Taye Diggs would eventually become known for his role on drama series with character roles in hit drama series “Ally McBeal”, “The West Wing”, “Kevin Hill” and “Day Break”.
And now, Taye Diggs plays the role of Dr. Sam Bennett in “Private Practice”, as one of the founding partners of Oceanside Wellness Group and ex-husband of Naomi Bennett.
In season three, we had the opportunity to see Sam and Addison Montgomery (played by Kate Walsh) become closer, but in season four, how far will their relationship go? And will Sam and Addison reveal their relationship to Naomi and their partners?
With the fifth season of “Private Practice” to air on ABC on Sept. 29th, “Private Practice – The Complete Fourth Season” DVD box set is planned for release on Sept. 13th.
The following is a media Q&A featuring Taye Diggs reflecting on season four of “Private Practice”.
What can you tell us about Season Four of Private Practice?
TAYE: I am very proud of the show and I’m very proud of the writing this year. There are some remarkable storylines, including some heartbreaking scenes from KaDee Strickland. She did a tremendous job in Season Four and I’m very proud of her. Our television show is a lot of fun, but I’m always filled with pride when we get the opportunity to represent serious issues. I’m not going to say what happens because I don’t want to give away a major storyline for this season – but I will tell you that you will be shocked when you see it.
What happens to Dr. Sam Bennett in Season Four? Will he finally get together with Addison Montgomery?
TAYE: There’s definitely a possibility for Sam and Addison to get together in Season Four. Obviously, the sexual tension is still there. There are a lot of furtive glances, loaded looks and whispers. Will they get together? You’ll just have to watch it and see for yourself.
Would you like to see Addison and Sam together as a couple?
TAYE: I think it would be interesting to see them together because they have very different personalities. In the past, Addison has always been a little freer in life – but Sam is a little more buttoned-up. I’d love to see what that chemistry could yield.
Could Sam still be holding a torch for Naomi?
TAYE: I cannot say. Naomi and Addison are both beautiful women. There’s a history with between Sam and Naomi. Well, they were married. But there’s a new-ness and an actual love that exists with Addison.
Is Sam ready to be a grandfather this season?
TAYE: He has no choice. He has to be ready because that’s what the writing says!
How does it feel to play a grandfather when in real life, you’ve only recently become a father?
TAYE: It’s a little strange, that’s for sure. My son was born in 2009, so I’m nowhere near to becoming a grandfather.
Do you enjoy being a father?
TAYE: Fatherhood is amazing. And I’m really excited about it because it’s just going to keep getting better. Fatherhood is like nothing I could have ever expected. It’s wonderful.
Were the doctors in the hospital where your son was born aware of your role on Private Practice?
TAYE: I think the nurses were more aware than the doctors. They gave us a really nice care package to take home with extra blankets and diapers, which was nice. It brought to the surface the respect that I have for the people who do this as a career.
Did you always dream about becoming a father?
TAYE: Yes, I always knew I wanted a child. Or should I say, children!
Who inspired you to act when you were growing up?
TAYE: My mom was in Community Theater where I grew up in Rochester, Upstate New York. She gave me the bug. She raised me and my four brothers and sisters, and then she went back to school for theater and dance. She was a very inspiring lady.
Did you have any crazy jobs when you were starting out in the industry?
TAYE: Oh, sure! I was everything from a janitor to a sandwich maker. I worked in donut stores and even at Disneyland in Tokyo. What did I do there? The show was called Sebastian’s Caribbean Carnival and I had to wear some wild outfits. I was the M.C. who’d sing Day-O and other crazy Caribbean songs.
When you first joined Private Practice, did you know Dr. Sam Bennett would be such a complex character?
TAYE: I knew that my character would be multifaceted because that’s how [Private Practice Executive Producer] Shonda Rhimes works. However, I didn’t know how complex he would become, and I’m not sure the writers knew either. When I started on the show, I was given some background to the character – but I had no idea where he would go from there. I only found out when I opened up my script every week.
What research did you do for the role?
TAYE: We have a great team of production staff on the show. They scheduled for me to view some actual surgeries, which was a great help. Obviously, I wasn’t standing right next to the bodies during the surgeries, but I could observe what it’s like to be there. I also got a few DVDs and a lot of literature on the subject. I was very well researched by the time we started shooting.
What goes through your mind when you view a surgery?
TAYE: It was a complete reality check to see what heart surgeons do for a living. It was also a reality check to see an actual body on the surgery table. To be honest, I felt a little removed because I am so desensitized from watching so many surgeries on television. In practice, it’s much more boring than watching TV, although it’s definitely eye opening for sure.
Do you have to learn medical jargon for your role as a doctor?
TAYE: I do, and it’s tough. That’s something I always struggle with, so I always have to get my scripts a couple of days in advance. I need to really memorize those words because we try to be extremely accurate on the show.
Do you think you could perform some of the medical procedures your character talks about on Private Practice?
TAYE: No way. I get extremely nervous when they set me up with the fake blood and the fake heart on set because it feels like we’re really going into surgery. It feels very real. I’ll be performing and I’ll notice my hands are shaking because it’s so nerve-wracking.
Not only are you an actor, a singer and a performer, but you’re also an author. What can you tell us about your book?
TAYE: When I was a kid, I grew up in a neighborhood where nobody looked like me. I was the only black kid in my school, so when I got older I wrote a poem about what it felt like to look different. I got with my best friend, Shane Evans – a great illustrator – and we wrote a children’s book about self-esteem called Chocolate Me.
Do you see yourself as a role model for other black people?
TAYE: I don’t see myself as a role model, but I gladly accept and understand that I am – and I don’t shy away from that. I think both of Shonda’s shows – Private Practice and Grey’s Anatomy – are great for representing African-American people. Shonda sets a great example for people of any color, creed or background. I like that she’s setting such a strong example with having such a diverse cast. She mixes up relationships and represents things that are happening in the real world, which is what I love about working with her. She’s fantastic.
Private Practice – the Complete Fourth Season is available on DVD on Sept. 13th.
Photo credit: ABC/Andrew MacPherson
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