'A Gifted Man's' Patrick Wilson: 'A Lot of Surgeons Definitely Have a God Complex'

The actor, who plays a doctor on the CBS drama, speculates on why his character sees dead people.
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Patrick Wilson

On CBS’ upcoming drama A Gifted Man, Patrick Wilson stars as a surgeon at the top of his game whose dead ex-wife suddenly reappears.

The series, which premieres Friday, Sept. 23 at 8 p.m., will be equally about medicine and science with a touch of spirituality, executive producers Neal Baer and Sarah Timberman said Wednesday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour.

Why Anna (Jennifer Ehle) appears to Michael (Wilson), however, will be an ongoing mystery.

“That’s something that Neal and I talk about all the time,” Wilson says. “We’re doling it out in very small pieces as we’re finding it ourselves. Just because we alluded to the fact that she’s a ghost in the pilot, don’t assume that by the next episode that [he’s], ‘It’s OK, I’ve got this dead friend that’s hanging out with me, that’s fine.’”

Wilson noted that while Michael is a brilliant surgeon at the top of his game, his efforts to understand the spiritual world will be explored as he struggles to explore the world beyond faith and science.

“He has to have an answer for everything, which is where Pablo Schreiber’s [shaman] character comes in,” Wilson said. “That constant struggle will continue to be explored.”

Baer noted that Michael will be frustrated that he’s able to successfully diagnose patients with ailments that reflect what he has going on while, despite performing a slew of medical tests, he’s unable to crack his own case.

“He’s always wondering and putting himself in that position, ‘Well, they see and hear something,’ ” Baer told The Hollywood Reporter. “In Episode 3, there’s a character that hears voices, and he says, ‘There’s an explanation, I know it.’ Then he finds it, but he can’t find that explanation for himself.”

Wilson, meanwhile, has a theory as to why Anna appears.

“I think there’s got to be some void in his life,” he told THR. “What appealed to me outside of the spirituality of this is, is if you look at the people at the absolute top of their game -- and a lot of surgeons definitely have a God complex and there’s a reason for that -- I look at it as, what is that cost? If you’re pushing everybody out of the way to get to the top and run the show, at what cost is that? To your soul?

“Whether it’s your marriage falling apart or being distant from my [character’s] family or – all those things that are a part of my life, it’s really curious to me where that fits in to his life,” he said.

Ehle noted that the more vital Anna and Michael’s relationship becomes, the more her flaws surface.

“She can evolve,” Ehle said of her character. “She has problems and issues, too, that she’s struggling with. She doesn’t necessarily want to be here. At one point she says, ‘I’d quite like to be resting in peace’ rather than dealing with him.”

Says Baer: “Is she a ghost? Is she his conscience? Is she something else? I think that it’s going to be up to the viewer to figure out.”

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit

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