A different romance for Weaver heats up 'ER' finale
May 3, 2001
ER's Laura Innes is psyched to be a lesbian.
More precisely, Innes digs it that her previously straight character, taciturn Dr. Kerry Weaver, is having an affair this season with colleague Kim Legaspi (Elizabeth Mitchell), a gay psychiatrist.
"When you're doing a show for a long time, you start looking for things that feel original and fresh," says Innes, in her sixth season as County General's chief of emergency medicine. "You have to work hard not to hit a wall."
For Weaver, whose limp and cane have never been explained, "this choice was an interesting one. She has only had a couple of relationships - all short-term and with men. I found the storyline entirely plausible. It's much more interesting than any guy they would have brought in for me. As an actor, uncharted territory is more exciting."
ER producers John Wells, Neal Baer and Jack Orman pitched the storyline to Innes last summer. Weaver's big breakthrough will occur on May 17's seventh-season finale of the NBC smash.
In real life, Innes has been married for 12 years to actor David Brisben (he plays the recurring role of ER anesthesiologist Dr. Babock). They have a 10-year-old son.
TV's top-scripted series, ER is averaging 22.2 million viewers at 10 p.m. Thursdays - behind only CBS's Survivor II (28.5 million.)
That's down from last season's 24.9 million, when ER finished behind the Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday editions of ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
Back to Weaver, her one lip lock with Legaspi was no big whup, Innes says.
"As an actor, it's all the same to me. I'm more interested in understanding the feeling than in what's happening. . . . With Weaver and Legaspi, there's good chemistry. Elizabeth is a wonderful actress."
As for the roller-coaster relationship, "I like the way it has progressed," Innes says. "They are, dare I say, good role models. They're real people who are smart and nice and good at their jobs, struggling with something."
Innes struggles with the fact that ER has yet to address the source of Weaver's disability.
After six seasons of it "just being part of Weaver's character," Innes says it's time to give viewers a nugget's explanation.
"It's gotten to the point where it feels a little coy. Let's just address it one way or another. It doesn't have to be any big dramatic thing. People are so curious about it."
Looking to expand her skills, Innes has directed three episodes of ER and two of NBC's West Wing (co-honchoed by John Wells.)
Here's a cool crossover: Weaver as surgeon general under President Bartlet (Martin Sheen.)
"She'd be great in the White House. She'd tear it up," Innes says. "She would worship Bartlet. They're on the same page. He's obviously more affable than her, but their agenda is the same.
Laura Innes and Elizabeth Mitchell in the Media
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