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Manish Dayal helmed the February 22 episode of The Resident, marking his first time directing an episode of television. Manish directed one of the most game-changing moments of the season — Trevor revealing to the world that he’s Billie’s son.
HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Manish about taking a break from his normal acting gig to direct an episode of The Resident. He gave inside details about the episode’s key scenes and revealed what’s next for Devon and Leela after her sister’s jaw-dropping request. Read our Q&A below:
How long have you been wanting to direct an episode of the show?
Manish Dayal: It’s been something I’ve been after since day one probably. I remember having a conversation with Amy [Holden Jones] during the pilot five years ago. Directing has always been a big passion of mine, and something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I let the powers that be know very early on here, and I’m just so grateful that everyone’s supported me as well as the network and producers. That’s kind of how we got here.
This was a really pivotal episode on a lot of fronts. How did it feel to be entrusted with that responsibility to tell these stories?
Manish Dayal: It was incredible. It was a terrific experience because a lot of storylines came full circle in this episode, particularly the one with Billie and Trevor. I always like to say that at the center of this episode is the relationship between a mother and a son. That is a very important relationship, and I think it’s one that we can all identify with, and perhaps the hope is that we can all find ourselves a little bit in this story. It’s a powerful storyline and deeply personal. Jessica Lucas and Miles Fowler really brought their A-game, and they’re terrific in this episode. Along with this storyline are two others that are happening concurrently. There is a nursing shortage at Chastain, and then Jessica is trying to spread her wings as a nurse. I think the theme of the episode really is about people trying to overcome boundaries and overcoming things that challenge them in the past. I think that’s ultimately what the whole episode was about, so I really liked to string that theme throughout all the storylines in the episode.
That scene when Trevor comes forward as Billie’s son was an incredible moment. Did you have one way you wanted to approach that scene or were there multiple ways?
Manish Dayal: To me, there were a number of ways to do it. I think what excited me most about that scene was actually him coming face-to-face with Porter for the first time ever. He’s learning who he is. He’s learning how he came into this world. This is the first time he is coming face-to-face with his birth father. I can’t even imagine being in a situation like that, but ultimately, what he’s doing in this scene is protecting his mother at the expense of himself. To me, that is the ultimate role reversal from a parent and child. Typically, we see our parents take care of children, but here you see Trevor take on a new role. It’s pretty powerful what he does and how he confronts Porter. And not just Porter, but the entire medical board and Porter’s family.
The Resident always has crazy cases. There was that harness accident at the beginning of the episode. Was it fun for you to direct a physical type of stunt?
Manish Dayal: It was very fun and challenging. When we first were tackling it, it just started coming alive in my head. I started just drawing how I imagined it, how I saw it, and then those drawings turned into storyboards. With a storyboard artist, I created about 45 slides that illustrate the entire sequence. We brought it down and focused on ultimately the syndrome that we’re talking about, which is the suspension syndrome. She falls 70 or 80 feet, something like that, which lodges her in the harness. So just sort of tackling that part of the episode was a lot of fun. We had to really decide where we were going to shoot it, whether it was going to be done practically or on stage. We did both. We did all the exterior shots practically at the High Museum and anything where she was actually falling or flipping we did on stage. It was a really wild and tremendous experience to just wrap my brain around it. Just to see how everybody came together to make this happen, it was pretty inspiring.
Leela’s sister makes a game-changing request at the end of the episode — she asks for Leela’s egg to have a baby. How do you think Devon’s going to react to that request?
Manish Dayal: I think it’s an interesting question. I think on one end, Devon wants a kid himself. He’s said that before on the show, and I think he’s aware that he and Leela are in different places in their lives. She’s still very new as a doctor and she’s ambitious. Right now, she has to give all of her focus and attention to her job. The idea of having a child is not something that she’s considering. I think for Devon, this whole idea is going to be pretty shocking. I can imagine that it would provide a lot of conflict between the two of them because it’s something that he wants, and she’s just not ready for it, but it’s going to happen in this other way. I think the conflict between them is ultimately what helps both of them really define and figure out what it is that they want in their life. Perhaps that’s going to cause a cause some friction between the two of them as they reevaluate their relationship.
Sometimes you can love someone and be in love with someone, but you’re not in the same place in your life. Those timelines don’t always match up.
Manish Dayal: Totally. I think that’s exactly what they’re experiencing because they do love each other, but they want different things. Ultimately, you have to chase what you’re after.
Devon was at a conference for the whole episode, so he missed the entire Trevor reveal at the hospital. Will this Billie and Trevor bombshell change things for everyone?
Manish Dayal: I think what’s so special about the show is all the characters on the show have such dynamic and specific relationships. I think one of the most important and valuable things about the show is the relationships that all the doctors have with each other. It makes them just very dynamically different, and when this tragic event happens to one of our own, I think there’s a mutual support. There is this sense of community. Even though Devon wasn’t there, I’m sure the news spread and he is aware of what’s going on. He, of course, offers his sympathies to Billie. I think that there’s a sense of community amongst this cast of characters.
We also got a Billie and Conrad moment where they bonded. He was very supportive, even when she was hesitant to open up.
Manish Dayal: I think my perspective in this episode, at least, is to really hone in on this friendship in a moment where Billie would otherwise look to her friend Nic, who’s no longer with us. In this instance, Conrad becomes a friend to her and somebody that she is deciding whether she can trust or not. I think that’s what’s so important about that moment with them in the cafe scene. It’s about how is she going to reveal this information? And is she going to reveal it? I think that she trusts him, and I think that’s sort of where a new level of their friendship is born.
You’ve directed one episode of The Resident, have you already started talking to the producers about another one?
Manish Dayal: Oh, you know it. No doubt. I really enjoyed the experience. It’s something that I feel very comfortable with and I loved it. I want to continue to pursue it. It’s something I was pursuing before the show, and it’s definitely something I’d like to continue to do here. I think what’s been so great about it is that as a first network TV experience, to be here with the home team, my family, people that have had my back and supported me has been a real gift. I’m super grateful for that. Matt [Czuchry], Jessica, Bruce [Greenwood], Malcolm[-Jamal Warner], Jane [Leeves], and Anuja [Joshi], everyone just really came to play. I think that their stories all resonate. Also,Amy Holden Jones, who is our EP/creator, she’s been immensely supportive and really delivered quite an episode. Emily Pressley wrote it and she always brings in some flair and some drama inside a very serious scenario here. And then, Andrew [Chapman] and Peter [Elkoff], who are also terrific. It was a great experience from head to toe.