On the intensity scale, Complications is off the charts. The new drama, which premieres tonight on USA, stars Jason O’Mara as an ER doctor who saves a young boy’s life by intervening in a drive-by shooting. When O’Mara’s character, Dr. John Ellison, discovers that the boy’s father is an incarcerated drug lord, things escalate quickly—and he finds himself in the middle of a gang war while also dealing with his own family problems on the home front, namely with his lawyer wife Samantha, played by Leverage star Beth Riesgraf.
We recently caught up with Riesgraf when she stopped by InStyle’s New York City offices, and she told us why you won't want to miss the new show. “It’s a page-turner—and it’s really gritty,” she said. “I think people are going to be surprised that it’s so edgy and action-packed.” One major bonus thanks to the story’s quick pace? There are plenty of plot twists in store for viewers. “You'll be seeing all of the dynamics shift around Jason's character because of this one decision he made [to intervene in the shooting],” said Riesgraf.
While the series moves fast, the Ellison family at its core struggles through plenty of difficult moments in private. “Relationships are so hard, and you see these people struggling with that,” said Riesgraf, whose character's romance with O’Mara’s is on the rocks in the wake of tragedy. “Our marriage is kind of in a rough spot, because we lost our daughter to cancer a year previous. Now, we’re trying to get back to normal, but we’re still grieving and just going through a lot of different things.”
Then, in the blink of an eye, the Ellison family is facing a whole new set of problems. After witnessing the drive-by shooting, John is tasked with a high-stakes assignment. “He’s asked to keep the drug lord’s son alive until he gets out of the federal prison system, so he protects the boy in the hospital,” said Riesgraf. But keeping the targeted child safe isn’t easy, of course. “Gangs keep coming in, and they try to take and kill the boy.” Luckily, Dr. Ellison manages to enlist some help from a nurse, who’s played by Gossip Girl star Jessica Szohr. “She teams up with him, and they kind of shuttle the boy out to keep him in hiding and protect him,” said Riesgraf.
And that means major changes are in store for the Ellisons. “Our family life gets uprooted once again, obviously, and we’re trying to cope and deal with all of this craziness all at once,” said Riesgraf, whose character goes into full-on mom mode while trying to regain a sense of normalcy for her brood. “Samantha’s steely and strong and quiet, but she’s really trying to keep everyone together. As her husband’s spinning out of control, she’s trying to harness all of this and keep them safe.” And that’s one natural instinct that Riesgraf totally understands. “I think that we can all relate to trying to keep it together and survive,” she said. To see the drama unfold, tune into the series premiere of Complications, tonight at 9 p.m. EST on USA.
—With reporting by Sharon Clott Kanter