Dr. William Rush is a private doctor with a penchant for self-medicating. His drug of choice? Eighties pop music. Oh yeah, lots of cocaine. Tom Ellis, the actor who plays the title character of USA’s new show Rush, shares a deep and abiding love for one of the doctor’s vices—fortunately, though, it’s not one that will land him in prison.
Ellis shared his fondness for shlock pop while taking EW’s Pop Culture Personality Test: “When I got the briefing from [executive producer] Jonathan Levine about Rush’s taste in music—and it was, of course, that he has terrible taste in music—I was, like, ‘Great!’ So I opened up my backpack of ’80s guilty pleasures. The Debbie Gibson stuff and the Katrina & the Waves, all of that is on a playlist that I created for the character. All of that I actually secretly love.”
What other unexpected ’80s nods popped up during the Welshman’s Test? And how do amorous foxes figure into one of his confessions? Find out before Rush debuts tonight.
Though Rush is set in present-day L.A., its antihero shares DNA with many of the most memorable characters of the ’80s. Specifically, he’s a party boy who throws caution to the wind both physically and ethically. “You meet Rush at a certain point in his life where he’s made a decision that he’s going to not live by the moral code of being a doctor,” Ellis explains. “He’s decided to disengage with that side of his life for various reasons, which we find out through the first season.” He adds, “Even though he does some pretty despicable things, you still kind of root for him and somehow find yourself loving the guy.”
That happens to be the case, too, for Rush’s former fiancée Sarah (Odette Annable). “Sarah is a really important cog in the show,” says Ellis. “She is one of the few people that can look into Rush’s eyes and beyond the veneer that he’s created. She can look right down into him and know what he is and who he is as a man. That’s a very exposing place for him to be, which is good in some ways because you realize this guy has a soft center, but for other people to know that he has a chink in his armor is maybe not the most comfortable place for him to be. [The show] sort of takes on a little roller coaster ride with those two.”
Rush’s unorthodox case load will also provide plenty of ups and downs as the rogue physician makes cash-only house calls to a discreet clientele of celebrities and Hollywood power players. “There are some interesting medical cases that go on through the show,” Ellis teases. “One of them [in the pilot] involves a broken part of the body that you wouldn’t normally expect, depending on how your life is. It’s never happened to me, let’s put it that way.” He adds that some of Rush’s cases “don’t just involve humans.” Foxes, maybe?
Rush airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on USA.