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Cardellini and Nagra give up nuggets of ER info

by Joel Keller, posted Jan 30th 2007 12:29PM
Linda Cardellini and Parminder NagraAt the NBC party for the TCA press tour earlier this month, there was a small contingent of ER cast members floating around, but two of them happened to be my favorites: Linda Cardellini and Parminder Nagra (what, you think I was going to say Shane West?). Both actresses seem to be more prominently involved in the veteran show's storylines this year: Cardellini's Samantha Taggart has already had to deal with killing her fugitive ex-husband and now is trying to figure out how to control a son whose behavior is going south, and Nagra's Neela Rasgotra has been in a torrid affair with John Stamos' character, Tony Gates.

I caught up with both of them and asked them about how they think the year's been going so far and what's in store for each of their characters during the remainder of the season.

Nagra -- whose nickname, ever since her childhood days back in England, is "Mindy" -- had a funny assesment of how her character has developed this year. "(Neela) went from this nerdy braniac character to this like... she's kind of become the slut of the ER this year, I feel like," she laughs.

Cardellini, on the other hand, is happy that there's an infusion of new cast members, especially one that used to work with her on the late, lamented Feaks and Geeks. "Busy (Philipps) is doing ER (she plays the religious intern Hope)... I get to be mean to her! It's a total role reversal."

(By the way, Cardellini wishes her old show had been given more of a shot. "I think people now who are finding it on DVD have a really positive response, and I wish it would have gotten that chance on (broadcast) television," she said. But she's obviously happy where she is. "You know, its so funny; we used to be on NBC with Freaks and Geeks and now I'm on NBC with ER. It's like a horse of a totally different color.")

For both actresses, the upcoming episodes are going to be eventful. "Her child's really getting out of control," Cardellini says of Sam's son Alex. "(Sam) is struggling, being a single mother and working. (Alex) is going to get to the point where she's going to make a choice of what to do with him: Is he just being rebellious or is he heading down a really really seriously bad path?" Despite the presence of Kip Pardue as a possible love interest, she doesn't think any heavy relationships are in store for Taggart this year. "She's got her kid to worry about first."

According to Nagra, Neela is going to need to make some choices in the season's second half. "She's a very lonely character, and she's still trying to figure out her stuff with Gates, and what does that all mean, and does he have too much baggage? It's going to kind of get rocky with that situation," she says. "And then Shane's character, Ray, she's going to keep thinking 'What if?' He doesn't have any baggage, and he's there and he's interested in her. So I think she's going to be very conflicted about how she feels about things."

Both were saddened by the departure of Laura Innes, who had been playing Kerry Weaver since season two. Nagra felt her exit took the entire cast by surprise, but realizes she'll be back as a director. But she also doesn't think Weaver is quite done. "I'm sure it's not going to be the absolute end, because the story was left very open-endeed. Weaver was a brilliant character."

Apparently, Cardellini wasn't among the surprised. "We all knew there was a chance she was going to leave," she said. "I'll miss her. She's an awesome human being, and she's a great access. We're lucky because she also directs, so we won't lose her completely, thank God."

How do the actresses play such emotionally heavy roles? Nagra, whose character has had to deal with a husband dying in Iraq and an intense love triangle, takes it all in stride. "It's so great for me and it's so great the writers saw that potential. And whatever they throw at me, I deal with within the confines of Neela's character," she says confidently. "It's so much fun to see her kind of... Just to see her deal with it is very interesting to watch."

But a little Method acting doesn't hurt, either, especially in the case of Cardellini's harried character. "You know, I'll tell you, it's easy when I'm tired," she says with a smile. "Because she's an overworked, underpaid nurse who's a single mom, she's often tired. So some days, when I know I'm tired and I'm at work, it serves me well."

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Joel Keller

Urbey, I understand your frustration with seeing apostrophes where they shouldn't be, especially in plurals. But I know that, as aware and as annoyed I am by that kind of mistake, I sometimes make that very mistake myself, mainly because of the fast type-edit-post nature of blogging. Basically, it's a brain fart. That's the best way I can put it, at least in my case. And we usually have a second pair of eyes on all our posts, but even they sometimes miss stuff. It happens when you have to read 25 posts per day.

I fixed the other "who's". That was a transcription error... I type my tape transcripts and only go back and correct them when I paste the quotes into the post. Sometimes I miss stuff.

I agree that proper English is important. But pointing it out in a public forum, especially with a snide or humorless tone, makes the commenter look like he or she wants to point things out to either publicly embarrass the writer or make themselves look smarter. I don't think that was your intention, but that how it comes across. That's why we supply a corrections link (that, yes, should be more prominent) and encourage people to use it. We want people to spot our mistakes and alert us to them. We just don't think it's necessary to point them out in public comments; the comments are there for users to discuss what the post was about, not to point out typos or grammar mistakes.

January 31 2007 at 8:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I wasn't aware of the Corrections link. The page is so packed with text I did not see that. I will use it.

Anyway, I wonder about all these "typo's". This post uses "who's" TWICE instead of "whose". Is that a typo, twice? TV Squad writers seem to have a problem with English, and have a love affair with apostrophes in places where they shouldn't be. The most common error I see on these pages is the use of an apostrophe to indicate the plural of a word. Where they got that idea, I don't know. It's one thing not to know how to spell "denouement" or "accommodate", but what's simpler than just adding an "s" to a word for the plural?

Now, when I say something like this, there's always a group of people who will (metaphorically) roll their eyes and sigh, fed up with this concentration on correct English, as if it's just so 1950's to worry about spelling words correctly or using correct grammar. They seem to be saying, "C'mon this is the Internet age. We don't have to worry about something as mundane as English. We have more important things to do."

It's not nitpicking. Poor English is distracting and it's rude to your readers to write poorly. Imagine if your coworker reeked of body odor. It would make it pretty difficult to concentrate on what she is saying if you kept coughing.

If knowledge of the English language is not a job requirement to be a professional writer, then what is?

January 31 2007 at 2:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If you want readers to use the "Corrections" e-mail link make it a little more prominent. Poor web design is not the reader's fault. How about placing the "Corrections" link right (and a Contact the Author link) next to the "Add Your Comments" button.

January 30 2007 at 6:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joel Keller

Urbey, it was a typo, not a grammar mistake. Honest.

Thanks for being so nice with your correction, and using the "corrections" e-mail link, like we ask of readers who want to correct typos like that.

January 30 2007 at 5:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So you can spell the Indian name of the actress correctly, but you don't know to use the word "whose"?

January 30 2007 at 5:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thanks for making a comment about Method acting that actually pertains to Method acting.

On the whole, I can't think of any other thing related to performing in which the reality is so completely different from the public idea of it.

January 30 2007 at 2:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thanks Joel, great article.

January 30 2007 at 12:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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