By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders.
Well, NBC knew that if they cast Isaiah Washington in any new series, they would have to be prepared for controversy. After announcing the former Grey’s Anatomy doctor would join the cast of their new Bionic Woman series over the summer, the show’s producers prepared their responses to the press.
Casting Washington for Bionic Woman
“That character already existed prior to getting Isaiah Washington onto the show,” explained producer Jason Smilovic. “We just found the best actor for the role. The role existed before Isaiah Washington. The role was not conceived for Isaiah Washington, nor was it re-tooled for Isaiah Washington. We had come up with a character organically in our breaking of the first 12, and Ben Silverman said, ‘I have a great actor.’”
Washington is signed for the long haul, so that is a new development since the character was conceived. “What changed is the arc. We originally had a character that we were introducing, and the character was staying for an indefinite period of time. Now that we had an actor coming in who was going to be there for an indefinite period of time, we had to change that. That was the only change made to the role.”
Regardless of his acting talents, many people are still offended by comments Washington made during his Grey’s run. However, the producers see no risk in alienating audiences by casting him on the show.
“As I stated earlier, we feel that he is the right actor for the role, but also, we believe in second chances. We are not here to make judgments. When somebody does something wrong and you have a systemic problem, the best way to change that problem is not by casting them outside of the system. It's by allowing them to make amends, allowing them to make reparations and to do the right thing. So rather than excommunicate someone, we felt that it was better to give him a second chance.”
Smilovic also asserts that neither he nor the show are taking sides in this matter. “We embrace the gay community. We are hoping that they are going to watch the show, and we are in no way making any judgments or statements or assignations about what was said or what was done. This is about making a television series. It's about making some great entertainment, and we found a great actor to do that.”