Hugh Laurie has found his darkest role yet as Eldon Chance, a San Francisco-based forensic neuropsychiatrist who reluctantly gets sucked into a violent and dangerous world of mistaken identity, police corruption and mental illness. After an ill-advised decision regarding an alluring patient who may or may not be struggling with a multiple personality disorder, Chance finds himself in the crosshairs of her abusive spouse, who also happens to be a ruthless police detective. Hulu’s scripted drama, Chance, is based on a Kem Nunn novel.
Laurie talked about the character in wrist-slitting detail at TCA:
“My father was a doctor, a general practitioner,” he said, recalling Christmas’ past when Dad would get gifts from grateful patients – a handmade pair of socks, a bottle of wine, with a note attached, saying, “Dear Doctor, thank you for lancing my boils.”
“He did things that made people’s lives better,” Laurie said.
Neuropsychiatrists, on the other hand, don’t heal anybody, Laurie said, talking about ones with whom he has spoken. The best they can do, he said, is manage “incredibly damaged” people. “Nobody leaves their offices doing cartwheels,” he said, adding “I don’t think I’d last a week.” He also described the job as holding someone’s hand and guiding them through something that is almost un-survivable. Eldon Chance, he said has, when we meet him, paid about as much a toll as he can pay, knowing he’s not making a difference.
But that is what “all of us want to have on our gravestones: ‘They made a difference,’ ” Laurie added, cheering up the ballroom a negative 20%. “It’s a modest ambition but a pretty important one.”
The former House star dismissed a question as to similarities between this doctor role and that of Dr. Gregory House, who he played on Fox. The world of one, he said, is “infinitely removed from that other world.”
Chance includes author/EP Nunn, showrunner Alexandra Cunningham and EP Michael London; it landed at Hulu with a two-season, 20-episode order for a late 2016 premiere. The series hails from Fox 21 TV Studios, marking the cable studio’s big entry into the SVOD space. It also represents a major move for Hulu as it is looking to establish itself as an original series player.
The streaming service landed Chance by stepping up in a very competitive situation, bidding against established traditional networks, much the way Netflix nabbed House Of Cards with a two-season order several years ago.