New Amsterdam Director Breaks Down The 'Insane' Process Behind Dr. Castries' Cold Cliffhanger
New Amsterdam returned from nearly two months of break with an episode that started with fun karaoke shenanigans and ended with the lives of no fewer than five key characters in question. Helen, Wilder, Casey, Trevor, and Dr. Castries are all seemingly down for the count, and the doctor of holistic medicine was not in good shape the last time that viewers saw her. The next episode will reveal all of their fates, but director (and former Lost star) Nestor Carbonell broke down the cliffhanger for Dr. Castries, and shared with CinemaBlend why it was “insane.”
Unlike Helen and Dr. Wilder, Dr. Mia Castries wasn’t at home when whatever happened started to affect her. She rode her bike to a pier after getting what seemed to be some distressing news about a relationship, and was looking over the edge… dangerously close to the railing on a very cold night. When I spoke with Nestor Carbonell about his work on the spring premiere, he explained what went into filming Dr. Castries’ ambiguous ending in the episode:
That was the coldest day I think I’ve ever spent on a set. And God bless Genevieve [Angelson] and God bless the crew because they were extraordinary. It was certainly below freezing. I want to say it was 12 degrees. It was insane. And as you see, she’s not wearing too much. You know, she’s wearing pants, but it was a thin jacket. I’m thinking ‘Oh my God, how is she [going to do this]? And she’s gonna get emotional.’ So we found this phenomenal location, which is overlooking the water. And the challenge was that this is not a suicide. She’s not committing suicide, so we had to come up with ‘Okay, this has to be an accident.’
Actress Genevieve Angelson – whose character initially didn’t get the warmest of welcome from the doctors who thought she was a plant by Veronica Fuentes – wasn’t exactly bundled into layer after layer of thermal gear for her scene on the water in New York. So, as the director noted, she was very cold while also playing Castries slowly succumbing to the same ailment that had Helen passed out cold at the end of “All Night Long.”
The scene had to show the danger that she was in by leaning over the edge, while making it clear that she was not trying to harm herself. Even though she’d had a rough night at the karaoke bar, she wasn’t attempting anything. Nestor Carbonell continued, explaining how he made the challenging (and cold) scene work for Castries’ story:
There was no bench. I said, ‘Well, why don’t we build a bench and she gets up and maybe she’s just trying to, you know, open up her heart and in the middle of all this, the drugs kick in and she falls over the banister.’ So then the challenge became, how do we do this safely? So I had the art department build a separate railing, that then we later used and cheated inside of the actual railing, so that we could have a fall out of frame safely. We also had a stunt double. Everyone was harnessed to do the back shots. So there was a lot to sort of map out in terms of okay, which angle, which shots.
Safety was a priority during the real-life shoot of the scene, whereas Dr. Castries was in very real danger the last time that the episode checked in on her. Thanks to some tricks of the camera, directing maneuvers, and contributions from the art department, the sense of peril was there without anybody being in danger on set. Of course, all the benches and harnesses in the world weren’t going to raise the temperature above freezing, and the director shared the kinds of decisions he had to make when it came to getting his shots despite the cold:
And given that, like you said, it was so cold, I had to be just sort of judicious about okay, I can’t have every shot that I want. So I have to sort of prioritize here, because everyone’s gonna freeze to death. So I prioritized as much as I could, but we were able I think pretty much to get every shot that I planned out. I’ve quickly discovered that 90% of directing is prep. [laughs] Particularly in episodes like this one, where there’s just so many stunts and there’s so much going. You really have to have a very sort of specific shot list.
Just as Nestor Carbonell had to roll with some complications because of the cold, executive producers David Schulner and Peter Horton opened up about changing the premiere episode due to unexpected timing changes in the 2022 TV schedule. The changes mean that fans don’t have as long of a wait to find out the fates of Dr. Castries, Dr. Wilder, Trevor, Casey, and Helen, but that doesn’t mean that all the news will be good. The producers also previewed how Max will react to the trauma of Helen’s health crisis after losing Georgia, and things aren’t looking great for any of those afflicted.
Luckily, the wait for all of the cliffhanger resolutions is almost over. The next new episode of New Amsterdam airs on Tuesday, April 26 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC. The Season 4 finale is just about a month away, and the show will officially come to an end after the fifth season, so be sure not to miss an episode.