THE DOCTOR IS IN THE HOUSE. New Zealand actor Martin Henderson talks joining the cast of “Grey’s Anatomy” and staying true to his roots amid the glitz and glam of showbiz
As more and more Indonesian actors make their way to Hollywood, interest in how their peers from other nations fare at the global hub of showbiz is at an all-time high. But while a lot of attention has gone to talents from major Asian countries and Europe (especially the UK), there are plenty of impressive success stories from our neighbors down South. Martin Henderson’s is one such tale.
Born in Auckland, he started out playing in New Zealand and Australian productions before venturing to Los Angeles in the late ‘90s. It wasn’t long before he started to land bigger and bigger roles, including 2002’s hit horror movie “The Ring” to 2015’s “Everest.” Last year also saw Henderson take up what just might be his most iconic role yet, as the newest doctor in the popular medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy.”
DA MAN: Hi, Martin. So, you’re now the newest member of “Grey’s Anatomy.” What’s it like being part of a series that’s often described as a phenomenon instead of just a show?
Martin Henderson: It’s great! I’m so happy to be joining such a well-loved show with such a loyal and passionate fan base. It’s inspiring and motivating knowing people care so much about the characters.
DA MAN: Can you tell us a bit about your character, Dr. Nathan Riggs, and maybe any big plot twists he’ll be involved in?
Martin Henderson: To be completely honest with you, I have very little insight into who Nathan is other than what we have already shot. And much to Shonda Rhimes’ credit, he is rather mysterious, and each episode offers a new clue that keeps me guessing. He is clearly a very good surgeon and a good guy, but there are definitely things in his past that he regrets and is still paying for.
DA MAN: Are there any big changes that we can still expect from season 12? Especially with the departure of several regulars and, now, the addition of some new faces.
Martin Henderson: As with all of Shonda’s shows, there are sure to be big shocks, surprises and upsets as the season rolls toward the finale. Certainly romances are kindled, broken and tested and careers are also in question. I wouldn’t rob the audience of the thrill of watching it all unfold onscreen by giving away details but it certainly gets complicated in the corridors of Grey-Sloan [memorial hospital].
“I do feel a lot more turned on creatively when I get to do roles that are a little nutty”
DA MAN: By the way, can you also tell us how you were selected for the main cast of season 12?
Martin Henderson: I had worked with Shonda Rhimes twice before on a pilot and a show called “Off the Map.” So, when she asked me to sit down with her and talk, I was very excited to know what it was she wanted to discuss, and she then offered me the role in the meeting. It was a huge compliment to be given such a big opportunity and I was touched by her loyalty and confidence in me as an actor.
DA MAN: On a related note, when you joined the cast of “Grey’s Anatomy,” you walked into an already well-established group. How did you find working with this group for the first time?
Martin Henderson: I was actually pretty nervous on my first day. It felt like being the new kid at school, and I didn’t really know what to expect. Thankfully, the entire cast and crew of the show were extremely welcoming and made an effort to make me feel a part of their family.
DA MAN: Back to the show itself, a critic once remarked about “Grey’s Anatomy” that “At its worst, it’s been at least fascinating to watch.” What do you think is it that makes this show so popular and so likeable?
Martin Henderson: Personally, I think it has to do with how the show seems to incorporate so many elements into, what is at its core, a medical drama while also being funny, sad, cute, socially relevant, topical and, of course, with a constant dose of romantic and sexual intrigue. I like how it’s deep and meaningful with genuine insights into what it is to be a human with all its contradictions and confusion while still being light and fun. I guess it’s truly a well-balanced show.
DA MAN: Will you be on the show for the long run, or are you going for a “wait and see” approach for the time being?
Martin Henderson: I’m having such a good time on the show; so, for as long as it continues to be fun, I’d be very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it and to keep entertaining everyone who loves it.
Outfit by Club Monaco
DA MAN: Would you consider being on “Grey’s Anatomy” as an important career milestone?
Martin Henderson: I think milestones are usually identifiable in retrospect because in a career, just as in life, we never really know where one thing might lead us to. Just like how my earlier collaboration with Shonda led to this role. Being on “Grey’s Anatomy” is certainly a huge opportunity and whether it opens other doors remains to be seen. I would love to continue making films in my downtime from the show and the exposure from “Grey’s Anatomy” may aid that, but who knows?
DA MAN: Among the rest of the films you’ve worked on, are there any particular ones that, while not exactly grand or career-defining, have been extraordinarily fun to make?
Martin Henderson: Everything I’ve worked on has been fun for different reasons. I’ve been very fortunate to work on a wide array of genres, including horror, action, drama, and, yeah, even a Bollywood hybrid like “Bride and Prejudice.” The experience of living and working in India while making that film was a unique treasure, especially at that stage of my life when I was so motivated by travel and adventure. “Torque” offered an immersion into the world of motorcycles; shooting “Off the Map” in Hawaii was an incredible time living in paradise and learning to surf. I’ve been extremely blessed with work that has enriched my life in many ways, which is something i’ve always wanted.
DA MAN: Are there any roles and genres that you still want to explore in the future?
Martin Henderson: Comedy! I would love to do more comedy. It’s the genre that first made me want to be an actor, and I’ve done a little bit at home in New Zealand and Australia, but practically none here in the U.S. I think that’s partly because my taste in humor is a little more British than American. I do feel a lot more turned on creatively when I get to do roles that are a little nutty.
“Having a thick enough skin to deal with the inevitable rejection helps too”
DA MAN: Speaking of which, we’ve learned that you are currently set to appear in three movies: “Juveniles,” “Miracles from Heaven” and “Hellbent.” Can you give us a brief rundown of these three titles?
Martin Henderson: “Juveniles” is a gritty, indie drama centering on a feuding community who settles their intergenerational differences with violence. Kind of like a modern-day “The Outsiders.” “Miracles from Heaven” is the true, real life story of a Texas family’s struggle of dealing with their young daughter’s terminal illness and how their faith led to an inexplicable healing. “Hellbent” is a modern-day Western road movie with a young runaway woman searching for family and freedom with an outlaw on the lam. This mismatched couple struggle to survive and elude the authorities while forming an unlikely friendship along the way.
DA MAN: Which of those are you most excited about?
Martin Henderson: The three films are so vastly different in their themes and style, so I appreciate them all for different reasons. But if i had to guess, I’d say “Miracles from Heaven” will have the most profound effect on the audience. It’s definitely the most emotional and uplifting of the three.
DA MAN: Are there any other filming projects or big plans down the road that you can share with us?
Martin Henderson: Right now I’m tied up with my work on “Grey’s Anatomy.” But come our hiatus in May I would love to find another fun movie to do. I’m looking at something in Australia, but it’s early and I haven’t made any firm decisions.
DA MAN: You were a friend and also a mentor to the late Heath Ledger. How would you describe the relationship between the two of you?
Martin Henderson: Heath was a very dear friend of mine and someone whom I miss terribly. Although when we met he was quite young and so I did try to support him and encourage him, but I would say that as the years went by he certainly became a mentor to me at times and certainly an inspiration. We were competitive yet deeply connected through respect, and we just cared about each other a lot like brothers.
DA MAN: What is your best advice for new up-and-coming stars trying to make their way?
Martin Henderson: Especially for those coming from outside the States: Don’t give up! Work hard and don’t take yourself or the business too seriously. I think one needs a lot of faith in themselves, and having a thick enough skin to deal with the inevitable rejection helps too. I think it’s crucial to develop a real love of the craft of acting, so the process continues to excite you rather than being fixated on the results. You can’t ever control the results but you can choose to love doing it!
DA MAN: What’s your secret for handling the pressures of being a movie star?
Martin Henderson: Just don’t buy into the bullshit. Don’t play the role of a movie star. Play your characters well but leave the actor bullshit on set. I personally never think of myself as a movie star or want to assume such an identity. That’s silly and fabricated. Maybe it’s because I come from New Zealand, but I just think of myself as a dude who acts in film and TV for a living.
To see more pictures from this shoot, grab a copy of DA MAN April/May 2016 here, and check out these outtakes below.
Photography Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
Styling Lauren Larocca
Fashion Editor Alexa Rangroummith Green
Styling Assistant Courtney Leday
Grooming Barbara Guillaume at Art Dept using Murad Oil Control Moisturizer and Kevin.Murphy UN.DRESSED Fibre Paste