The Story Behind Chicago Med Preparing New Stars To Play Doctors On Short Notice, According To Luke Mitchell

 Luke Mitchell in Chicago Med Season 9x09.
Luke Mitchell in Chicago Med Season 9x09.

Chicago Med has had a fair amount of cast turnover over the past couple of seasons, most notably including the departures of Brian Tee as Ethan Choi in mid-Season 8 and Nick Gehlfuss as Will Halstead in the Season 8 finale. Will's absence in Season 9 vacated a slot in the ED, which opened the door for Luke Mitchell as Dr. Mitch Ripley. As it turns out, the newcomer arrived on the hit NBC drama without much time to prepare, and he opened up to CinemaBlend with the story behind how he was readied to play a doctor on short notice for the 2024 TV schedule.

While the Chicago Med showrunners were clear that Ripley wasn't intended as a replacement for Will, he has definitely brought his share of complications (and history with Dr. Charles) to the hospital. He's also a skilled doctor, which meant Luke Mitchell had to perform to the fast pace of the ED alongside series regulars who have already had years playing physicians. For some background, when I spoke with the Australian actor, he shared how landed the role of Mitch Ripley to join a show nine seasons and more than 150 episodes in:

Well, probably thankfully, I didn't have any preparation time whatsoever. It was a very, very fast turnaround, and so I didn't really have time to second guess myself. I just had to dive straight in. From the time that I auditioned, I think I had 24 hours before I booked the job. And then I had maybe 72 hours up my sleeve to get from Adelaide, to Sydney, and then over to Chicago, which was just after Thanksgiving. And then I arrived on the Sunday night, and by the Monday afternoon, I was in medical training. And that night, I was meeting the cast, and two days later, I was the first scene up shooting for the start of the season. So it was pretty wild.

The entertainment industry started back up very quickly in 2023 after the ends of the WGA writers strike and SAG-AFTRA actors strike, and that evidently meant casting the role of Dr. Mitch Ripley quite quickly. Considering that it takes nearly a full day just to fly from Sydney to Chicago, Luke Mitchell definitely didn't have much time to spare! As fans who watched the Season 9 premiere live on NBC or delayed via Peacock Premium subscription saw, Ripley's debut was in the first two minutes of the first episode of 2024.

So, how does Chicago Med prepare an actor to believably play a doctor in a very limited amount of time? Luke Mitchell explained how it went for him:

It's been exhilarating. I just had to dive straight in. Day 1 being in Chicago, I had two hours of medical training in an actual hospital, where you can only learn so much but you're just getting some basic terminology and learning how to use things like a stethoscope properly. Which is pretty important!

What better way to get training to play a fictional doctor than at a real-life hospital? Sure, two hours in Luke Mitchell's particular case isn't a whole lot of time to learn the ropes, but I'm guessing that I'm not the only viewer who has had no trouble believing that Ripley is as skilled a doctor as any of the others on Med. Not just limited to stethoscope use, either! Mitchell went on:

But each and every scene requires something new and we have wonderful consultants on the show who help you look like a doctor. [laughs] You just kind of have to be a bit fearless about it. I feel it's been also a little bit like a sponge. You need to go into these scenes and be open to learning and figuring stuff out on the fly. There's an exhilaration to that.

Of course, Chicago Med is a drama series and not a docu-series, but consultants work on the show to make it look as real as possible. Plus, Mitchell is surrounded by actors who have multiple seasons of playing emergency doctors, with Ripley having history with Dr. Charles, working director under Dr. Archer as ED Chief, and building a potential romance with Jessy Schram as Dr. Hannah Asher. It sounds like an immersive experience to give Med newcomers what they need to believably portray medical professionals, and it's working so far!

See more of Luke Mitchell as Dr. Mitch Ripley with new episodes of Chicago Med on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, ahead of Chicago Fire at 9 p.m. and Chicago P.D. at 10 p.m. All three shows of One Chicago have been renewed for the 2024-2025 TV season already, so you can count on more of Med's doctors and nurses for the foreseeable future!