Vincent Lam compares watching the TV version of his Giller Prize-winning novel Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures to looking at a can of soup. Say what?
“It’s like when Andy Warhol did a painting of a can of soup,” explains the author/doctor. “And you know it’s a can of soup. You recognize it as a can of soup. Bit it’s different — it changes when it’s fleshed out in a different visual form.”
OK. But did Lam like it? Was this eight-hour version of his tale of three young doctors everything he hoped for?
“It was. I knew with the changes in formats, there would be differences in storytelling,” says the Toronto-based Lam.
“My hope from the get-go was that it’d be true to the spirit of the book — to bring forth these human beings who are trying to do good. And I think if you really want to know how doctors live and work, you’ll find this satisfying.”
The miniseries centres on three conflicted doctors — Fitz (Shawn Ashmore), Ming (Mayko Nguyen) and Chen (Byron Mann) — whose complicate friendship (romantic and otherwise) proves a distraction to their jobs as doctors.
In telling its story, Bloodletting jumps from the three characters’ days in medical school to a present-day emergency room, revealing a triangular relationship that’s anything but simple.
“In the first episode, you see the beginning of their story and the end. And the rest of the series sort of fills in the middle,” says Ashmore (X-Men, Terry). “It’s a great tool to jump around because it allows you to see in the past, then immediately see what that leads to 10 years later.”
Ashmore says having Lam’s book as a guide was a real plus to his performance. “I read the book before the scripts so I’d have an idea what I was walking into. And yet there were also certain elements in the book I explored in my performance — these experiences that you could use in the character.”