Patrick Macmanus interview: ‘Dr. Death’ and ‘The Girl From Plainville’ creator

“At the end of the day, the ‘created by’ is still your name. The final product is all that matters. It doesn’t matter how you got there, it doesn’t matter whose idea it was, it just matters in the final product,” declares writer/producer Patrick Macmanus on what he believes is the key to a great creator and showrunner, i.e. the ability to collaborate for the greater good of the project you’re bringing to life on screen.

For our recent webchat he adds, “If you’re doing your job correctly, then you are definitely not the smartest one and you are definitely not the most talented one,” he says. “You need to be able to check your ego at the door and let people do their jobs and that doesn’t mean that you’re not still guiding things, it doesn’t mean that you take everything everybody says, but it means that before you say no, you step away and you give it thought. All too often, I think that some people in my position are foolish and they think that they have to be the answer to everything and I just think that’s short sighted, as it takes away from what is most brilliant about TV, which is the ability to be able to be collaborative and to be able to work with people who are better than you.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.

In “Dr. Death,” Joshua Jackson stars as Dr. Christopher Duntsch, the real-life Texas neurosurgeon who was convicted of gross malpractice for permanently mutilating 31 of his patients and killing two of them during surgery. Macmanus based the true-crime drama on the first season of the podcast of the same name that focuses on egregious cases of medical malpractice. The limited series also stars Christian Slater, Grace Gummer, AnnaSophia Robb, and Emmy winners Alec Baldwin, Kelsey Grammer and Carrie Preston. It premiered on Peacock mid-last year to critical acclaim and strong word-of-mouth, with Jackson and Slater recently scoring respective Critics Choice nominations for Best Limited Series/TV Movie Actor and Supporting Actor.

Macmanus also co-created the Hulu true-crime drama “The Girl From Plainville” with Liz Hannah (“The Post”), which explores the events leading up to the “texting suicide” death of Conrad “Coco” Roy (Colton Ryan) and his girlfriend eventual conviction for involuntary manslaughter of his girlfriend Michelle Carter (Elle Fanning). The sordid true story was adapted from Jesse Barron’s 2017 Esquire article of the same name, with Fanning taking on the daunting task of portraying a young woman so unhinged that she coaxes her young boyfriend to end his life.

Macmanus clearly has a penchant for true crime, which he says comes from a love affair with the work of iconic novelist Stephen King. “When you’re dealing with true crime, so often you’re dealing with the, for lack of a more productive term, the cops and robbers aspect of it. In the case of ‘Dr. Death,’ we didn’t have any police, we didn’t have military. We had these two doctors who were chasing one of their own, who genuinely couldn’t figure out for the life of them how one of their own could do this to their patients,” he explains. “So, they became the cops, and that to me was a very novel way into a true crime story. Then, on the flip side of it, bad guys in horror films too often are two dimensional, at best two and a half dimensional. What we set out to write for Christopher Duntsch was a character that the audience, when they are watching the show, might actually catch themselves feeling empathy for,” Macmanus says. “Duntsch deserves to be in jail for the rest of his life, but there is no question that had he chosen a different path, had he turned left instead of right, had he stayed on the research path instead of going down the surgical path, we might have been talking about him in a very different way today. That is a tragic character and that always to me is a compelling thing when you’re a villain; someone that you can find a connection to, as it makes them almost that much more terrifying.”

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UPLOADED Jun 13, 2022 3:00 pm