Dr. Hannah Asher is ready to start a new chapter in her life. After battling a drug addiction and getting help, Hannah is in recovery and back at the hospital. Hannah has returned for good and season 8 will be about finding out who Hannah is at her core.
HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Chicago Med star Jessy Schram about continuing Hannah’s important and relevant journey with addiction. While Hannah is “mentally in a really great space,” she’ll still be “physically dealing with the effects of her past” and “fighting against that.” She also weighed in on the next phase of Will and Hannah’s relationship, whether it be romantic or platonic. Read our Q&A below:
Hannah is now back full-time. Did you ever think that when you first left the series that Hannah’s story would come back around and continue?
Jessy Schram: I mean, there were whispers of Hannah’s storyline continuing, and then when COVID hit every storyline in the world changed. Everything changed. And when I came back to kind of believing, everybody just kept reminding me, ‘Hey, you haven’t died. You haven’t died. Therefore you can come back at any time.’ So I always kind of held that flame of hoping that there would be the opportunity for Hannah to come back and see where everything goes. As time went on, I just kind of silently started nodding to, wow, what a great experience. Yes, that’s a chapter closed. When you finally mentally close that chapter, then you get a knock on the door. It was a surprise and something that I was super excited about. I knew that there was always the possibility. So much time had passed that I really didn’t think Hannah was coming back, so it really was a surprise.
I feel like Hannah’s story is so important to tell in this day and age because the world, whether it is on television or in politics, doesn’t like to address it. I think that Chicago Med showcasing this tough but hopeful journey for her is incredibly relevant.
Jessy Schram: I definitely appreciate that they’re touching base on the opiate crisis, addiction, and a different face. I was extremely naive to all the different ways and people that addiction actually affected. I was not aware of how common it was. I took on this role and people were sharing their stories and realized that everybody had been affected personally or through somebody else with addiction in their life. I will say one of the things that I really appreciate with Chicago Med in their portrayal of Hannah in this life is that we’re bringing her through the addiction. We saw her within it. We saw the downfalls. We saw her in withdrawal. We see her going to recovery, and now we’re in this process of somebody that’s in recovery. For me, it’s really interesting as an actor trying to figure out, okay, we know who Hannah is as the addict, but who’s Hannah at her base? The addiction is part of her. It’s not all of her. I applaud Chicago Med for going on this journey and showing her beyond her addiction.
Hannah needs to NOT run into burning buildings from now on. The situation with her lungs ends up being a little bit more intense than I think she expected. There’s a line in the premiere where Hannah says that she can’t seem to shake her past. That is also part of the addiction journey, dealing with your past and moving forward. Given what’s happened, what is Hannah’s mindset going forward?
Jessy Schram: I think you hit it right on the head of going forward, but then her body’s retaliating from the past. Even though mentally she is in a good space… Obviously, when you’re in recovery, you’re always an addict. You’re always in recovery. So it’s not something that ever totally goes away, but you’re in different periods that are good. Hannah is in a really strong and grounded place. She’s still dealing with the stigma when it comes from other doctors and other people that surround her and how it affects her career. The stigma of her being an addict is following her, and it’s still affecting her career even though she is years into recovery and on a different path. She is mentally in a really great space, physically dealing with the effects of her past, and still fighting against that.
The stigma is a crucial aspect to address because it is something we see constantly, and it can be debilitating for people in recovery. I just hope that this stigma doesn’t get to be too much for her.
Jessy Schram: She’s coming through it, and there’s just that constant journey of it. I hope that when there are people that are watching that can see that other side because even when Chicago Med was bringing me back I was like, what does it look like to be in recovery? I don’t know. I just had such a different view of what everything looks like. It’s really nice to be able to portray something and give an education of a different face of what this looks like.
We have to discuss the on-again, off-again romance with Will. There’s so much history there. What does their future look like? She did run back into a burning building for him.
Jessy Schram: I know! He is still constantly trying to be a force and protection for her. In the season premiere, I remember reading the script and being like, ‘Where are we going? Will is really looking after Hannah. She went into the building for him… what is up with them?’ I think what we’ll see in this season is we were seeing in the past that they were projecting onto each other, their codependency, and then two exes having to work in the same workforce, again projecting onto each other who each other used to be, and stepping into patterns where neither want to be that person or are that person anymore. So now I feel like we’re really seeing respect between the two. Obviously, there is a love from the history that they have, but I really feel in this season we’re going to see who they are now to each other and that just continuously is unfolding.
When Chicago Med first began, Will and Natalie were very much the main couple of the show. It’s tough to follow a couple like that, but you and Nick [Gehlfuss] have navigated it so well and given fans a different relationship to really root for.
Jessy Schram: Will and Natalie were fan favorites. That is the relationship that we grew with in Chicago Med, so coming in after that, that already had fans on guard about the Hannah character. But then also, too, the world that we’re both living in and what I’m bringing him into. There was a lot of concern about the dysfunction and if Will was going to be tainted. It makes me feel good because I do hear a lot of people getting to adjust to who we are as that couple on the show and go on the journey with us and understand it’s more than just a really quick fling that was happening. I personally absolutely adore working with Nick Gehlfuss. I feel like he cares so much about the work and so do I. He’s such an easy person in real life to get along with, but it’s really also very easy to act with him.
While Hannah is back full-time, Scott is leaving. What was your reaction to how the premiere ended?
Jessy Schram: I was shocked. I didn’t know that his character was departing until a week before we started filming and we got the script. I was told by our producer beforehand, but I was in shock. I did not see that coming. We’re losing a fantastic cast member and a great actor. We never really fully got to do too much together because of our storyline, but I’m still kind of like, wow, I can’t believe he departed. I can’t believe the character’s gone.
When it comes to Chicago Med, there are always memorable cases that the doctors have to face. What can you tease about what Hannah will be encountering in the hospital?
Jessy Schram: We’re getting into the world of an OBGYN. I’m learning things that I never knew were possibilities or things that places could go. A lot of my storylines are going to deal with the female body and reproduction and babies. Every episode I’m getting, I am so surprised and learn so many new things. Everything that we’re doing is not something that you’ve seen before. This season is almost a refresh season of just adding all-new elements. I will still be in the OBGYN world but my character is in ER a lot more than usual. She gets to deal with cases that also aren’t in her specialty.
What has been like working in Chicago?
Jessy Schram: So I’m originally from Buffalo Grove, which is a northwest suburb of Chicago. I’ve lived in LA for 20 years, but I grew up basically in Chicago. I’ve missed the humidity. I’ve missed the seasons. I have missed the wind hurting my face. I will say I’m not looking forward to 7 months of that weather, but I love Chicago weather I think because it is so changing. To me, the weather forces people to have hobbies and community. I actually like the weather in Chicago. I mean, let’s be real. It’s white skies instead of blue all the time.
So basically, Chicago Med is like a homecoming for you.
Jessy Schram: Very much. It was the first time after about 18-20 years coming back and getting to work with the Chicago crew in my hometown. It truly is full circle.