As revealed in this week’s episode of the Fox medical drama, Omar Epps’ alter ego is one year into his gig as the successor to Dr. Lisa Cuddy, as Princeton Plainsboro’s Dean of Medicine – and boy, has he borrowed a bit of trouble by paving the way for House to return to the fold. TVLine spoke with Epps about leading this “new regime” and, most critically, Foreman’s plan for keeping House (sorta, kinda) in line.
TVLINE | When did you first learn that Foreman would be promoted into this critical role?
Right at the start of the season. I had a discussion with [series creator] David Shore, where I picked his brain in terms of where we were going, and he dropped it on me then. I thought it was cool.
TVLINE | Was it a possibility you batted around when word broke that Lisa Edelstein wouldn’t be returning?
No, honestly. I was curious about how that was all going to pan out creatively, but I never thought about Foreman being her successor.
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TVLINE | Is Foreman a boss who commands the full respect of the people underneath him?
Surely! He’s sort of running the ship, trying to keep it a well-oiled machine. But this episode was really about House coming back into the fold and being hit with the reality that it’s a completely different world. It’s a year later, so everyone has sort of moved on and changed, and there’s a different energy for House. It will be interesting to see how the audience responds to that.
TVLINE | Is it Foreman’s call as to whether House will stay employed at the hospital full-time?
It’s all sort of one big gamble. Foreman’s sort of putting his neck on the line to say, “Parole this guy and I’ll make sure he stays out of trouble.” Foreman has a lot vested in House doing the right thing – which we know is only going to go so far.
TVLINE | Do you think Foreman has a soft spot for House after all these years, if only based out of professional respect?
I think he adores the guy, he’s always admired House and his ability. When you work with someone for so long, you said it best: If not for anything, there’s a profound respect there. And I think he cares about him as a person. Where we left off last season was pretty extreme. [Laughs] The wheels sort of fell off [for House]. The best thing for him is to practice medicine, and the best place for him to do that is at Princeton Plainsboro. [Foreman] has got to try to be supportive and help him rebuild his life.
TVLINE | What do you imagine Foreman’s M.O. will be to manage this guy? Will he have to up his game at all?
He’s definitely going to have to up his game. He’s going to have to enforce the new lay of the land, let House know that Foreman isn’t Cuddy and at the same time command his respect. He knows there’s a certain space you have to give House in order for him to operate at his full capacity, so what’s interesting in the first few episodes is both of them trying to find that “comfort zone.” Foreman knows House is going to be House, that he’s going to pull shenanigans and what have you. But Foreman’s ready — it’s the new regime, and he believes in himself and he got the job for a reason. It’s pretty exciting, creatively.
TVLINE | Might we learn some new things about Foreman through this storyline? Like, is he juggling this lofty position with perhaps a new love life…?
That would be interesting. I would imagine so, but I just don’t know. Chicks do dig a suit and a title!
TVLINE | Dr. Park (played by new series regular Charlene Yi) was obviously Foreman’s hire. What does she bring to the team?
Foreman thinks she’s smart – really smart – and she’s got a little bite to her, which is interesting. Again, having an assumption of how someone is going to operate once they are thrown into the fray with House, it’s all a gamble. [Laughs] And also, because as you said it’s Foreman’s hire, in his mind he thinks that she is his “in,” the eyes behind his head. That’s his thinking, though I don’t know if its go to turn out that way!