As a recent TV Guide cover story pointed out, NBC's ER survived its first full season sans both fan faves George Clooney and Julianna Margulies partly on the strength of its formidable roster of female talent. With that said, Ming-Na (who plays the medical drama's Dr. Jing-Mei Chen) looks forward to the added firepower of returning original castmember Sherry Stringfield (as Dr. Susan Lewis).
"I worked with Sherry during the first season, so it's really exciting," Ming-Na tells TV Guide Online. "Her character was so loved... It will be really good for the show."
Ah, but will it be good for Jing-Mei's love life? After all, as some root for romance between the headstrong beauty and Noah Wyle's Dr. Carter, the fact remains that, with leading man Anthony Edwards entering the last year of his contract, Carter seems a logical target for Stringfield's on-screen affections. "A lot of people wish that [Jing-Mei and John] would get together," Ming-Na notes. "When they brought back my character [in January 2000], I thought they might pick up on the great dynamic we had from the show's first season."
While that ER dating dilemma unfolds, should Ming-Na find herself in need of a confidence boost, she has no better source to draw from than fellow physician Dr. Aki Ross the computer-animated, alien-busting heroine she voices in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (opening today). "I think I have good confidence," the actress shares, "but Aki is brave and has amazing confidence."
Which is not to say that Ming-Na has nothing to offer her pixilated counterpart. "In the beginning, she was just focused on 'saving the world' a small goal," she jokes, assaying Aki's attitude early on in the film's lengthy production. "But over the years, I've been able to bring out her vulnerability and add the softer side of being a woman."
As for the film's cutting-edge animation which some have quipped may make human actors obsolete Ming-Na says the Screen Actors Guild has little to worry about. For now. "We'll be fine," she says. "[SAG] just negotiated a great deal for us... But in five years, maybe we'll have to copyright our images!"