Derek Luke Derek Luke

While lots of shows focus on medical emergencies inside the ER, NBC's Trauma is centered on the scene of the accident, star Derek Luke says. caught up with Luke about how intense filming has been and why he chose this project as his transition from film to television. What drew you to Trauma?
Derek Luke:
I happened to work with one of the producers before, Pete Berg, [who] directed me in Friday Night Lights. I thought who best to understand me coming from film and...we had the same goals to inspire. I never felt like I was leaving film to come to TV. I always felt that because the stakes were so high, the part was so juicy, it was an open path to go and do both. And I really fell in love with my character. It's clear your character will have some struggles balancing his career with his family. Can you talk more about that?
Luke: I play Cameron Boone and...he's the only guy [on the team] that has a family. It's something to be traumatized at work, but to have to hide it on the inside because it's so heavy [and] you want to be the filter for your wife and your kids. I want Boone to represent the average working man and his challenges. He can be heroic on one side, but he can fall flat on his face on the other. The end of that opening scene is intense. How was it to film?
Luke: We were on location — on the bridge, on the skyscraper — and it was an actual helicopter, but the parts flying toward us had to be green-screened. You're imagining that you just finished doing this call and all of a sudden everything is going wrong that was supposed to be right. The people that usually attend to the trauma have been traumatized themselves [and are] working through it. It's an adrenaline rush. I haven't had this much fun in a long, long time. You've played numerous roles that are inspired by real people. Are you more drawn to bio-pic type projects?
Luke: I call it a hat that I submit to because when I look at the character, I never look at the surface, I look at the heart. Whether it's a rapper, a military man, I don't mind yielding to the crown of being a human-type actor — I love it. I don't attract it but I don't discourage it. Do you feel pressure in those roles?
Luke: No, I have a view of excellence in my heart that whether you're watching TV or paying money for a movie I want you to feel like [you] didn't pay enough for admission. There's always a criteria that I have set in my heart so that people can go, "Wow," every time they watch, whether it's action or comedy.

Trauma premieres Monday, Sept. 28 at 9/8c on NBC.