Jada Pinkett Smith is back in “Hawthorne” on TNT

By Fred Topel

HollywoodNews.com: Jada Pinkett Smith joined TNT’s lineup of power women with “Hawthorne.” On the network that also hosts “The Closer” and “Saving Grace,” Smith plays Christina Hawthorne, the head nurse who gets it all done. The second season, premiering this month, throws Christina for a loop. She gets transferred to a new hospital, where the old regime is stuck in their way, and won’t even let Hawthorne help.

“This year it’s all about Christina surrendering,” Smith said in a conference call with the media. “She is going to have to surrender this year. Last year, she was so in control and so stern and strong. And, you know, she was always right. This year’s going to be a little different. She’s going to have very high stakes in her personal life in which she’s going to have to really make some hardcore strong decisions. She this year is going to learn to work with people versus rolling over people and working around people. She cannot do that in this hospital this year. So she has to take a much different attitude as far as how she deals with her staff and the people that she’s working with. So I think you’re going to see a Christina who is going to fight like tooth and nail to keep in her control but eventually is going to have to let go.”

The new hospital also provides new opportunities for Hawthorne’s love interest, Dr. Wakefield (Michael Vartan.) “My character, which is really cool in the story, he quits being chief of surgery to get away from the red tape and the bureaucracy and he’s now just a surgeon which is what this guy always wanted to do,” Vartan said. “He’s just really enjoying his life as a normal surgeon. Of course it’s television and the writers are evil so they throw a wrench in his plans. He has a life altering accident that is going to cause a lot of problems for him and his potential future as a surgeon and add a whole new level of intrigue and commitment and problems with Christina and the way she deals with it.”

Romance still brews for Hawthorne and Wakefield. The accident comes in episode two and by the end of episode three this year, their relationship is a struggle. “It’s going to be a very interesting journey for the two of them,” Smith said. “Christina’s got a lot to learn and a lot of things she’s got to work through.  But I will tell you this that it’s going to be a lot of ups and downs this year when it comes to Tom and Chris.”

On most shows it’s “will they or won’t they.” On Hawthorne, they will, but it’s complicated. “I like to say that what happens at the end of episode three is basically the driving force for this entire season,” Vartan said. “It opens up, as you can imagine, a whole box of all kinds of good and bad stuff. A relationship in the workplace, on the best of days, can only be complicated I would imagine. Given these two, their history, the intense level of passion and feelings they have for one another, it’s going to create a lot of problems for them and also give us as actors a chance to really have fun. Conflict is always more interesting than flat scenes. No one wants to see happy people having fun. We want to see flawed people overcoming obstacles and drama. It’s really changed their relationship for sure and there’s going to be a lot of conflict and just very hard, very messy and very complicated.”

Fans of Hawthorne will enjoy seeing Christina and Tom develop their relationship. They’ll also enjoy the new additions to the cast. “We also have a new cast member, a British actor who’s really fantastic and quite handsome I must say,” Smith said. “He’s one of our new doctors, a new doctor dynamite that we have on the show this year, Adam [Rayner]. So I think people are going to be pretty pleased with some of our new cast members. Also Vanessa Bell Calloway came on and blessed us for eight episodes this year. She’s my nemesis this year. I hope people are pretty happy with what we did with casting this year.”

Hawthorne welcomes some A-list guest stars to upcoming episodes this year too. If you want to see a rock star visit the hospital, stay tuned. “Oh man, Mark Anthony came on for two episodes and ripped it,” Smith said. “That was a real blessing to have Mark Anthony for those two shows. We did a really interesting episode together. And Debi Mazar came on who I love. Debi and I have worked a lot together. She did All of Us the first season and then we did The Women together. So she came on the show.”

Smith comes from a whole family of actors. Her husband is arguably the biggest movie star in the world, Will Smith. Even her kids are getting into the game, but they might be too busy to come on mom’s show.

“It’s interesting, my kids really wanted to do Hawthorne the second season, Jaden and Willow,” she said. “They were begging me and I was just focused in another area. I don’t think I’ll actually be able to get them next year because I’m almost sure they’ll be doing some movie somewhere. So probably not but I am blessed enough to have my husband. My husband was a very, very, very, very intricate part of Hawthorne this year. He’s what we call our ghost producer.”

You’d think if Will Smith worked on a TV show, they’d want to advertise that. He took a backseat though and helped behind the scenes. “He came on this year and really, really with my team and I, Glen Mazarra and Miguel Melendez really put his head down on Hawthorne and really helped us solidify the vision of Hawthorne. So in that way, my family is a part of Hawthorne. Luckily enough my kids enjoy the shows because my kids have no problems telling me what they do and don’t like. So luckily they love Hawthorne.”

Hawthorne returns June 22 on TNT.

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