‘Chicago Med’: Patti Murin Talks Shorestead, Optimism and Puppies

‘Chicago Med’s’ Dr. Nina Shore is marvelous both on-screen and off. Patti Murin tells us about Shorestead, Nina’s secret to happiness, and puppies.

There’s no sunnier doctor on television than Dr. Nina Shore from NBC’s Chicago Med. The pathologist is a walking ray of sunshine, and in Season 2 she’s become a bigger part of the show’s world and a big part of what’s made it even better. Before Nina’s return in tonight’s fall finale, Hidden Remote talked to Patti Murin about her character’s disposition, the new romance we call Shorestead and, of course, puppies.

Nina first appeared in Season 1 when Dr. Sarah Reese (Rachel DiPillo) was contemplating a career in pathology, and Murin told us that she knew she’d have more screen time in Season 2. “I knew that I was going to be coming back for a bunch more at the end of last season,” she explained.

She found out that Nina would be getting together with Dr. Will Halstead (Nick Gehlfuss, pictured above right with Patti) from a close personal source – her husband Colin Donnell, whom Chicago Med fans know and love as Dr. Connor Rhodes.

“Right at the beginning of filming maybe or I don’t remember exactly when it was,” she recalled, “but Colin actually texted me and said, I found out what you’re doing this season. He said you’re going to be a love interest. I said, not your love interest? He said nope. He had a big smile, and I was like, obviously Nick. That’s the obvious choice. I was like, Nick? And he was like, yep.”

“Everyone had got such a kick out of it in the beginning because it’s hilarious,” Murin continued. “His wife is a very good friend of mine, and he is a good friend of mine as well. We laughed a lot. His wife sent me a text and she’s like, this is hilarious.

“It’s actually the best case scenario because Nick and I have known each other for a year, and we’re good friends. It makes it so much more comfortable,” she added. “You don’t have to get to know anyone. It’s just like, oh, this is Nick. We love each other, and it actually is pretty great.”

That rapport is part of what’s made Shorestead a plus for Chicago Med. It was obvious the story path that the writers were going down, keeping Will apart from Dr. Natalie Manning (Torrey DeVitto) by giving her a new love interest. But there was no reason not to let Will live his life in the meanwhile and Will and Nina genuinely click in a way that is separate but equally interesting.

That wouldn’t have worked with anyone else but Nina Shore, and that in turn is because of Patti Murin. Nina has an eternally positive energy that directly counteracted Will’s bitchy, jealous attitude that he started Season 2 with, and she’s also helping him out of his financial hole by offering to let him move in with her. But that spirit and that big heart are traits she shares with the woman playing her.

“I just love that they took me as a person and sort of really recognized that that could be a fun character,” Murin told us. “Like the smiling; I love that she smiles so much. Honestly, when I watch the show back, I’m like, oh my god. I’m literally smiling all the time. Also, shout out to my dentist because my teeth look awesome.

“I feel very, very, very lucky to have been given this and also [for them] to keep giving me more,” she continued. “I think that it’s an interesting idea, that someone who works with something so morbid, death and everything, could really sort of compartmentalize that and still be an incredibly optimistic, positive person.”

That attitude has added a little extra something to Chicago Med. Most of what happens on the show is so gravely serious – understandably as we’re talking about life and death – that it means something to have a character who is opposite to that. Who reminds us that things will be okay. Who has a warmth that’s infectious. Just the fact that Nina shows up in a scene makes us smile, and that’s a welcome break from not only the struggle going on in each episode, but even the toughness going on in the world.

But could there be a cloud on the horizon? Last week’s episode “Inherent Bias” featured a buzzy moment when, just after Nina asked Will to move in with her, the camera panned back to Natalie. We’ve also seen Natalie appear to be taking a second look at Will. So should fans be worried about Nina getting her heart broken?

“I don’t know about worried,” Patti said. “I don’t actually know what’s coming up, but [Manstead] are the OG ship of the couples on the show. Who knows? I figure as long as they don’t kill me, I can still be a part of the show somehow. They can tell whatever story they feel they need to tell. I’m all for it.”

Of course should the worst happen, it’s easy to suggest that Nina just move on with Dr. Rhodes so that the real-life couple can play an equally adorable TV couple. As awesome as it would be to see Murin and Donnell work together, does she think Nina would actually click with Connor?

“I’m not sure,” she conceded. “Honestly, we’ve been seeing a little bit of a lighter side of him this season I feel like. He’s still very serious and very intense and very focused, but I feel like he’s getting to smile more than usual.

“I feel like Dr. Shore is pretty obviously very, very optimistic and very kind of just takes things as they come. She’s the happiest person that works with dead bodies probably in the whole wide world,” she continued. “I feel like they could make a good match. I feel like she would make him smile.”

Make it happen, writers – especially since, as crazy as it sounds, these two have never actually had dialogue together in a Chicago Med scene yet.

“We have been in the same scene, but never talking to each other,” Murin explained. “There was one scene on the marathon team [in “Extreme Measures”], when we brought the patient in. I didn’t have any lines; I was just coming in.

“I got to at least work with him that day, and I feel like there was one more maybe that was kind of the same situation. We didn’t talk to each other, we just happened to be in the same place at the same time. We’ve never actually acknowledged each other on the show.”

That seems like a massive oversight from a fan standpoint, considering that we’re talking about two very talented people who would obviously work well together, but Murin told us that the lack of scenes together actually has its benefits too.

“It’s pretty amazing,” she said. “It’s kind of awesome because we are working together, but we’re not spending every single moment of our entire lives together. It’s cool because we come home and talk about work, and we were both working with the same people obviously and so we know everyone, but we have different stories. We have different experiences. It’s really sort of a best case scenario. We’re actually very lucky.”

If Season 2 of Chicago Med has been your introduction to Patti Murin, you’re just scratching the surface. She’s a woman of many talents, particularly when it comes to music. Like her husband she also hails from the stage and you can hear her singing on a number of cast recordings currently available on iTunes. You should also bounce on over to YouTube and check out some videos from her show at 54 Below appropriately called “Literally Patti Murin.”

In short it would seem like there’s nothing she doesn’t excel at, but Murin told us there’s still plenty that she’d like to do.

“Everyone always asks if you weren’t acting or an actor, what would you do?” she said. “I kind of wonder how late is too late to go back to school, like veterinary school. I really think that if I were to ever transition out of this, it would be a natural transition.

“That’s something that I volunteer in a lot. I’m going to start volunteering in Chicago, as soon as I get back. I’m in New York right now; I volunteer here. I actually have the cutest foster puppy at home right now who makes me want to just stay home and cuddle him all day. I think that that’s something I would really like to sort of, as opposed to helping out other organizations, maybe even figure out in five, ten years how to start my own.”

“I’ve always loved animals,” she continued, “and dogs especially because I am allergic to cats unfortunately. About a year and a half ago when I started volunteering, I was like oh, my gosh. It sort of spun my world around [that] there are so many places that I can put my energy and my love in this world of animal rescue. It’s even expanded to wanting to get a little further involved with the zoos and animals being held captive.”

So if you somehow needed another reason to be a Patti Murin fan, she’s also doing her part to make the world a better place by assisting our furry friends. Hers really is a situation of art being inspired by life, because she’s out there with a smile on her face and a helping hand just like Nina Shore. The only difference being that Nina works with dead people, but otherwise the character and the actress are both equally lovable. To paraphrase something that Connor once said to Will, the world needs good people, and Patti Murin is good people.

Plus, she gives us an excuse to show you cute pictures of puppies:

Speaking of things that people love, we know that Nina loves her job and loves Will, but what excites Murin? What would she call herself a fan of?

“I freaking love to read. I read probably two books a week. I’ve loved to read since I was young. Obviously I love TV. The Bachelor, Bachelorette, that’s pretty much my jam, that whole thing. These are the dark months for me right now when it’s not on. Come January though, I’m going to be back on the Twitter. I’m also very good at fantasy football.”

And she has a brand-new TV addiction.

“I love John Oliver so much. That’s sort of a new thing,” she revealed. “I’ve been actually DVRing Last Week Tonight for a while now, but I really just started committing to watching them every Monday morning or whatever. He’s right up there with The Daily Show and Colbert Report; that’s where he came from. He’s really, really phenomenal to watch and see how smart he is, but also how hilarious he is. John Oliver is numero uno on my list right now.”

Unfortunately (but understandably), Murin can’t be in every episode of Chicago Med. Does she ever wonder what Nina’s doing when we don’t see her? “I sort of assume that she is working in the basement, working on some bodies. There’s also mentions of me in episodes that I’m not in, which is nice,” she said, while pointing out, “She’s living her best life. Got a boyfriend, she’s got a good job.”

You could also apply those sentences to Patti Murin. She’s clearly living her own best life right now, with plenty of talent, an awesome marriage, and a wonderful cause dear to her heart – and she’s doing a great job helping bring Season 2 of Chicago Med to even better life. Let’s hope we see even more of her when the show returns in January.

The Chicago Med fall finale airs tonight at 9/8c on NBC. You can also follow Patti on Twitter (@PattiMurin) and join the conversation using the hashtag #ChicagoMed.