Alex Kingston: Calling Dr. Corday

When we asked Kingston about her real and fictional lives, both she and her ER alter ego were a week from delivering their first baby.

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Alex Kingston plays Dr. Elizabeth Corday on the award-winning TV series ER. In everyday life, the British stage-trained actress is married to journalist Florian Haertel; on screen, she’s pregnant by fellow ER physician Mark Greene. When we asked Kingston about her real and fictional lives, both she and her ER alter ego were a week from delivering their first baby.

FIT PREGNANCY: Your due date is eight seconds from now, and you’re still in front of the camera. How are you coping?

ALEX KINGSTON: Lately, it’s all I can do to remember my lines; everything else goes to mush. On the whole, I’ve had a great pregnancy, but I think because I’ve been such a trooper, the producers are working me right up until the end. I’m hoping I don’t deliver on time — I’d like a few days for me and my body to calm down first.

FP: “Listen, honey, Mommy’s a star on episodic television, so if you could not be born for one more week ...”

AK: Don’t laugh. I’ve done that, especially after last week. We worked 16 hours Thursday. I was pretty shattered.

FP: Seems we need to have a nice, firm chat with those producers. They are, we take it, men. By the way, have you had any morning sickness? AK: During the first trimester, no one knew I was pregnant, and we were doing story lines in which I was working on gory traumas ... opening the chest, shocking the heart ...

FP: What got you through it?

AK: Dry rice cakes. Later I discovered these wristbands for travel sickness, which helped. That’s what tipped off some of the other women cast members — they saw me wearing the wristbands and went, “Hey, wait a minute, she’s not traveling anywhere.” FP: One day in the distant future this will all seem very funny.

AK: Actually, it’s only this last week that I’ve been losing it. Before that, I was really calm. A friend had her baby shower this past weekend and driving there, I couldn’t find the street. I looked for an hour, and then I just gave up and went home. My husband said, “Oh, don’t worry. I’ll drive you.” But I burst into tears and went, “Noooo. I can’t go-ooo.” I just kept sobbing and sobbing. FP: Any peculiar aversions, aside from open-heart surgery?

AK: Yes, and this is so sad. We have two dogs, and for a while I couldn’t stand to get close to one of them. I felt terrible because she didn’t know what she’d done wrong.

FP: So, what’s your fitness routine, other than working a gazillion hours?

AK: I take long walks in the hills with the dogs. And I have my prenatal yoga class. We do exercises that strengthen us mentally as well as physically. I’m hoping to go through labor naturally, and I believe this class has given me all the tools.

FP: How are you and Dr. Corday different in terms of your pregnancies? AK: I’m more in tune and grounded. Corday isn’t as well informed about pregnancy as I think a doctor should be. Men also write the show, you see. But I’m doing my best to make her as calm and earthy as possible. FP: Do people ever stop you on the street and ask for medical advice? AK: Not on the street, but in fan mail. After our show about Mark’s brain surgery, a viewer who had a similar tumor called to ask about the controversial surgery we showed. They gave him the information, and suddenly he had a new option.

FP: Life imitates TV, but in a good way. How soon after you deliver do you go back to work?

AK: Well, there’ll be one last episode and then the hiatus. They’ve told me I don’t have to do that last episode unless I want to. Part of me feels I have to show up. But another part of me figures I’ve given them enough.

FP: Repeat after us: “Just say no.” Have you received any strange baby gifts?

AK: Just one. This furry bear that makes womb sounds. I think it’s kind of scary. I tried it on the dogs, and it freaked them out. FP: Believe the dogs. What’s your favorite pregnancy moment?

AK: All of it. It was hard for us to get pregnant, so I’ve welcomed every bit, even morning sickness. I could go a month longer just celebrating being pregnant. And I’m really enjoying my belly. I know I’m going to miss it when it’s gone. — Celeste Fremon

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