With Mercy Street less than a week to go before it debuts, both The Washington Post and USA Today caught up with Mary and her co-star Josh Radnor to talk about the show. First up are some highlights from the WP interview:
For Winstead, part of what was exciting about playing Phinney was the opportunity to portray a character whose views are commonplace today but were considered radical in their time.
“I almost felt like I had it easy, because women like Mary Phinney and Louisa May Alcott [both of whose nursing experiences informed Winstead’s character] and women of that time had these personalities that were so modern, and so like they were plucked and sent back in time and landed in an era that was unfamiliar to them,” Winstead told me last fall. “They’re sort of like ‘Everyone is so crazy, there are these basic truths.’ They believed that so passionately that it feels like a modern sensibility, so so much of the dialogue and how the characters sort of behave— or my character specifically — felt very relevant to now for me.”
Phinney, trained by Dix, finds herself in conflict with Anne Hastings (Tara Summers), who worked with Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War, when Dix appoints Phinney to be the head nurse at Mansion House Hospital.
“The number of dead, the number of wounded, you would think they would want to take help from anyone who would give it,” Winstead said of how hard women had to fight to be allowed to serve. “But to think that women were still kind of turned away, or treated with disdain, or treated like they couldn’t be helpful; the women who actually did gain some respect and gained a place, you can see how they would be threatened at the thought of losing that.”
And speaking with USA Today, Mary had this to say on what drew her to the project– the women of that time:
“All the nurses before that point had been men. This was kind of the first time that women went out there and said, ‘No, I’m going to be a part of this. I’m not just going to sit at home. There’s too many people out there dying and we need all the help we can get,’ and they basically demanded to be a part of this war.”