Noah Wyle opens up about how his time as Dr. John Carter on ER changed his life both personally and professionally

By Christina Dugan
May 03, 2019 10:00 AM
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Back in Chicago to film his new show, CBS’ The Red Line, Noah Wyle, who rose to fame 25 years ago as Windy City doctor John Carter on the beloved NBC medical drama ER, is having some major flashbacks!

“It’s an unbelievable city for me to walk around in, because as I walk around, it’s as if ghosts walk around that city with me,” Wyle, 47, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “It’s like, ‘Oh, that’s where I punched Dr. Benton (Eriq La Salle). Oh, that’s where I delivered a baby in a trash can. Oh, that’s where we found that homeless guy and I did CPR on him.’ ”

Looking back, Wyle — who starred in the show from 1994-2005 and again in 2008 — says his days on ER changed his life drastically, both professionally and personally.

“[It changed me] in every single way possible,” he says. “Not only was it transformative in terms of taking a very young, unknown actor and turning him into an extremely well-off, well-known actor, but there’s a big difference between 23 and 37.”

“To living in an apartment with a cat, barely able to keep a ficus alive, then married, you have children, living on a ranch full of animals,” he says. “It was a really amazing experience. And so singular. It goes in its own category.”

ER
Noah Wyle as Dr. John Carter
| Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

And you better believe Wyle and his famed costars — including Julianna Margulies and George Clooney — stay in touch.

“We all are accountable to each other, and we all keep in touch, and I think the sense we could get together again and explore what those characters evolve into is extremely high,” he says. “That being said, it will never happen.”

  • For more from Noah Wyle, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

“There’s been lots and lots of medical shows that look and feel like it,” Wyle explains about why he doesn’t think a reboot is likely. “But aside from the just guilty pleasure of seeing what Hathaway (Margulies) and Ross (Clooney) would be like now, or what Carter and Benton would’ve evolved into, I don’t think it’s going to ever happen.”

These days, Wyle is staying busy with fatherhood duties — he shares daughter Auden, 13, and son Owen, 16, with ex-wife Tracy Warbin, and daughter Frances Harper, 3, with wife Sara Wells — and his new project, The Red Line.

NoahWyle The Red Line
Noah Wyle as Daniel Calder
| Credit: CBS

“It just really moved me as a piece of material,” Wyle says of his new show. “And I use how things affect me emotionally, oftentimes, as a barometer of how I should make a decision. I thought the likelihood of this being picked up was pretty slim, but the importance of doing the piece was large and I took it.”

Wyle, who plays Daniel Calder, a gay man whose African-American husband dies in an accidental police shooting, says it was important for him to tell this story — a narrative that is so timely.

“I don’t think there’s a lot of penetration on either side right now on any issue that’s divisive,” he says. “I think people are so incredibly entrenched in their point of view, and it’s very difficult to have any dialogue when that’s the case. So what I liked about this show was its attempt to tell this story that is a contemporary story, but from three different perspectives. As an audience, depending on what your perspective is, you may have an entrance point that could feel very familiar to you, and yet your exposure in equal amounts to equally legitimate points of view over the course of eight episodes hopefully will broaden your horizons just enough to allow you to hold a little bit more empathy for somebody else’s point than you have when you started the experience.”

The Red Line airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.