Char Sidney is still pretty new to acting, but she comes complete with an impressive list of skills. In addition to ad-libbing her way through scenes opposite Jon Voight, the Ray Donovan actress has also modelled and is…are you ready?…a registered ICU nurse. Splitting her time between the three professions (yes, she moonlights at hospitals), Sidney is quick to mention that she loves anything where she gets to interact with people. Like Jon Voight or Liev Schreiber. No big deal.
Let’s talk about Ray Donovan. Tell me about your character.
My character Mercedes is one of the prostitutes in the crew. When I first read for the role, it was slated for a redhead, so I kind of knew the odds were against me. They were looking for a type of girl that wasn’t me at all. But I went for it and obviously it worked out. It was only supposed to be one episode, possibly two, and I only had three lines. It turned into an eight-episode arc.
Playing a prostitute, I’m picturing interesting costumes.
It’s funny, I think the photos in this feature are sexier than anything I’ve worn on the show! I’m only ever in casual clothes. It’s almost like you’re watching an off-duty prostitute. It’s very much behind-the-scenes, like how does the money get transferred? How do they interact with each other? It’s more about that than about what they do with clients. No thigh-high boots this season.
With a cast that includes Jon Voight and Liev Schreiber, was it intimidating going in on your first day?
It was definitely intimidating, but I felt reassured when I saw how open Jon Voight was to giving advice. He brings up the entire level of the cast, and you can tell he just want you to do well. When I worked with him on the first day he kept giving out tips.
I started out as a model, so I’m very used to hearing different ways to do something, and it felt like he was there to help. He’s won every award an actor can win and doesn’t have anything to prove. It ended up making me feel a lot more comfortable on set.
What tips did he give you?
The main thing he said to me was to do more and be open to trying new thing and going for it. If the director doesn’t like it, he’ll tell you not to do it. Otherwise, experiment and improvise. I always thought that we had to stick to the script, but I’m finding that we’re allotted some wiggle room and can play around with our lines. Jon was the one who let me know that I should be open to it and to go for it if I feel like it’s called for.
What do you do to relax after filming dark scenes?
I kind of just try to leave it all on set. By trade, I’m a nurse so I’ve had to deal with a lot of loss throughout my career. When families have lost someone and are dealing with it, you kind of have to be the strong, practical one. But on set, you have to showcase your vulnerability and use it. And that’s sometimes even harder!
How long were you a nurse for?
A few years. I finished school for it in 2012. I work in an ICU unit where patients are stable, but sometimes it’s a little touch-and-go.
How did you move from nursing to modelling and then acting?
I know, it’s strange! A few months ago my mom showed me this board that I made when I was around five years old where I wrote down a bunch of things I wanted to be when I grew up. And now, I’ve accomplished half of them. Nurse, model, actress, it’s all there. There were others like ‘be a junior Olympian’ and ‘buy a yellow house’ for whatever reason, but mostly I’ve achieved what I wanted.
Do you think you’ll go back to being a nurse?
I’m still a nurse! I’m a registered nurse in the state of California. I actually will still work part-time when I’m not filming because I like to keep busy. It’s honestly something that you can’t leave. Even if I picked up a lot more acting jobs, I’d still want to do Nurses Without Borders.