Roland Buck III on 'Chicago Med,' 'The Long Road Home' & his upcoming Netflix comedy, 'The Week Of' (EXCLUSIVE)
Photo Credit: Betsy Newman Photography
Interviews , Television

Roland Buck III on 'Chicago Med,' 'The Long Road Home' & his upcoming Netflix comedy, 'The Week Of' (EXCLUSIVE)

Roland Buck III exudes charm. The Chicago Med actor has been capturing hearts on the NBC medical drama as Dr. Noah Sexton, and now with a whirlwind year under his belt and an exciting 2018 just around the corner, Buck is ready to show the world how versatile he is. The 29-year-old is no stranger to the grind. “This year’s been pretty busy, and I’m glad, it’s changed a lot,” he reflected. “I just think anything worth having doesn’t come easy. I think everything is hard or should be in anything that you love to do — if you could just have it, then it loses its luster.”

When he thinks about his acting career, the Chicago native relates it to his time on the football field. “I think football and sports taught me a great work ethic,” Buck revealed. “I’ve been through some practices that physically felt and mentally felt like I was about to die. But I didn’t. So when you push your body and your mind to a certain limit you know you’re not going to die. It’s okay, you can just keep pushing forward. The pain, the struggle won’t last forever. I use that toward acting as well. You figure out what works for you and what doesn’t, but the preparation and the focus — what you put in on the downtime is what people don’t see. Acting gives me that same immediate satisfaction, the thrill of losing yourself in something, and getting that immediate response from people evoking some kind of emotion. That’s the only thing that gave me that rush and that chill, so I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

Wearing Dr. Noah’s scrubs has been a ton of fun for Buck. The reluctant doctor is always cracking jokes and trying to find the silver lining in every situation. Noah’s humanity is what spoke to Buck when he first read for the part. “I think sometimes you look at someone in a uniform, or in a specific position, (and) you don’t see them as a brother or father or a son anymore,” he explained. “You just look at them as a doctor or a police officer or a soldier. They’re just like us; they can mess up. That’s what I liked about Noah. I think this is a different story of a doctor that you haven’t heard yet. There’s a lot of people that are first-generation Americans, and their families moved from different countries to make a better life for themselves. The medical field is a steady job profession. I think Noah makes mistakes. He’s genuine and he’s growing, he’s learning. I like that he has redemption, I like that he’s flawed, I like that he’s a doctor of color in Chicago. He’s charismatic with the ladies, so he’s not a square, by any means. He shows that it’s cool to be a doctor. You don’t have to perfect either. You can be a lot more than what’s been shown on TV. And I think that’s good. I’m grateful and humbled that I got that opportunity to portray that.”

Chicago-Med

On this season of Chicago Med, there is one storyline that Dr. Noah fans are eagerly tuning in for. The Emergency Medicine physician has developed quite a thing for Dr. Sarah Reese (Rachel DiPillo), even though the Psychiatric Resident isn’t returning any of his affection. “Noah doesn’t give up, “ Buck explained laughing. “He is persistent. He will wear you down, and I think, it’s something different with Sarah. It’s something that’s intriguing him. He knows he has to come correct and not just to flirt and just holler at her. It’s something more there. He’s genuinely interested, and he’s willing to take the time and wear her down. He doesn’t mind hearing, “No” a few times, because “No,” just means “Not right now.” But maybe later?”

Working with industry titans like Oliver Platt and S. Epatha Merkerson on Chicago Med means the USC alum is also learning a great deal about his craft. “I think I just sit back and listen and just try to absorb like a sponge,” he expressed. “There are questions that they ask, their way of looking at a script, their input and blocking and how to shoot their specific in-depth thoughts about their own characters. It goes way beyond what I’ve seen before. It’s great to watch them work because it’s effortless.”

Dr. Noah isn’t the only role that Buck is lending his talents to these days. He is also currently starting on National Geographic Channel’s miniseries The Long Road Home as SPC Raphael Martin. The series is based on the April 2004 Iraq military ambush known as Black Sunday. As different as Raphael and Noah are, Buck has been able to find some common ground between his characters. “Raphael is a jokester in a sense, but he’s covering up something with the jokes,” Buck explained. “He was a gang member; he’s one of the only ones that’s seen death up close. He’s fighting for his life on domestic soil, and now he’s fighting for his life on foreign soil, it just seems like he can’t escape it. They’re very different shows, but it’s still two large ensembles. The Long Road Home is telling a true story and is representing the soldiers as humans as well. I’ve been lucky to have characters that are not stereotypes. So I’m very lucky in that sense. I did miss wearing the scrubs while I was in full army gear though.”

Though Buck is spending a great deal of his time learning medical terms, he’s also gearing up to stand with industry titans, Chris Rock and Adam Sandler in the forthcoming Netflix comedy, The Week Of. The film centers around two extended families meeting up for a massive wedding. For Buck, being on the set with the legendary comedians was the experience of a lifetime. “Adam was awesome; he took me to my first Yankees game,” Buck said. “I put on a World Series Ring, and I’m like, ‘Adam, man, do you get this every time?’ And he’s like, ‘No, it’s ’cause you’re here.’ Adam’s great, we played basketball during lunch on set. It was awesome. Chris was great as well. I went to his show where he performed with Kevin Hart and Dave Chappelle and Amy Schumer and I was like, ‘Man, this is crazy.’ I could watch these guys doing nothing, they influence me so much, and I’m so blessed to have this opportunity to play Chris’s son. It was amazing. On set, the one person that really stood out was Steve Buscemi. He would go in and he would do his take and it would be like one take. The first take would be just amazing, and it’s like one line sometimes. He’s just so genuine.”

With so much on his plate, Buck is embracing whatever comes next. “I’ve been blessed to have three totally different roles,” he explained. “Chicago Med is a medical drama, The Long Road Home —it’s like a war drama, and now a comedy. For me to be seen in many different lights helps me not get type-cast. Maybe they’ll give me a shot to carry a film all by myself. It would be interesting to see how people take to it. I think these three characters are totally different from each other. What I would love is for people to say, ‘Who is that?’ And then they look at my resume, and they say, ‘Oh, that was him in Chicago Med? Oh, that was him in A Long Road Home?’ You know what I mean? You don’t see me; you see the character.”

So what’s next for one of PEOPLE Magazine’s Ones to Watch? “I think, just speaking into existence, I’m even busier in 2018, ” Buck explained. “We don’t know what’s next; we still audition, we still grind away. But we’ll see what happens; maybe award season might be around the corner for us.”

Chicago Med and The Long Road Home both air Tuesdays at 10 PM on NBC and National Geographic Channel respectively.

Find Buck on Instagram and Twitter @RolandBuckIII

Aramide A Tinubu is a film critic and entertainment writer. As a journalist, her work has been published in EBONY, JET, ESSENCE, Bustle, The Daily Mail, IndieWire and Blavity. She wrote her Master’s thesis on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema. She’s a cinephile, bookworm, blogger and NYU + Columbia University alum. You can find her reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, read her blog at: www.chocolategirlinthecity.com or tweet her @midnightrami

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