Will Noah Wyle leave ''ER'' next? The only continuous original cast member says he may be ready to turn in his scrubs

By Mickey O'Connor
October 08, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT
ER: Robert Trachtenberg
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After watching George Clooney, Juliana Margulies, and William H. Macy split ”ER” for feature-film careers, the show’s producers are used to losing top talent. But now it seems that Noah Wyle, who has played Dr. John Carter since the show’s debut in 1994, may also leave when his contract expires at the end of next season.

”I think most actors are born with a drop of gypsy blood in that they like to be jacks-of-all-trades but masters of none,” Wyle tells TV Guide. ”And I’ve been sort of a master of this one trade for a very long time. So the need to do something different is definitely growing within me.”

His departure would weaken an already ailing roster at the No. 2-rated drama. The most recent cast exodus, which included leads Eriq LaSalle, Anthony Edwards, and Michael Michele, was thought to be balanced by the announcement that original cast member Sherry Stringfield would return and that Wyle had signed on for three additional seasons.

He explains his character’s importance in the TV Guide interview: ”[Carter] is the utility player you can plug into anybody else’s storyline as a reactive character or a sympathetic character to allow the audience to see through his eyes.” Though Carter has been the victim of both a brutal stabbing and an addiction to pain killers within his tenure at County General, the quiet character has generally not occupied the spotlight, overshadowed by more vivid players in the ensemble cast. ”There have been a lot of juicier roles on the show,” Wyle says. But none more important.

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