Dr Malachi Talmadge (Richard Schiff), Dr Kate McGinn (Kelli Giddish), Price (Nicholas Bishop) and Dr Karna (Ravi Patel) © Fox

In NBC’s new paranormal series, Past Life, Kelli Giddish portrays Dr Kate McGinn, a psychologist who uses reincarnation to regress her patients to past lives to help solve their dilemmas. Her partner, Price Whatley, played by Nicholas Bishop, is a former NYPD homicide detective, who despite his disbelief in her methods is impressed by their results. Dr Rishi Karna (Ravi Patel), an energetic M.D., is the rookie of the group.

I spoke with the actors about their new series, and their beliefs in otherworldly aspects of life.

Do you believe in past lives?

Psychologist Dr Kate McGinn (Kelli Giddish) © Fox

Kelli Giddish: Actually, when I was researching for this role, I went and had a past-life regression in New York, it was great. It was like having a stenographer for your dreams. I found out I was a fruit-picker in the old South. And then I was an Alaskan boy. So whether I really believe I was an Alaskan Indian, I don’t, but it sure did change my day when I came out of her office, I got to think, ‘perhaps.’

Nicholas Bishop: I came to the show being very much in line with my character, very skeptical, very cynical, and I think since doing the show, I have a lot more curiosity about the whole subject matter.

Ravi Petel: I don’t necessarily believe in reincarnation. I don’t disbelieve it, but it’s not something empirical that we can justify. I’ll tell you what. I do believe in karma, which I think is one of the major guiding principles of reincarnation, which is why I’m such a good person!

Are your characters going to be exploring their past lives?

Kelli Giddish: I would love to play that, especially being in the capable hands that we’ve seen the writers show with the stories that they’ve told so far, and the scripts that we get to do. I say, yes, let me go into a regression and see where that goes.

Former NYPD detective Price Whatley (Nicholas Bishop) © Fox

Nicholas Bishop: For my character, what a great journey to go on, being such a cynic and so skeptical about the whole concept. To delve into that would be really exciting at some point.

Kelli Giddish: And why are these people together? That could be something interesting too. The relationships we have in the present world are pretty defined, why have they ended up together throughout this whole world? Is there some special reason? There are all kinds of things like that to explore when you get to know the characters.

There are other shows in primetime now that deal with the paranormal; do you compare yourself with them?

Kelli Giddish: With a show like Lie to Me, Tim Roth’s character and my character [are similar] in terms of we each have a special skill set that is maybe a little outside the norm of what you can expect from a person. But, inherently the stories are going to be completely different because of who each of us is. He’s a wonderful actor, and I’m not comparing myself to him, but in terms of his character, it’s similar. It’s a very weird skill set that he has, to be able to [uncover a lie].

Do your characters have any superstitions?

Nicholas Bishop: My character has little angel that travels around with him when he gets into an automobile, especially with Kate! So he has a little guardian angel that looks after him when he’s driving. And he knocks on wood.

Dr Rishi Karna (Ravi Petel) © Fox

Ravi Petel: I think one of the cool things about working the show over a course of episodes was that it wasn’t what I expected it to be. When I started this, I thought it was just going to be a one-hour show about solving crimes and reincarnation. I didn’t really think about it much beyond that, but over the course of many episodes, what it revealed was that there’s no academic theme left unturned over the course of this series. Basically, it explores one given, if there is a connection between souls, then what else can be true?

Kelli Giddish: Right. And it was really pleasantly surprising and exciting to see all of the different things that come to light when you just create that one given. So superstitions [will be] addressed at some point.

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter. More by Judy Sloane