Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Chicago Med's Devin Kawaoka Is Shocked By Fans' Hate Of Dr. Kai Tanaka-Reed

Arriving early in Season 8 of NBC's "Chicago Med," Devin Kawaoka's Dr. Kai Tanaka-Reed quickly reveals the sort of persona he'll bring to the E.D. of Gaffney Chicago Medical Center. He speaks out of turn. He oversteps his training. He corrects senior doctors. In fact, from his very first involvement with a medical procedure at the hospital, the pushy new intern manages to almost cause the death of a patient being treated by Dr. Crockett Marcel (Dominic Rains). And in the aftermath of that near-fatal incident, Kai reacts peevishly and actually files an HR complaint against Marcel for lack of respect. And that's just the start of Tanaka-Reed's cocky and infuriating behavior on the show.

But despite his character's consistently irritating nature, Kawaoka himself was surprised at the adverse reaction of Chi-Hards who seem to find Tanaka-Reed, well, consistently irritating. "It was shocking," Kawaoka admitted to Tell-Tale TV. "I think it was more shocking than I thought it would be in the sense of how the Chicago universe and fans responded to it." Remarking that actors often have to rationalize the way their characters act in order to justify less-than-admirable behavior, he laughed and added, "But then to hear people really hate on him was incredible and humbling." However, the actor also feels Dr. Tanaka-Reed may have a personal history that accounts for how he comes across to others. 

Kawaoka says there could be logical reasons for Kai's grating behavior

In the same interview, Devin Kawaoka explained that his character is a perfectionist with a strong need to prove himself worthy as a physician. But he said this drive to succeed is also shaded by the uncertainty that comes with being a novice who finds it hard to communicate with the other docs and nurses in the department. He then pointed out that as a newbie in the E.D., Tanaka-Reed isn't entirely comfortable yet with his co-workers and as a result, he tends to overcorrect when he does make a mistake.

Speaking with NBC Insider about Tanaka Reed's distinctive personality on "Chicago Med," Kawaoka said that the character's sometimes off-putting over-confidence is a form of coping mechanism. "There are many reasons why Kai's arrogance is a cover for his insecurities. I don't want to get in the way of the writer's room, but as an actor, I've imagined many possibilities." In this respect, he speculated that the young doc may have come from a disadvantaged background and so tries a bit too hard to impress his peers to make up for this fact. Kawaoka then summed up his take on the character by saying that Tanaka-Reed is basically "an introvert at heart and suffers from some social anxiety from not fitting in."