Five Days At Memorial's Cornelius Smith Jr. On Recreating Hurricane Katrina's Aftermath — Exclusive

Apple TV+'s docudrama "Five Days at Memorial" depicts the increasingly devastating circumstances faced by the medical workers and patients at one New Orleans hospital in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. As the streets flooded and the power went out, the situation at Memorial Hospital became increasingly dire, and evacuations were going anything but smoothly. It's a situation the limited series recreates with evocative authenticity.

The vivid portrayal provides viewers with a palpable understanding of what the doctors and nurses at the hospital went through as they realized they would have to make life-or-death decisions about which patients they could save. This makes "Five Days at Memorial" very difficult to watch, but what was it like to be an actor filming on those sets? Cornelius Smith Jr., who plays the upstanding Dr. Bryant King, spoke to The List about bringing the brutal aftermath of Hurricane Katrina at Memorial Hospital to heart-rending life.

The sets helped Smith feel like he was there

Smith indicated that although "Five Days at Memorial" was filmed in Toronto, far from New Orleans, where the events of the series took place, the crew did such a good job designing the post-Katrina hospital setting that it felt real to the actors. "It was crazy a little bit because they did a great job. If everybody's doing their job and they're doing a great job, then it feels very real for us in taping it, so there's the blessing and the curse of that," Smith shared. "It lends itself to me actually feeling like I'm there because of the hard work of the crew and everybody involved, but then also, it lends to that door of being emotionally available because you have everything right there to tap into."

Smith added that the cast also contributed to the feeling of realism, observing that the ensemble's work contributed to the visceral experience of both filming and watching the series. "[That's] not to mention the wonderful cast that I had the pleasure of working with, and them being so supportive and present — and that's across the board," Smith noted. "Everybody, in my opinion, in the series — every single person, to the background people, to recurrings, the guest stars, every single person that graces the screen — brought life to those characters, which is why we have such a powerful and touching series."

New episodes of "Five Days at Memorial" premiere on Apple TV+ on Fridays.