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Wednesday, 24 January, 2001, 11:20 GMT
ER star Edwards to leave
Anthony Edwards at the Screen Actors Guild awards 1999
Edwards picking up a Screen Actors Guild prize for ER
Actor Anthony Edwards is to leave top-rated medical drama ER at the end of his current contract, he has announced.

The 38-year-old has played Dr Mark Greene since the series first appeared in 1994, and picked up a $1m bonus in 1999 when producers Warner Bros reached a lucrative deal with US network NBC.

But he said he was "99% certain" about leaving - and he was not trying to boost his position for contract negotiations when his current deal ends at the conclusion of the 2001-2002 series.

"If they want to talk to me about that, they should have talked to me a long time ago," he said.

'A long time'

Anthony Edwards
Edwards wants to spend more time at home
"It's been eight years of my family working around my schedule. It's been a long time playing Dr Greene."

The father of-three added: "I'll be almost 40 when this is over. It will be almost 24 years since I started. I love to act, but to act every day for 10 month a year and not see your kids - it's more of a family thing."

Edwards also plans to spend time producing and directing. He is a partner in production outfit Aviator Films.

ER executive producer John Wells said: "Tony is an integral part of ER and has been essential to the success of the show.

"Though we would love to have him stay, we understand if he wants to move on and we will miss him greatly."

Playing Dr Greene has not been without its traumas - the character has endured a divorce, separation from his daughter, a severe assault, the deaths of both his parents and, more recently, brain cancer.

Leaving 'in flames'

Edwards said he would like to see his character leave the show "in flames", adding: "There are a lot of trains in Chicago - you could trip in front of any one of them."

NBC is contractually committed to the series, which runs on E4 and Channel 4 in the UK, until at least 2004.

It has survived other high-profile departures in the past - notably those of George Clooney and Julianna Margulies.

Two other actors who were in the original ER cast - Eriq La Salle and Noah Wyle - are also at the end of contracts next year.

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See also:

17 Aug 99 | Entertainment
Dr Benton's $27m cut
19 Feb 99 | Entertainment
End of an ER era
20 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Clooney hits Birmingham
19 Jan 01 | Entertainment
E4 launches with US favourites
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