The Anatomy of 'Grey's'
Now in its third season, Grey's Anatomy—one of the "steamiest" shows on ABC—follows the personal and professional lives of five surgical interns at Seattle Grace, the fictional hospital where all the drama goes down. You just never know what the show's creator, Shonda Rhimes, and her team of writers has in store!
Oprah flew to Los Angeles to interview the entire cast where the action takes place—the infamous elevator, the nurses' station, the operating room and Joe's Emerald City Bar—the popular watering hole across from the hospital.
In the show's premiere episode, Ellen's character, Meredith Grey, has a one-night stand with a man she meets in a bar...only to find out the next day that he's a top surgeon at the hospital where she's an intern. Patrick plays Dr. Derek Shepherd, a neurosurgeon who Meredith and her friends affectionately nicknamed "Dr. McDreamy."
After a brief romance, Meredith finds out that McDreamy is still married to his estranged wife, who's joining the Seattle Grace staff. Millions tuned in every week to see how this love triangle would play out. Finally, after months of waiting, Oprah and other Grey's fans were thrilled to learn that Meredith and Derek may finally make it work!
"I think it's nice we've gone through that phase of the relationship and we're now going forward, and we can see how they work out their conflicts," Patrick says.
Ellen says she's also excited that her character's true love finally came around. "It's fun to not be fighting anymore," Ellen says.
On November 10, which is Ellen's birthday, her real-life "McDreamy" proposed over a plate of French toast, she says.
"Show 'em the rock!" Patrick tells Ellen as she shows off her sparkler to Oprah.
Patrick recently learned that his wife Jill is pregnant...with twins! "McDreamies or McDreamettes?" Oprah asks.
"McDreamies," Patrick says. "I think it's going to be a lot of fun. You just want a safe pregnancy and birth, and [you want] the boys to be healthy...and patience when they're crying."
Cristina is known around Seattle Grace as an ambitious perfectionist who'll stop at nothing to make it to the top. Sandra's portrayal of this manic intern won her the Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe in 2006!
Though Cristina has brought Sandra accolades, she says in real life, she'd never be friends with her character. "[Cristina's] lacking a lot of self-awareness," Sandra says. "I don't want to be friends with her because she obviously has tremendous intimacy problems."
Sandra may not want to be Cristina's friend, but she says she would want Cristina to be her doctor.
The only chance Sandra gets to show Cristina's softer side is during scenes with her on-screen boyfriend, Dr. Preston Burke. Sandra says she thinks Cristina truly loves Preston, despite her tough exterior. "I think they really love each other," Sandra says. "I think she has a problem of feeling understood, but something about him understands her."
In the episode, Izzie's fiancé Denny, who also happens to be a patient, dies after receiving a heart transplant. To prepare for this emotional scene, Katherine says she sat alone on the set, listening to sad songs on her iPod.
Katherine also drew from personal experiences to make this moment as honest as possible. When Katherine was a child, she lost her brother in a tragic accident. She says she talked to her mother before the scene to get a sense of what it's like to lose a loved one.
"Pain is pain," Katherine says. "I wanted people who had had that kind of experience or who had lost someone suddenly that they loved to know that there are people who have felt this...there are people who are out there that you can identify with."
In real life, Katherine's love life isn't nearly as tragic. In fact, she's also engaged to be married to her boyfriend, musician Josh Kelley!
Chandra tells Oprah that the best part about playing Miranda is getting to "holler" at people and getting away with it. "They can't do anything about it, you know? There are no repercussions, whatsoever," she says.
Although Chandra isn't at all like Miranda in real life, she says she draws inspiration from her own mother, the family's disciplinarian, and teachers. "Most of it is really kind of a teacher mentality," she says. "What I try to always say [is], 'Once I have control of the classroom, then I can get something done.' Obviously I don't have control of the classroom."
Addison started out on the series as the woman America loved to hate after she returned to Derek's life to reconcile, forcing McDreamy and Meredith to end things. Now, she's become a fan favorite! "I don't think people told me when they didn't like me as much," she says. "But now they're coming up, like, 'We didn't like you...at all. Now we do.'" Kate says.
Kate says working with the many men of Grey's Anatomy is "just delicious." So who does Kate want to see Addison end up with? "So many choices, so little time. ... I don't know, maybe there will be a surprise guest, who knows?" Kate says. "But I do like that Dr. Karev."
Sara was playing "The Lady of the Lake" on Broadway when ABC producers spotted her. "They said, 'Be on our network, pick a show.' They sent me every show they had, and Grey's Anatomy was my favorite," she says. "I was a huge fan." After breakfast with show creator Shonda Rhimes, Sara had a part!
Sara says she was a wreck on her first day, especially because she was cast as a love interest for an actor she had a crush on—T.R. Knight, who plays Dr. George O'Malley. "It was surreal to meet the characters because I was a fan," she says.
Now Sara's so comfortable with T.R., she even has a kissing pact with him! "When you're very close to one another ... the breath can sometimes play a part," Sara says. "We just agreed to ... let each other know if we need to chew some gum or have a mint."
In a third season episode, the men of Grey's Anatomy went camping and tensions flared between George and Dr. Alex Karev. The only way to settle it? A slap fight, of course! T.R. says filming the comedic scene wasn't as fun as it seemed. "We were doing the fight and I had shirtsleeves on," T.R. says. "[Justin] had his jacket on so he got all this padding underneath his arms and I went down to the shirtsleeves, so it was a little painful."
Despite the small on-screen tiff, T.R. says working with the cast is really like working with family. "We've been together three years," he says. "You form a family."
Meet the chief!
James has been acting for 25 years and says the success of the show is definitely surreal. "These kinds of things come along I think once in an actor's career and to be involved in something like this with a cast like this, with a writing staff, with somebody like Shonda, it's more than an actor can ask for," James says. "We don't take it lightly, take it for granted. It's a great ride."
Eric says since becoming such a ladies' man on television, his wife, actress Rebecca Gayheart, loves to make fun of him. "I never thought of myself that way," he says. "When I get out of the shower, she's constantly wondering where the guy was that she saw on TV."
Although millions of people watch him on television every week, Eric doesn't count himself among them. "For me, the experience to have is actually making it," he says. "And, you know, you start watching it and then eventually you're going to start looking at things you don't need to be looking at."
In real life, Justin has been married for 12 years and has five kids, ages 5–12. "Having five kids, it's really nice to have a job, a successful show," he says.
Justin says he's amazed at how fans have embraced the show. "It's awesome, you know? I mean, when we shot the show we had no idea of an air date or how it would turn out," Justin says. "It's nice walking down the street and see[ing] people smile—and they really watch week to week and they really enjoy the show."
"I lost my cool but it wasn't coming out of a place of animus for Patrick or T.R. or anyone. It was coming out of a place of trying to stay focused about the work," Isaiah says. "I've been working with these beautiful men for three years now and we had an argument as brothers. It came about at a time and a place that was overwhelming for both of us."
Despite what reports said, Isaiah says the argument was just that. "What it was not, was a brawl," he says. Isaiah says his reaction was below his personal standards and has apologized to the cast and crew.
When the argument broke out, James called a meeting to clear the air, as any good chief would. "We're a family. ... With families you have a beef. It was a beef, no more, no less," James says. "We got a chance to go ahead and air some stuff. It was done, and we went back to work."
Patrick says he thinks a lot of good came out of the argument. "I think what happens is we needed to just be open and be able to communicate and not let things build up," Patrick says. "I think we've come to that point where it's much freer to communicate with each other, and we're more relaxed because of it. I think the whole company's tighter."
"I do spend a lot of time thinking about where it's going and where I would like it to end up," Shonda says. "At the time when I really thought I knew how it was going to end, I think we thought we were going to be on for a lot less episodes. It's been great to sort of have success, but I have to stretch out where I think it's going to end."
With a staff of 10 writers, Shonda has plenty of help keeping things going, and the actors themselves sometimes incorporate their own ideas into the script.
Scripts are kept tightly under wraps, but Oprah can't keep herself from asking about rumors of a wedding. "Hmm," Shonda says. "Weddings are nice."