Sandra Oh “Came Apart” When She Left Grey’s Anatomy
It’s been three seasons, and Grey’s Anatomy fans are still petitioning for Sandra Oh to return as the brilliant Cristina Yang, Meredith Grey’s (Ellen Pompeo) twisted sister and person. While we doubt Cristina will return to Grey’s Anatomy anytime soon, since Sandra just signed on for a new gig on BBC America, we still have our hopes up that she will show up for the series finale of Grey’s Anatomy at least! Until then, we’re taking a look back at Sandra’s first post-Grey’s Anatomy interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
On Her Last Day On Set
“I will say, my last day, people asked if I was going to be sad. I didn't know. But by the end of the day — which ended up being late since we shot late — Kevin [Owen Hunt] threw me this little party. There was lots of celebration because the party was myself, [co-showrunners] Tony Phelan and Joan Rater, who [both also] left. Gaius Charles [Shane] and Tessa Ferrer [Leah] had left earlier that week. The party was joyous for me — the whole day was. I was so excited to come to work. I came in early, which I never do, and hung out.”
On Her Final Table Read
“I realized during this last month that the table read is definitely a ritual. I sit in the exact same spot every time because I'm a creature of habit. Every single table read for 10 years — that's 200-odd episodes. It was this ritual that we have every week, to come together to read these words. It was really rich. What got me was, we were starting and as we're all sitting down, our casting director Linda Lowy came up to me — she cast the pilot and put me in a lot of stuff before Grey's like 'Under the Tuscan Sun' — she came up to me and hugged me. Then we read the script, and it was great, and I was filled with all these feelings.”
On Thanking EVERYONE On Set
“We usually have a big lunch, but we didn't have it this year so I gave out 250 gifts. To give these gifts out personally and to look people in the face and say 'Thank you' to everyone — my stand-in, the grips, post, production, the writers — that helped me process a lot. That is why I think the day was joyous. With each person I was able to have a personal moment and tell them what I thought about them. I walked up to my DP, Herb Davis, who is not an emotionally expressive person and has been my DP for eight years. He made me look good, he protected me and taught me a lot. I went to give him this gift and I started crying. He scooped me up, put his arm around me, moved me into a private room and so much came out.”
On Her Gift
"Because it was a celebration, it was this beautiful champagne in a box, and on it is an anatomical heart and a '10.' It's was like, 'Here's my heart in a box for a celebration. Please take it. This is my gift of thanks.' It was inscribed on the back with a card, too. I walked into the OR with this gift for Linda Klein, our medical adviser, and just started crying. For me — and I think for the other person — it was good to have that moment of being able to say goodbye. I remember going toe-to-toe with her on the pilot. Everyone goes through being Linda Klein-ed — and I did that on the pilot. She's the best person in the world — the same with the DP — and just … everyone. I could tell this story a hundred times over with my makeup man, who has been with me since the pilot; with Susan Bale, who was our head editor who was on the pilot. Susan and I are good friends and we see each other a lot. I went up and said, 'I want you to know that I gave everyone in post a gift except you because I can't handle it.' I was just like crying and — this is so great — she goes, 'Don't worry. Just come over to the house and we'll just hang out," and it was just like, a lot.'"
On What She Was Feeling When She Said Goodbye
"Only thing: Be as present as possible to whatever feeling is going to come and be as open and giving as possible to my crew. The last day after lunch, Laura Petticord, my AD, told me Tony wanted to talk to me, and I knew something was happening. The entire crew — every single person from construction to rigging — everyone was in the lobby near where we were shooting. There was a bit of cider and my first AD, Chris Hayden, thanked me, Tony, Joan and various crew members. It was so great. They gave Tony and Joan their first script page with their signatures on it. They gave me the very first call sheet from the pilot and Cristina had this other last name. And they gave me the last call sheet. March 17, 2004, and April 24, 2014. My first and last days."
On How She Felt After Receiving Her Gift
"I came apart because I saw everyone was in one room. It felt extremely operatic. In that moment, I knew how this goes because I have been on a show before that lasted seven seasons [Arli$$], and I have not seen those crew members — who I think about a lot and was close with — in 10 years. Chances are, for the majority of the people I've worked with, I may never see them again. In that moment, it felt like one of those scenes where you're spinning the camera around the actor because I'm standing in the lobby and I'm turning around and seeing the set filled with people I've worked with for a decade. It was that moment where I realized I could publicly thank every single person for this experience."
On Getting Through The Day
"No. I was completely in tears — but not broken. It was not a place of being sad. It was a place of being tremendously moved. It's not like I broke down and I was crying. I felt so filled with the meaning of this moment that it was very emotional. I do want to try to be specific about the quality of the emotions because many people can be sad — and it is sad — but I was extremely moved."
On Preparing For Her Final Scene
"My very final moment of shooting was with Kevin, and it was the final moment where Cristina says goodbye to Owen. It was a beautiful image of Cristina in the gallery, basically behind glass and tapping on the OR theater below. Symbolically, with that distance, it cinematically tells the story of where they are and also puts a distance that they don't want between them. It felt right because it was tough shooting that. Both Kevin and I, when we were shooting each other's close-ups, the other person was in the complete dark. We were both holding a flashlight up to our face so that we could actually see each other. Usually Kevin and I are about a foot away from each other, so for there to be so much space between the glass was really rich. It's not happiness; it's not sadness. It was very full and rich — even in the way we wanted to be closer to each other, which is exactly like how Cristina and Owen are: They just want to be closer to each other. It's just not the time now."
On Her Final Scene With Ellen Pompeo
"My three most difficult scenes in the past three years have all been the same scene number. There was an episode in season six that I did with Kevin where I talked about Burke — the 'Pieces of Me' speech. That was Scene 44; I could barely get through it. Then in this season's Burke episode when Cristina equalized herself with Burke — that was Scene 44; it was really challenging. In the finale, Scene 44 was an extremely important scene between Meredith and Cristina. I remember reading it and I hated the scene. It made no sense to me and I couldn't connect to it. But sometimes the place that is the most resistant is, a lot of the times, the place to mine. It was deeply emotional. It was the last scene that Ellen and I shot. I can't speak for how it was for her to shoot that, but at the very end, I remember feeling for our chests embracing. I'm holding her and I can hear that she's tearing up. I was holding her and it felt like we were one body.
The one line that was the most filled for me was when Cristina says, 'You and I, Mer, we're not finished.' At the wrap party, they showed the famous scene where Cristina asks Meredith to be her person. From that to the point where Cristina is saying, 'You and I are not finished,' is like the two sides of one coin. Their love is like that. I felt very fulfilled with Cristina saying goodbye to Meredith. I have to give Cristina her space and her truth to say goodbye to her best friend. These two know what's coming, which is a great change in their lives. That's how I want to frame it, with all the feelings that come along with it. This great change is happening and eventually Cristina has to ask Meredith to help her with the final change. 'I need you to help me to change,' she says or, '… to make this change.'"
On Speaking To Shonda About Coming Back To Grey's Anatomy One Last Time
"We talked about that when I told her I was going to leave but we haven't talked about it again. There are certain things that Shonda and I talk about once and then we leave it because we want things to happen without pressure. I told her, 'If you guys want to finish it out however you want to finish it out, I'd be more than happy to come back. And if it doesn't fit in that way, I totally understand. I just want you to know that I'm available.' Who knows! I might be doing something fabulous and it might not work out but I did say, 'Yes, of course I would.'"
On Her Takeaway From Cristina's Journey
"I think back to Scene 44 — the last scene that I shot with Ellen — and this one line that had tremendous specific meaning to me. It's Ellen's line where she says, 'I am not finished.' In the context of the scene, it means something else because Cristina is trying to leave and can't because she doesn't feel finished. What was challenging for me was, I was finishing. I spent the past year finishing to get the character to this moment. But for me, it was the specific interpretation I had of Cristina saying, 'I am not finished.' That speech fills me now. That speech is about how she is not finished. Anyway, I wish I said that more eloquently because I cannot tell you how much that line means to me."
Does anyone else really miss Cristina Yang now?? Who is ready for her to come back?!
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