For this Thursday’s Grey’s Anatomy (ABC, 9/8c), cast member Kevin McKidd stepped behind the camera to direct an hour in which Derek is dealt a surprise, Callie and Arizona deal with their baby “bump,” and Bailey gets perhaps a bit too social in the OR. TVLine spoke with the great Scot about his turn calling the shots, getting “busted” by his leading lady, and what the future holds for Owen and Cristina.
TVLINE | I understand Owen has a date with the dentist this week, just so you could go and play director.
That’s right, yeah. [Laughs] He’s gone numb for the day.
TVLINE | What are the big storyline thrusts for this episode?
It’s the first day of Derek’s Alzheimer’s trial, and that’s addressed in a very sensitive way, as far as what the affliction it does to families and couples. I think Derek was under the impression it would be this analytical process, but it’s much more emotional than he and Alex thought. There’s also a fun storyline with Bailey, where she becomes a Twitter queen, sharing all the strident work she’s done. But she and Richard lock horns over that.
TVLINE | Yeah, I was wondering: Do I really want a doctor tweeting from the OR?
Supposedly it’s become a great teaching tool in the world of medicine, because students can follow hugely famous surgeons and watch their decision-making happen moment-to-moment. And also there’s Callie, Mark and Arizona, who are really in murky water. How do you move forward with this strange family they’re creating?
TVLINE | Were you working with dramatic or lighter beats for the Calzona story?
It’s dramatic and quite light. Basically, it’s Callie’s moment to have kind of a meltdown. She hopes that Mark and Arizona can work together and both be in her life, but she’s anxious. She becomes kind of hyper-alert and ends up driving her OB doctor, played by Rachael Taylor, to distraction –- and with very funny, touching results.
TVLINE | As director, do have a small hand in steering a new character like Rachael Taylor’s?
A little bit. The actress brings her own thing, and she is fantastic, so you just capture what she gives you. It wasn’t so long ago that I started on the show, and it is nerve-wracking to step onto a ship that is already sailing. I talked to her a lot about my experience, and she told me that helped relax her.
TVLINE | The episode synopsis also says, “Cristina is back, stronger than ever” – to which I say, “Thank God.”
Yeah, she’s being her old scrappy self, doing anything to trample over anyone in her way to get blood on her hands and cut. It’s fun to see her back to her old tricks.
TVLINE | Knowing Sandra Oh as well as you do, did you ever have to “catch” yourself doing something as a director that you know irks her?
Funny enough, there were a couple times like that. As a director you have to tell the story as clearly as you can, so sometimes you ask an actor to do things that may seem slightly obvious because its going to read well on camera. So I asked her at one point to do one thing and she was like, “No, no, no…. You don’t get to do that just because you’re director!” [Laughs] I was bang to rights, and we had a big joke about it.
TVLINE | I understand it’s not necessarily smooth sailing ahead for Owen and Cristina.
In Season 5, when Owen Hunt arrived, he was essentially a basket case; Cristina was there for him and supported him. In Season 6, he was flaky, all over the place, didn’t know who he loved, all that…. Now it’s his turn this season to pay Cristina back and be her man, her rock, to give her everything she needs. Sometimes he gets it right, sometimes he gets it wrong, but his intentions have been very good. Now that she’s back to full health, this being Grey’s Anatomy, what’s better than when there’s angst and disagreement? So yeah, there’s some trouble ahead for them – and hopefully some comedy as well.
TVLINE | What’s the trouble stem from – family planning?
They just have major disagreements. They rushed into marriage because they loved each other….
TVLINE | There are worse reasons.
Exactly, but sometimes you don’t find out everything you to find out what that person’s beliefs are about certain fundamental things. They haven’t quite done their due diligence on each other, and a lot of that starts to come to light. How are they going to move through that and stay happy, knowing that maybe what one person wants isn’t what the other person wants?
TVLINE | What was your biggest challenge, directing-wise? Was it the tone of a storyline, a set piece….?
Some episodes we get to go outside, but my episode was very static. So my big challenge really was to change the location of many scenes from being two people talking in a room to “We are walking down a corridor” or “We are in the cafeteria.” Hopefully I kept things moving.
TVLINE | Are you personally all set for Grey’s Anatomy’s “musical” episode (airing March 31)? I hear it’s born of a medical crisis for Callie.
Yeah, it’s going to be told from her point of view, and it’s a big episode. We’re in the middle of recording all the final tracks, and it’s very exciting to do something that’s completely out on a limb for the show. It’s cool to be on a show that is willing to take some risks like that, because otherwise you can be doing the same thing, day in, day out, for a long time. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out!