Q&A Interview with Grey’s Anatomy actress Chyler Leigh (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)
September 28, 2011 by Dennis Amith
With the DVD release of “Grey’s Anatomy – The Complete Seventh Season”, J!-ENT’s latest “Grey’s Anatomy” Q&A is with Chyler Leigh who plays the character of Dr. Lexie Grey, the half-sister of Meredith Grey.
Chyler has previously appeared on television series such as “Safe Harbor”, “7th Heaven”, “That 80’s Show”, “Girl’s Club” and “Reunion” and was also a former model. When we first featured Chyler back in 2009, Chyler talked about her pregnancy and bringing her children to the set.
With the eighth season of “Grey’s Anatomy” having premiered on Sept. 22nd, to promote the release of “Grey’s Anatomy – The Complete Seventh Season”DVD box set, here is a media Q&A featuring Chyler reflecting on season seven of “Grey’s Anatomy”.
How excited were you to be cast as Meredith Grey’s little sister in Grey’s Anatomy?
CHYLER: I was hugely excited to join the cast of Grey’s Anatomy. It was a big role to take on, but it’s been a fantastic experience. I jumped right into the drama because my first scene saw my character hitting on Derek Shepherd [played by Patrick Dempsey on the show]. I knew that would spell trouble for me because people want to see Meredith and Derek together, so some of the audience became a little angry at me – but thankfully they soon started to warm to my character.
How did it feel to walk onto the set for the first time?
CHYLER: I felt like the new kid in school in some ways. I joined the show during the last two episodes of Season Three, and by then the show was already massive. I was terrified because I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t even know who I was playing until three days before my first scene. However, I was welcomed into the family with open arms, which was wonderful. I was accepted and appreciated and celebrated, and everybody was excited for me. The entire experience has been a blast.
Why didn’t you know anything about your character until three days before you started work on the show?
My journey to Grey’s Anatomy was very nontraditional. I sat down with [Grey’s Anatomy creator] Shonda Rhimes and she told me that I was going to be a part of the show, but they wouldn’t tell me anything about the role. They told me I would find out that information closer to the time. It was Grey’s Anatomy so I wasn’t going to say no to the job. I would have played whoever they wanted me to! However, when they told me I was going to be playing Meredith Grey’s sister, I had a huge smile on her face. I was over the moon.
The Season Six finale was extremely dramatic. How does Lexie deal with the aftermath of the hospital shooting in Season Seven?
CHYLER: It is a very difficult time for Lexie at the start of Season Seven because she struggles with a lot of guilt. The shooter from the Season Six finale was a character called Gary Clark. He walked into the hospital and said, “I’m here to kill three people.” Those three people were Derek Shepherd, the chief and my character, so Lexie feels a lot of guilt that other people died when Gary was looking for her.
What else happens to Lexie in Season Seven?
A few months later, a student goes on a shooting spree in a nearby college, and that scrapes open a raw wound for Lexie. In fact, it opens up a raw wound for everyone involved in the hospital shooting at the end of Season Six. Lexie has an extremely difficult time handling the situation, but Mark Sloan [played by Eric Dane] helps her through it. He holds Lexie’s hand and encourages her, which causes her to say, “I love you.” It’s such a genuine and sincere scene, and I think it’s a big realization for Lexie. She thinks to herself, ‘Through good and bad, Mark is going to be there and he’s always going to push me to be better no matter what.’ That’s a wonderful feeling for her.
How would you describe Lexie’s relationship with Mark Sloan?
CHYLER: It’s a rocky relationship, but that seems to be the formula for the show. It’s a realistic relationship because you can’t expect things to be perfect and to work out exactly as planned. Mark and Lexie are in two different parts of their lives and that becomes evident as Season Seven continues. She is continuously slamming on the brakes because she is younger than he is. She is also younger in her career. A lot happens to them this season, and something in particular throws a wrench in the works – but I don’t want to give away any spoilers to people who haven’t seen the episodes.
What can you tell us about the musical episode in Season Seven?
CHYLER: The musical episode is something very different for Grey’s Anatomy and that’s what made it very exciting to work on. Even though it was a serious storyline in the episode, we were all laughing because it was so different. I was really keen to hear what everybody else sounded like because I love singing, but I didn’t know if everyone else would be excited to show off their voices. I couldn’t wait to see what this episode would look like on screen. There are some amazing singers on the show, especially Sara Ramirez [who plays Callie Torres] and Chandra Wilson [who plays Miranda Bailey]. Sara has one of the most beautiful, striking voices I’ve ever heard.
Did you feel excited or nervous about singing in front of the cameras?
CHYLER: I was really excited about it, although it was difficult to imagine how it was going to look and sound. At first I felt a little bit dubious – but I knew that Shonda would make it work. When she explained the concept to us, she mentioned that she didn’t think it would be like anything anyone had done before. She was right about that. It’s great. I was really happy when I saw the finished product.
Are there any other alternative or different episodes in Season Seven?
CHYLER: There is also a faux documentary-style episode in Season Seven where a film crew comes to Seattle Grace to film the goings on. They interview the staff and they video the interactions between the doctors and the patients, which is really interesting to watch. I especially love what Justin Chambers [who plays Alex Karev on the show] does with his character in that episode. You get to look into why he behaves the way he does and why he acts so tough when in reality he is extremely caring and soft. The audience gets a behind-the-scenes look at his love for pediatric care, which is really fun.
Do you think Season Seven is more light-hearted than previous seasons of Grey’s Anatomy?
CHYLER: Some episodes are light-hearted but there are many serious issues addressed this season. Without giving away too much information about specific storylines, there are a couple of episode which involve a lot of crying and that’s definitely exhausting as an actor. There is no denying that getting past the heavier, more dramatic episodes was a big relief to me – but Grey’s Anatomy constantly challenges us all as actors and that’s part of the reason why we love working on the show. We never know what’s coming up, so we’ve got no idea if we’re going to be playing someone happy or sad or emotional. However, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Getting this job has been a dream come true.
Grey’s Anatomy the Complete Seventh Season is now available on DVD.
Photo credit: ABC/BOB D’AMICO
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