'Grey's Anatomy' comes home to Seattle -- finally
SEATTLE (KOMO) -- A helicopter over Elliott Bay, a ferry boat crossing the sound. There's nothing out of the ordinary seeing these every day in Seattle, except in late July, when they became the backdrop for scenes in the upcoming 14th season of "Grey's Anatomy."
Despite Seattle's being the home of "Seattle Grace Hospital" - now "Grey Sloan Memorial" - few actors on the show have ever actually stepped foot in the city during its 13 year run. "I've been on the show now for nine years, but never been to the city where the show is set!" said Kevin McKidd ("Owen Hunt") shared during a break from filming.
"It's great to be back," added Justin Chambers ("Alex Korev"). "Definitely an important character to the show, this city."
KOMO visited with several of the actors during their two day trip over the summer preparing for a new season that will also include episode 300.
"It's a great blessing, getting to work with the people I want to work with, I get to play a character that's fun and pay the bills. Can't ask for anything more!" Justin said.
All the actors remarked how much they enjoy getting out of the studio and shooting on location.
Jesse Williams ("Jackson Avery") says, "As an actor trying to communicate a story, it's always helpful to be in the most realistic environment as you possibly can. It means getting out of your scrubs, into some human clothes and moving around and having real interactions with people and being outside in the elements. It adds a sense of realism to it."
The Seattle based scenes took the cast and crew to the Fremont Bridge, Gas Works Park, Kerry Park, along the waterfront and, of course, on a ferry.
While talking with Jason George, he pointed to a ferry with two helicopters hovering over it. "Ellen Pompeo ("Meredith Grey") is on that ferry looking beautiful in the sunlight, and that helicopter is trying to capture the majest of all of Seattle and Ellen Pompeo."
While none of the Seattle scenes will appear in the season premiere, they will be scattered throughout the rest of the episodes leading up to episode's 8 mid-season finale.
"They're making up stuff on the spot, they're like, 'Let's shoot this, and we'll find a place to get it in.' "
Kevin McKidd was on double duty: acting and directing while in Seattle. "I'm feeling like I've really found my feet as a director, it's been great training for me. I love it almost as much as acting, but acting is always going to be my first love."
Debbie Allen also returned to the director's chair this season. Despite the chaos of coordinating a helicopter to shoot aerials of Ellen Pompeo on the waterfront, she still had time to hang with the fans and take selfies.
Many of the "Grey's" actors have stepped behind the camera. Chandra Wilson will direct her 17th and 18th episodes in the coming season. "Visually it just expands my mind on how to get the audience to see a story. It's up to you as a director what you want them to see, so that decision making is very interesting to me and to see it come together in the editing room it’s like, 'Yea, yea that's what I wanted them to feel, that's what I wanted them to see.' That's what's really exciting."
The show known for its twists, turns and disasters ended season 13 with an explosive fire and the reveal that Owen Hunt's sister was still alive and not killed in action.
"Honestly, I wasn't surprised because the dynamic between Owen and his sister was fun to play," Kevin said. "I think this bombshell in the middle of Owen's life is going to make him reassess a lot of things globally in his life, including his marriage and I think that will be very interesting."
Fans have very strong feelings about the relationships on "Grey's Anatomy," including #Japril, made of Jesse Williams' character "Jackson" and Sarah Drew's "April."
"I think I just really like working with her, I really trust her, she's a tremendous actress and person and we're really great at listening to each other and really honing and developing these characters and their dynamic."
Many fans are wondering if Jackson's next romance could be with Kelly McCreary's character "Maggie."
"They seem to be toying where that could go, and that's really fun because Kelly McCreary is a tremendous person, nevermind a tremendous actress, and we got to really hit it off towards the end of last year as we got to spend more time working together so I'm really excited to be able to explore that."
Other fan questions surround original characters Alex and Meredith, and whether their relationship will move beyond friendship.
Justin told us, "Ellen's great to work off of, there's great chemistry there. I like that there's sort of a sibling love for each other." And as for romance rumors? "People project and see what they want to see, and that's all in Shonda's head. It will go where it goes anything is possible, as an actor my job is to fly with what's written and justify it in my mind and I can do that."
The relationship between Ben and Bailey has also created a special friendship between Chandra and Jason. "Bailey and Ben come from a place that it is a given that they're justt going to be together, that's just all there is to it."
Jason added, "Chandra Wilson and I have so much fun playing Ben and Bailey, we just fall into this rhythm, which is fun, we give each other crap, I tease her mercilessly, like she's my sister or something." But with the recent announcement that George is joining the "Grey's Anatomy" firefighter spinoff, many are wondering if that puts Ben and Bailey's relationship at risk.
The cast isn't sharing much about what season 14 will bring. We do know the action starts up right where last season ended, Bailey is leading efforts to clean up the damaged hospital, an early episode will flash back to Owen, his sister and Nathan in Iraq. Some actors did mention that the table read for the season premiere brought a lot of laughter. Chandra says "That's always the case with us, no matter how serious something is, you have to find the human humor in it, otherwise you know, how are you going to get through anything?"
Kevin adds, "That's what the new season feels like, this very positive, upbeat, uplifting theme."
Now nearly 300 episodes in, there are good reasons these actors and their fans keep coming back.
"The No. 1 reason is I continuously enjoy Miranda Bailey," Chandra said. "She never ceases to amaze me or she never disappoints me, I never know what's going to come out of her mouth, and that's what's really exciting."
Jason says, "It's the relationships, for me it's the relationships, on camera and even off camera."
"As long as I can be satisfied creatively, feel alive, feel vibrant, it's great to have a home base I'm extremely grateful," Jess Williams added.
Watch for more coverage on the "Grey's Anatomy" visit to Seattle all week on KOMONews.com and SeattleRefined.com.
The season premiere airs at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28.