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‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Cast Share Messages For Their Characters In Season 20

Now well into its 20th season, Grey’s Anatomy has become the longest-running medical drama series in television history, and it does not seem to have any plans of slowing down or taking a final bow anytime soon.

As part of celebrating this milestone in episodic storytelling, longtime Grey’s actors Camilla Luddington, Kevin McKidd, James Pickens Jr., Kim Raver and Caterina Scorsone attended the tenth season of SeriesFest in Denver, Colorado on Friday, alongside season 20 showrunner Meg Marinis and leading Shondaland executive producer Betsy Beers, to discuss the legacy of their beloved series and to support fellow creatives, striving to make an impression within the entertainment industry today.

Wondering if this cast could ever have imagined that they would be at season 20 of Grey’s, Pickens, Jr., who has played Dr. Richard Webber since the pilot episode that first premieres in March 2005, said, “No, I was glad to have another job at the point. There was something in the first season and after the pilot, and there was starting to be a buzz that you don’t usually hear when we do shows. I can’t really describe it. One of our old executive producers was very prophetic in saying that this show was – there is something else happening here. Then to fast forward now 20 seasons and to have the impact that it has had, and the fans who have been so engaged and who have kind of taken this journey with us for these 20-odd seasons – that’s really gratifying for us. Oh, maybe we’re doing something right!”

McKidd, who played Dr. Owen Hunt since season five, said beside Pickens Jr., “I remember when I first got offered the show, I was sent the DVD box sets and I sat and watched them back-to-back, and I was like, ‘Wow! This show is a big deal.’ And so, I came in day one and I was nervous to come in as Owen Hunt. I remember – it was me, you (James), Patrick (Dempsey) and Eric Dane, and you had to introduce me, your character (Dr. Webber) introduced me to those two. You were the first person I did a scene with and I was shaking in my boots. Jim is so sweet and generous towards me and welcomed me in. The character (Hunt) has gone through a lot, but it was nerve-racking in the beginning.”

Raver, who has played Dr. Teddy Altman since season six on Grey’s, said of the series reaching 20 seasons, “That’s lightning in a bottle, but that’s also a testament to Shonda (Rhimes) and all of the incredible writers that just – they are able to tell these stories, and I think that our fans are so incredible. I think the fans are really relating to the stories because they have a hero moment, but they also have a very fallible moment of where they are not doing such great things. I think that is very relatable.”

Scorsone, who first appeared on Grey’s as Dr. Amelia Shepherd in season seven, said of reaching this milestone season, “That was unheard of! We didn’t know that you could do that in television. I can’t believe it! -I can believe it. It does feel a little dream-like, though, and very meta. Our lives have unfolded while we were playing these characters. It’s a very strange situation.”

Luddington, who has played Dr. Jo Wilson since season nine, said, “It’s wild! It’ll never happen again to me. I call it my unicorn!” She added: “I think the reason I want to stick around is because I love the stories we’re still telling. It’s incredible to be on a show for this long and still feel like every season, you’re challenged as an actor. I think we can all attest to that, and that makes us all want to stay on the show.”

Co-founded by Randi Kleiner and Kaily Smith Westbrook in 2014, SeriesFest, which runs from May 1 through May 5, is a non-profit organization that champions and empowers artists at the forefront of episodic storytelling, by providing year-round opportunities for creators and industry experts to connect, collaborate and share stories. Together, the Shondaland production company behind Grey’s Anatomy and SeriesFest continue to partner in offering a Women Directing Mentorship opportunity to up-and-coming industry creatives.

Being a part of such a trailblazing television series, the cast of Grey’s expressed their enthusiasm to get to be a part of this unique festival.

Luddington said, “It’s incredible! I mean, we all started somewhere and had to work our way up, and this is a festival that celebrates that and mentors people. And so, to be here supporting that is amazing.”

“I think it’s wonderful,” Scorsone said. “It’s so much more true to a human’s life experience, which often happens in episodes. When you’re working with film, you kind of have a beginning, middle and end and you know how it’s going to resolve, and humans are never like that. There’s something really alive working in series television and creating this really dynamic character, and then seeing what environmental factors impact them and how they unfold from there.”

Raver said, “I think it’s important that once you’re sort of lucky enough to be in a show that has been running for so long, or that thing of reconnecting to where it was when you started. Starting out as an artist, it’s really hard! There’s not like a prescribed way of like, If you do this, then this happens. I think that’s where our strength lies in being an artist also is that we support – I want to say young emerging artists but any emerging artists at whatever age. So, I think it’s really exciting that we can be here and remind people who are working to try to create shows and create content and that it will come, if they just keep sticking to the work and keep connecting and hearing stories.”

Pickens Jr. said, “I must admit – I was not familiar with the SeriesFest, so I tried to do a little proactive research on it – but yeah, anything that helps to promote television series and new content and promoting these characters, I think, is great .”

With season 21 already confirmed and even more season 20 episodes airing Thursday nights on ABC and streaming the next day on Hulu, I concluded our conversation by asking these Grey’s actors what they would say to their characters, after embodying them on-screen over the past several seasons, with plenty more stories left to tell.

Pickens Jr. joked about his Dr. Webber, “You still here?”

McKidd said of his Dr. Hunt, “I’d say to Owen, I’d be like, ‘Calm down a little, Owen.’ He’s a little wound tight. He needs to calm down – that’s my advice I’d give my character.” He added: “He has had a rough road for a few years, so he needs to go to a spa for a couple days.”

Luddington said of her Dr. Wilson, “I would like to give her a hug and congratulate her on championing her own mental health and seeking therapy because that was hard for her to do, and I think it’s so important and she took care of herself and gave that gift to herself. ”

Raver said of her Dr. Altman, “I think along those lines of forgiveness. I think Teddy is – there has definitely been some choices that she has made in her life that may not have been the best choices, but I feel like she is really emerging into a great time in her life, where she’s trying to dive in and juggle motherhood and career and marriage and friendship, and I think that’s a very relatable thing to juggle. So, I think I would say to her you’re doing a great job, forgive yourself for the mistakes that you have made and just keep on going and doing the best that you can.”

Scorsone said of her Dr. Shepherd, “You’re doing a fantastic job. Make sure you’re doing your trauma work. You are brilliant, you are beautiful, you are authentic. Don’t be like everyone else. The things that make you not typical are the things that make you fantastic, and that’s the miracle of this experience. And so, be it as loudly and beautifully as possible, and hopefully that will then transmit all of the beautiful, unusual, gorgeous people that are watching.”