‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Why Chandra Wilson Said Directing Sandra Oh ‘Was an Honor’

Grey’s Anatomy premiered on March 27, 2005. During its midseason debut, viewers met doctors Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson), Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), and the rest of the Seattle Grace team. Eventually, the hospital would turn into Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. 

In 2014, Oh left Grey’s after 10 seasons. Wilson shared her thoughts on her co-star’s final episodes in a recent interview.

Sandra Oh, Mary McDonnell, and Chandra Wilson on 'Grey's Anatomy'.
Sandra Oh, Mary McDonnell, and Chandra Wilson on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’|Randy Holmes/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ stars Chandra Wilson and Sandra Oh both auditioned for Miranda Bailey

Shonda Rhimes created Grey’s Anatomy shortly after 9/11. At the time, she decided to adopt her first daughter, Harper. While caring for her infant, the writer decided to try writing a television pilot. Because of her experience as a candy striper, Rhimes wrote a script about surgical residents in a Seattle hospital. Eventually, she created the pilot for Grey’s Anatomy. 

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Once she prepared the script, Rhimes started auditioning actors for the show’s ensemble cast. Although she knew Pompeo would be the series’ central character, Meredith Grey, she needed to find Bailey. Both Oh and Wilson auditioned for the part. Ultimately, though, the role went to Wilson, which didn’t bother the Killing Eve star

“I originally went in for the role of Dr. Bailey. I actually auditioned,” Oh explained. “At that point, I wanted to shift my career in the way of… I don’t want to play a person of authority.”

“I felt at that time because I’d played an assistant, that I was still in my late 20s — early 30s — people thought that I was much older,” she continued. “So in a thoughtful, strategic way, I was like, ‘I don’t want to play a person of authority.’ I want to play the junior. Because at that point, the only other part that was open was for Cristina.”

Why directing one of Oh’s final episodes was ‘an honor’ for Chandra Wilson

Oh starred as Cristina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy for 10 seasons. Throughout her time on the show, viewers watched as her friendship with Meredith blossomed, and the two became “twisted sisters.” Cristina also found love with Dr. Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington) and later Dr. Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd). As an actor, Oh won her first Golden Globe for Cristina in 2006, per Buzzfeed.

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Before season 10 premiered, the actor announced her departure from Grey’s. Many of the episodes from that season focused on Cristina as she struggled to stay in Seattle. Wilson recalled directing Oh for a season 10 episode, “Sliding Doors,” in which Cristina sees two different paths her life might have taken, per Variety.

“Sandra wanted me to take care of her for that,” the Miranda Bailey actor said. “She looked at it as her last episode, but we gave her more to finish the season. So that was an honor for me to be in that position.”  

Does Chandra Wilson want Sandra Oh back on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’? 

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Since Oh’s departure from Grey’s Anatomy, fans have searched for clues that she might return as Cristina Yang. In Feb. 2020, she and Rhimes made viewers beg for a reunion when they snapped a photo together at an Oscars party. Although she speaks fondly about her time on Grey’s, Oh doesn’t plan on putting her scrubs back on anytime soon. She told Entertainment Tonight that the actor chooses to focus on Killing Eve and other future opportunities. 

“I’m extremely grateful that you’re asking me that question because that means that people are still invested and interested in Cristina Yang, who is a character I left six years ago. I’m really grateful for it,” she said. “There are so many new projects, and I’m a different person. So I’d have to say no.”

While Oh most likely won’t return to Grey’s, Wilson remains with the show. The medical drama returns to ABC for its midseason premiere on March 11, 2021.