‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Sandra Oh Says Gaining Fame From the Shondaland Series Was ‘Traumatic’

Grey’s Anatomy fans fell in love with Sandra Oh’s portrayal of Cristina Yang the moment she appeared in the pilot episode. The actor had been involved in a number of projects prior to Shondaland. Then the hit medical drama put her on the map. But how did Oh feel about the sudden thrust to fame that came with Grey’s Anatomy? In a recent interview, the Killing Eve star revealed the experience was anything but extraordinary.

Sandra Oh describes how she dealt with fame from ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

Sandra Oh as Cristina Yang on 'Grey's Anatomy' Season 9
Sandra Oh as Cristina Yang on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ | Ron Tom/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

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On July 10, The Hollywood Reporter dropped its Awards Chatter podcast with Oh to reflect on her career, including her 10-year run on Grey’s Anatomy. Then midway through the conversation, Oh answered how her day-to-day life changed after the ABC series made its debut and she became recognizable to the public. 

“It was traumatic,” Oh said. “Everything was different then. Social media was not what it is. People didn’t have phones the way they do now. But the paparazzi — the people looking to fill trash magazines — were definitely around.”

She continued, “I don’t know if the hunger and the need for fame was the same as it is now. And that’s never been a focus for me. So what people don’t understand — when people really want to be famous — it is exceptionally destabilizing when you lose anonymity. And in ways you cannot predict because it’s very specific to each person.”

Oh also shared she went through therapy to help her adjust to her new life. “For me, I found it very difficult and I had to do constant therapy to be able to manage the energy overload of it,” Oh said. “So it was very stressful. It comes with a lot of other things as well. But your question regarding what was the change like, I found it very challenging.”

Sandra Oh does not regret playing Cristina Yang on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

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Despite Oh’s experience with sudden fame, the actor does not regret her time on Grey’s Anatomy as a whole. 

“There are times where I thought the workload and the stress load was really high,” Oh told The Hollywood Reporter. “But I don’t regret anything because I made it through. I’m happy that I made it through. It was tough. But I don’t regret any of it.”

Meanwhile, Oh is still grateful for the opportunity to play Cristina on Grey’s Anatomy over a decade, noting it’s a rare find in television.

“It’s not just like it happens in a scene. It’s believable because people have been watching it for over 10 years,” Oh said. “So you believe how the character has changed. I’m eternally grateful for it because it’s just so rare to do.” 

Will Sandra Oh ever return to ‘Grey’s Anatomy’?

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While Oh is appreciative of her journey on Grey’s Anatomy, it’s unlikely we’ll see the actor back on the Shondaland drama anytime soon. When speaking with The Hollywood Reporter in 2014, Oh hinted she would be willing to come back for the Grey’s Anatomy series finale if it felt right.

“There are certain things that Shonda and I talk about once and then we leave it because we want things to happen without pressure,” Oh said at the time. “I told her, ‘If you guys want to finish it out however you want to finish it out, I’d be more than happy to come back. And if it doesn’t fit in that way, I totally understand. I just want you to know that I’m available.’”

She added, “Who knows! I might be doing something fabulous and it might not work out.”

Now, Oh has found a new project — BBC America’s Killing Eve. Then when speaking with Extra in April 2019, the actor shared she wouldn’t return to Grey’s Anatomy for a cameo. 

“Creatively, you have moved on,” Oh said. “Killing Eve is my home now. This is where I am. I am Eve. That’s where I plan to stay as long as the show will have me. And that’s really where I want to be.”

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