‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Sandra Oh on Why Playing Cristina Yang Was a ‘Gift’

Sandra Oh has become a household name with projects like Killing Eve and The Chair, but many fans discovered her through Grey’s Anatomy. Oh played Cristina Yang on ABC’s medical drama, rising through the ranks at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital alongside Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith. She’s moved on to other roles since then, but the actor treasures her time working on Grey’s Anatomy.

Sandra Oh played Cristina Yang on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ for 10 seasons

'Grey's Anatomy' star Sandra Oh wearing a white dress. Her hair is curled and she's smiling. The background behind her is blurred.
‘Grey’s Anatomy’ star Sandra Oh | Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images

Oh’s exit from Grey’s Anatomy came after 10 seasons on the show, a long time for any star to portray a single character. In fact, the reason Oh chose to depart after all that time was because she’d seen her character through everything she’d hoped to. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in 2013, Oh explained her thoughts about leaving:

“Creatively, I really feel like I gave it my all, and I feel really ready to let go. It’s such an interesting thing to play a character for so long and actually get the sense that she wants to be let go of as well. [Cristina] wants to be let go, and I am ready to let her go.”

Of course, after spending such a long time in Cristina’s shoes, saying goodbye wasn’t easy. Oh needed to mentally and emotionally brace herself for her character’s ending. She even used therapy to cope with it.

“I’ve gone through a lot of therapy over this,” Oh told THR. “I started thinking about it because I had to prepare myself.”

Why Sandra Oh thinks her time on the ABC drama was a ‘gift’

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Following Oh’s departure from Grey’s Anatomy, the actor has been vocal about the fact that she has no intention of returning to the medical drama. Just last year, she was asked about reprising the role during a discussion with Entertainment Tonight Canada. She explained, “There are so many new projects, and I’m a different person. So I’d have to say no.”

That might prompt viewers to think that Oh is completely over the ABC show, but she actually still holds a deep appreciation for her time as Cristina Yang. Chatting with ET Online about her latest project — Netflix’s The Chair — Oh shared why she views her time on Grey’s Anatomy as “a gift and a privilege.” Here’s what she had to say:

Going into season 18, it’s nearing the same time that I’ve been off of the show. So, it really speaks so highly to how the show has really found a place in people’s hearts and that I’m so happy to have been a part of that. As an artist, all I can offer is to come along to the things that I’m doing now and hopefully people will like it.”

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 18 premieres this September

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Although Oh is no longer part of the Grey’s Anatomy gang, the doctors at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital have continued treating patients. The show wrapped its seventeenth season earlier this year, and its next outing arrives this fall.

Grey’s Anatomy Season 18 could very well be the last, though nothing’s been confirmed just yet. With so much interest in the series, creator Shonda Rhimes may hold onto it for a few more years. She’s said that once Pompeo decides she’s finished with Meredith, however, it’ll likely be time to pack things up.

In the meantime, fans can look forward to more drama on the horizon. Grey’s Anatomy Season 18 premieres on ABC on Sept. 30, 2021.