‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Why Sara Ramirez Says the Writers Treated the Characters Like ‘Pawns on the Chess Board’

Sara Ramirez landed a starring role in Grey’s Anatomy in 2006. As Callie Torres, she worked alongside many members of the show’s cast. Before the actor left the series in 2016, she claimed that the writers manipulated several storylines whether the cast liked the changes or not. 

Sara Ramirez with 'Grey's Anatomy' actors Katherine Heigl, Kate Walsh and Chandra Wilson smiling at an awards show.
(L-R): Katherine Heigl, Kate Walsh, Chandra Wilson and Sara Ramirez | Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images

Sara Ramirez as Callie Torres on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ 

Before Grey’s, Ramirez worked on several stage productions. According to BroadwayWorld, she earned her first Broadway role in Paul Simon’s The Capeman. Once the show ended, Ramirez moved on to The Gershwins’ Fascinating Rhythm. After spending a few years in theatre, she joined Monty Python’s Spamalot as the Lady of the Lake. Ramirez won a Tony Award for her part in the musical in 2005. 

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In addition to earning her first Tony, Spamalot allowed Ramirez to venture into television. The actor was offered a spot on a primetime ABC show of her choice once the musical wrapped. Although she had several options, Ramirez chose to play Dr. Callie Torres on Grey’s Anatomy. During season 2, Callie became George’s (T.R. Knight) love interest. Ramirez shared what drew her to Callie in a 2007 interview with the Los Angeles Daily News.

“Like all the other characters on the show, I think Callie has her flaws, her issues, her hang-ups,” Ramirez said. “We don’t know all the ins-and-outs of why she truly was with George. I think there was a pure love there, but I’m sure Callie has other issues behind clinging onto something that just isn’t right.” 

Although George and Callie divorced in season 4, Ramirez stayed with the show for a decade. Her character’s romance with Dr. Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) became a huge draw to viewers. On the show, “Calzona” got married, had their daughter, Sofia, and divorced in season 12. 

The real reason Sara Ramirez said ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ treated the cast like ‘pawns’ 

In season 9 of Grey’s, Callie and Arizona faced some difficult times. After a horrific plane crash took Arizona’s leg, the couple constantly argued and headed for divorce. While working on their issues, Arizona started cheating on Callie with Dr. Lauren Boswell (Hilarie Burton). 

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Although Arizona broke off the affair, the couple separated in season 10. The split caused actors Ramirez and Capshaw to film with other scene partners. In an interview with Grey’s Anatomy’s blog, Ramirez shared that she didn’t mind the switch up. After several seasons on Grey’s, the actor said the writers enjoyed changing the relationships between the Grey Sloan Memorial doctors as much as possible. 

“We all love working with each other, and it’s always fun to do something different,” Ramirez explained. “We’re sort of like pawns on the chessboard where you just kind of get moved around. It’s great to work with everybody! I’ve been switching in that I’ve been able to work with a lot of folks on the show. I haven’t really gotten to work much with Jesse [Williams] this season, and I haven’t gotten a ton to do with the interns. Although, I have gotten to work with Camilla [Luddington], who I love working with. She’s awesome! There are still a few people I haven’t worked with a whole lot. I love getting a chance to work with a lot of different people. It’s fun, and it keeps things interesting. It’s just kind of the nature of the beast.”