Who is Sandra Oh’s Ex-Husband?

While award-winning actress Sandra Oh is literally killing it on her BBC America series, most remember the star from her iconic role as Dr. Cristina Yang on ABC’s hit drama Grey’s Anatomy. Though Oh is one of today’s most high-profile celebrities, the actress tends to keep her private life under wraps.

With Oh being so discreet on matters of romance, fans may not be aware that she was once married to a renowned film director.

"Killing Eve's" Sandra Oh  attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party
“Killing Eve’s” Sandra Oh | Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

Don’t call her a celeb

The former Grey’s Anatomy star has a history of keeping her private life very private. In a 2012 interview, Oh revealed that she views herself as an actress rather than a celebrity.

“I stepped out of doing press because it’s too big a price for me, because I just think that if you want to be an actor and if you want to be an artist, to be known in that entire world, it throws you off your game,” Oh explained in the interview, according to InStyle. “It throws you off what I think is really important.”

Oh commented that many in her field share her perspective on their craft as opposed to fame. “I do not consider myself a celebrity,” she said. “I know many actors who don’t consider themselves celebrities and I want to publicly make that statement and that differentiation. There’s a big difference.”

Sandra cast in ‘Sideways’

In a 2004 New York Times interview, Oh revealed that she rejected the attention of famed director Alexander Payne for eight months before finally agreeing to go on a date with him.

“I want it in the [expletive] record that Alexander Payne chased Sandra Oh for eight months and she would not go out with him because she was ‘busy,'” Oh said with a laugh. “And by the way, the first thing you notice about Alexander Payne is that he is very handsome.”

Payne has a long list of esteemed credits to his name. He made his directorial debut with the 1996 film Citizen Ruth, received Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay for 1998’s Election and 2011’s The Descendants, and garnered his first Golden Globe nomination for writing 2002’s About Schmidt, as reported by Heavy.

Alexander Payne and Sandra Oh at awards ceremony
Sandra Oh and Alexander Payne | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

The two married in 2003. The couple worked together when Payne cast her in the critically acclaimed 2004 film Sideways as a spunky single mom.

”I’m finished with the time in my life where I play someone’s snappy assistant,” Oh said in 2005, according to Entertainment Weekly. ”In Sideways, I have maybe 15, 20 lines. But because of the way the film is written, you never see anyone as a sidekick or a girlfriend.”

Apparently, Payne knew Oh was perfect for the part of the fearless Stephanie who embarks on a relationship with the engaged Jack, played by Thomas Haden Church. “He [Payne] just thought the part of Stephanie was right for me, and it’s not necessarily the kind of part people would think of me for,” Oh told the New York Times.

Split after ‘Sideways’

According to People, the couple went their separate ways in March 2005. “They have been together for five years and were married in [January] 2003. The couple will remain friends,” a spokesperson confirmed to the outlet. The two had no children from the marriage.

Both Oh and Payne have not discussed any details of their divorce, though he seemed to reflect on his own life when discussing some of the characters from his films.

“Both Schmidt and The Descendants have a protagonist who’s reached a point in life, who says ‘I’ve done my job, I’ve been a good provider’ and doesn’t realize how distant he’s been from others and from himself,” he told SF Weekly in 2011, also making a reference to the part jealousy played in the lives of his characters. “It seems pretty common, pretty dramatic. Maybe I felt some jealousy early in life, and that’s made a mark. Maybe.”

A few years after their split, Oh commented that she avoided the tabloid headlines on her marriage to Payne. “I don’t listen to this stuff. I don’t see it,” she told Marie Claire in 2007. “I tell my people I don’t want to know about it, because while rationally you might know it’s ridiculous, it can hurt your feelings. It can knock me off from being my authentic self.”

Payne went on to marry Maria Kontos in 2015, and the couple now has a daughter.