Why Sandra Oh Wanted to go from ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ to ‘Scandal’

Grey’s Anatomy fans are holding out hope that Sandra Oh, who portrayed Dr. Cristina Yang from 2005 to 2014, will reprise her role on the medical drama. Now killing it in her role on BBC America’s psychological thriller Killing Evethe former Grey’s star is making no promises of returning to the halls of Grey Sloan Memorial.

Oh recently revealed that while on the hit ABC show, she came across another character from Grey’s creator Shonda Rhimes that greatly piqued her interest.

Sandra Oh of 'Grey's Anatomy'
Sandra Oh of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ | Scott Garfield/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

From Christina Yang to Eve Polastri

Receiving critical acclaim including a Golden Globe for her role as British intelligence investigator Eve Polastri on the BBC America series, Oh is thriving in the thriller genre.

Killing Eve was the right series at the right time for me. I really love the show, I like the style of it, I like the thriller aspect,” Oh told The Sydney Morning Herald in April. “I also like being able to play a character who is able to express not only a rainbow of emotions, but also a lot of depth.”

Assigned to capture psychopathic assassin Villanelle (played by Jodie Comer), Eve breaks out of the boredom of her life through the dangerous cat-and-mouse hunt. Oh feels that Eve’s place in life resonates with viewers.

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“I think people can identify with how this woman finds a renewed spark in life. She’s a woman in the middle of life, who is stagnating in some way in her work, where she does a decent job,” the Grey’s alum explained. “She’s not really curious, she’s not really paying attention and she’s not a really vital or dynamic person. But we see the spark of life that emerges from her.”

Sandra Oh describes what drew her to the ‘Killing Eve’ character

Premiering in April 2018, Killing Eve soon became Must See TV. Oh was attracted to the many aspects of the character, where some facets stood out more than others.

“There are other elements of the series that I really love, which are the international locations, the overall style of it, or genre of it,” Oh shared. “But the fact that you have a middle-aged lady who is very determined but doesn’t know exactly what she is doing – that really fascinated me.”

Always striving to portray characters of depth, Oh was intrigued by Eve’s multi-layered persona.

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“I like Eve’s vulnerability and I spent a lot of this show being scared. And I thought that was also very interesting,” the Golden Globe winner explained. “It’s not so much that I consciously seek out characters who are determined or confident. I’m interested in what takes them to where they want to go. I will give my all to get that character to that place.”

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ star has her eye on ‘Scandal’ role

In an interview for the Variety series “Actors on Actors,” Oh recently spoke to actress Kerry Washington on coming across the script for the very first showing of Scandal, where Washington played main character Olivia Pope. With the political drama centered around Olivia, a Washington, D.C. “fixer,” Oh was tempted to trade in her scrubs from Grey Sloan Memorial for an attorney’s suit.

“I was on Grey’s. We were on stage five,” Oh recalled to Washington of seeing the initial Scandal script. “Someone snuck it to me, I don’t know who it was, but I got my hands on that pilot and I read it and I was just like, ‘How could I play Olivia Pope?’”

Oh found the character so compelling that she asked Grey’s creator Rhimes if she could pull double duty on both shows. “I remember going to Shonda, and it’s like, ‘How could I do this? What is this script? Could I do this too?'” Oh recounted.

Apparently, Rhimes wasn’t on board with the idea. “She goes, ‘No, you’ve got to play Cristina Yang!’” Oh shared. “But I also feel like it’s so wonderful and rare when you get in your hands something that you know is electric, that you can feel.”

Despite Rhimes’ rejecting Oh’s request, the Killing Eve star recognized that Washington was meant to play Olivia. “I’m so glad it was you,” Oh told the Scandal star.