There's good news and bad news for fans of Owen Hunt -- Kevin McKidd, who plays the bravura trauma surgeon, directs tonight's episode, which fulfills a lifelong dream. The bad news is that to reach this goal, Dr. Hunt will be almost entirely absent from the hour since he's got a wonky tooth. Yes, that's right, he'll be at the dentist (where he, I like to imagine, will be having Britney Spears hallucinations as well).
But to help us all get that much needed weekly fix of Owen/Kevin, I called up the actor to find out if the reality of directing lived up to the fantasy, what the future holds for Mr & Mrs. Hunt and what the upcoming "Grey's" musical episode will be right. Yes, you read that right -- musical episode.
PopWrap: How did the chance to direct come about?
Kevin McKidd: Over the years, I’ve been very lucky to work with Danny Boyle, Ridley Scott, Mike Leigh and a lot of great, inspiring directors. But I’ve never had the time as an actor to explore directing, but “Grey’s” is a big ensemble so you get more time off than normal. About a year ago I approached [creator] Shonda Rhimes about wanting to start shadowing directors and they said absolutely. At the start of season seven Shonda suggested I direct some webisodes as a way to get my feet wet and, I think, so they could see if I could do it [laughs]. And I guess I passed because soon after that, I was asked to direct.
PW: Typically when an actor directs an episode of their show, their character disappears for that hour -- is that the case here?
Kevin: It is I’m afraid. Shonda sent Owen Hunt to the dentist. I have a cute scene with Dr. Webber, but that’s about it.
PW: Was it harder than you thought?
Kevin: Much. I’ve always had respect for directors but I have an entirely new respect for then now. You’re the first one in, the last one out every day and have to stand by your decisions. You have to have balls to direct. You’re at the steering wheel of an enormous ship that you have to bring in on time and on budget while still getting performances and telling the story properly. There's a lot of pressure, most of it self imposed, because I didn’t want to mess up in front of my peers.
PW: Your co-star Chandra Wilson is the only other actor to direct an episode, did she give you any advice?
Kevin: She’s been fantastic. When she saw I was on the slate she sat me down for a talk. Said that nothing prepares you for it – it’s like having a child. You can read all the What To Expect When You’re Expecting books but nothing prepares you for the first day when you’re holding a baby. It’s the same with directing, nothing prepares you to say “action” that first time. It’s terrifying.
PW: It's a big year for you branching out -- first directing, then singing in the upcoming musical episode.
Kevin: It’s going to raise some eyebrows. It’s not going to be anything like what anyone expects. The fun of it will be surprising people with just how we do it, so I can't tell you anything more. You’ll just have to watch.
PW: What have you made of Owen's journey this season?
Kevin: I think it’s been really good – he was introduced in a big way in season five. The PTSD is kind of behind him now, I mean, it never really goes away. You just manage it, so I’m sure we’ll come back to it in some ways. But it’s interesting to see Owen becoming more settled and to see him and Cristina really move into a, well, I don’t want to say “less volatile” phase of their marriage because they’re always quite volatile and they’re about to head into a pretty fundamentally volatile phase of being married.
PW: How so?
Kevin: Now that Cristina is well again they’re going to take a step back and ask, “did we rush into this? Do we know everything about each other? Are we in agreement about the basics of what a marriage is?” They’re heading into a hot part of the relationship.
PW: Do you see Owen and Christina are soulmates?
Kevin: Whether they’re together or apart, they will always be deeply connected. I do believe they’re soulmates, but as we’ve seen with Meredith and Cristina in the past, being someone’s soulmate doesn’t mean that you’re going to always be together. In a way, having that closeness means that when problems happen, they’re going to cut much, much deeper. Whether they’re break up, I don’t know, but I can tell you there are volatile times ahead.
"Grey's Anatomy" airs Thursdays at 9pm on ABC