Friday, March 19, 2010

When Sandra Oh Met Oprah

This is an oldie, but we have never posted it before. In the December 2006 issue of O Magazine, Oprah paid a visit to the set of Grey's Anatomy where she interviewed the show's creator, Shonda Rhimes. Sandra Oh popped in for a few minutes during the interview and talked briefly with Oprah. Here is an excerpt from that interview:

"Oprah, Sandra. Sandra, Oprah."

Oprah: Where did you get the idea for Grey's Anatomy?

Shonda: I wrote it on a whim....

[Sandra Oh enters the room]

Oprah: Hello, Miss Oh.

Sandra: I have ten minutes before I start taping, so I thought I'd drop in. We're about to start filming in the OR.

Oprah: Do you watch yourself on Thursday nights?

Sandra: I catch 20 minutes here or there, but I find it hard to watch. I want the show to be everything we shoot. After an episode is edited, there are whole chunks you guys won't get to see. I'm like, "Oooh, that was such a good scene." But I like watching the other actors.

Oprah: I loved seeing Diahann Carroll on the show [Carroll made a guest appearance as the mother of Preston Burke, a cardiothoracic surgeon played by Isaiah Washington].

Shonda: She was unbelievably fantastic. I never thought we'd get Diahann, so when she said yes, I couldn't believe it. She called up and said [imitating Carroll's voice]: "Now, do you want Diahann Carroll—or do you want something else?" I was like, "I want Diahann Carroll." For the first time, viewers got to see that Preston was a mama's boy.

Oprah: That was a big surprise.

Shonda: That's how my brothers are. They're such powerful men, but the second our mother shows up...

Oprah: Sandra, how on earth did you shoot that scene when you had the nervous breakdown?

Shonda: Sandra came to me and said, "I think I can pull off a scene in which I can't stop crying." I wasn't sure how we'd work that in, but I started thinking, "This is the perfect way to handle the fact that Cristina Yang never deals with her feelings." There had to be a point where we see someone who's deeply in control just come apart. We thought that could be funny.

Oprah: It was hysterical.

Sandra: They're calling for me on the set.

Oprah: Pleasure to meet you.

[Sandra leaves]

Shonda: She's honestly one of the smartest women I know.

Oprah: I can tell she's intelligent. All the show's actors and actresses seem really smart.

And a bit from Shonda Rhimes about how she created Cristina Yang:

Oprah: How did each character evolve in your mind?

That's a tough one. I wanted to create a world in which you felt as if you were watching very real women. Most of the women I saw on TV didn't seem like people I actually knew. They felt like ideas of what women are. They never got to be nasty or competitive or hungry or angry. They were often just the loving wife or the nice friend. But who gets to be the bitch? Who gets to be the three-dimensional woman?

Oprah: Which character did you start with?

Shonda: I began with Meredith. Cristina was second, simply because she's the kind of woman I know really well, and I like her. There's something interesting about a person who is that driven, a little bit emotionally disconnected but still a caring, sweet, and smart individual you could be friends with.

Source: December 2006, The O Magazine .
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