Sarah Drew on the Secret of the Grey's Anatomy Set, Glee and the Status of Mad Men's Sal Romano
Even if you don't know Sarah Drew, you know Sarah Drew. With appearances on Mad Men, Castle, Private Practice, Glee and many other top series over the course of the last few years, it's no wonder Drew describes herself as a "Guest Star Queen." That's about to change though: With her regular role on Grey's Anatomy -- itself which started as a guest appearance -- Drew is ready to take the next step in her career.
The soon-to-be 30-year-old rang up Movieline to discuss what the upcoming season of Grey's could mean for her future, Glee and whether or not we'll see the erstwhile Mrs. Salvatore Romano on Mad Men this season.
Let's go back to last season's Grey's Anatomy finale. Everyone knew that there was going to be a massacre and some of the Mercy-West transplants wouldn't make. Were you worried you'd be one of them?
Well, I was pretty sure I was going to survive. There were four of us who came on together -- Nora Zehetner, Robert Baker, Jesse Williams and myself -- but I just came on just to do two episodes. [Grey's Anatomy creator] Shonda Rhimes wrote the role for me because I had worked with her a few times before. So, I came on knowing my character was going to be fired after two episodes. I did my two episodes and went on my way, did a couple of episodes of other things and then I get a call the morning after the firing episode airs: "They're talking about a contract and want to check your availability. It's a possible series regular pick-up." I was like, "What?!" (Laughs) It was completely out of the blue that they were considering anything past two episodes for my character.
We were all told at the end of February whether or not we were going to get picked up. Nora and Robert found out that their characters were going to get shot; Jesse and I found out that ours were not. They didn't let us know officially about a pick-up, however, until the beginning of June. So it was definitely a year of sweating and not really knowing where I stood with the show. But you can allow that stuff to make you crazy and I just decided I wouldn't let it make me crazy. And when I got the call for pick-up, I just lost it.
Was it weird for you to go back to the show after the long break between your initial two episodes?
What's funny is that it was almost weirder for me to do the first two episodes. I knew I was only there for two episodes -- but I came on as part of a gang and the gang was going to stick around for a while. When I came back, though, it was wonderful. Apparently, a bunch of the actors and writers were rallying for me to come back after my firing episode aired. That made me feel so good and so welcome. I kinda came back to a bunch of people with open arms going, "We're so glad you're back!" It was a really warm, welcoming return to the show.
That's not what people expect to hear about the Grey's Anatomy cast, you know. Did you expect things to go so smoothly when you initially signed on?
There are tons of rumors about the cast and everything. So I went in with some trepidation: This might not be the most fun, but it definitely will be an incredible career change to be on this amazing show. But it was so amazing because I was completely and pleasantly surprised. Everyone there is like family. They all love each other, they all know each other for years and there's no animosity on that set toward anyone. It does not exist, truly. I didn't experience any of the negativity I had heard about. It was totally the polar opposite from what I expected.
Now last season, April had a lot of scenes with Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey). Have you gotten more integrated with the rest of the cast?
Oh absolutely. We're shooting episode number five right now and every single episode I've been with a whole different group of people. They really want Jesse and I to be established as part of the tribe, as Shonda put it. That said, I have a lot with Ellen Pompeo this season; you'll really see the friendship between Meredith and April start to blossom. I think what happened in the finale is a catalyst for her taking me under her wing. You'll see a lot more between the two of us - she defends me when people pick on me. Conversely, I have a lot less with Patrick. But my character's focus is neurological surgery, so we'll definitely see her with Patrick, just not in the puppy-love-ridiculous kind of way.
Many Grey's Anatomy fans were quite unhappy with April and her crush on McDreamy. Are you relieved that's over?
I'm totally relieved. You know what was so hilarious to me? April doesn't even stand a chance with McDreamy! It was so ridiculous that any fan thought she could be a threat. Look at her! He doesn't even notice her. He's totally, massively in love with his wife. I think the fans can rest assured that little April Kepner is not going to steal Derek Shepherd. People got so mad because their favorite relationship was being threatened and I just wanted to say, "Guys, look who April is! She's not going to be a problem."
Were you a fan of Grey's before signing on?
Oh yes, oh yes. Die hard. My husband and I were like die hard fans, watching every single week; totally obsessed. So when I got the call to even do two episodes, I was like, "OHHHHHH!" It was kinda funny showing up on set. It really took me all of last season to stop calling Ellen, Meredith. I still called her Meredith awkwardly and inappropriately at the wrong time.
You were method, I guess.
Oh, totally. I was just pulling a Daniel Day-Lewis. I was really in it. (Laughs)
Do you find yourself getting noticed a lot more because of Grey's?
In the industry, I got a lot of attention for Mad Men, because everyone in the industry watches it. But in terms of the public, I'm already getting a lot more recognition from being on Grey's. It's a different kind of attention, but it's exactly the kind of attention I need at this point in my career to move into the next level. I've gotten so close to so many big films and then all the artistic people want me for it, but the money people don't, because they don't know who I am; I'm not on a huge show with 20 million people watching. I'm hoping this will be a really good jumping off place for me, but I also hope to be on it for many years to come.
Does that lack of recognition frustrate you?
It's really frustrating. At this point, I've been doing this for 9 years and I've had so many situations like that happen to me that I just don't really allow myself to invest in it. I mean I invest in that I give my 110% in the audition, but then I learned to hold lightly, because it's so totally out of my control. So often it has nothing to do with the job I'm doing -- I could blow everyone out of the water and not get it because the financiers want a bigger name. I've definitely had my fair share at shaking my fists at the gods of Hollywood, but I'm learning that I cannot think that way or I will go crazy.
Is there one near miss in particular that really burns you?
You know, I have one - but if I say it...I don't think I should say it because the movie will come out and then the person who actually got the role is going to look bad. I just feel like if someone said that about me -- that my movie came out and then I read somewhere that that person was supposed to get it, but they picked the person who was the worse actress -- I'd feel pretty crappy about myself.
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