Perhaps no one back at the hospital has more to do than Chief of Surgery Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd). When we last saw Hunt, he was hearing the ill-fated messages that something had gone wrong as there was no word of his staff in Idaho. The Season 9 premiere of Grey’s picks up a few months after the crash, and McKidd says he feels like it’s going to be an interesting challenge for his character to take on.
“He’s got a lot of balls to juggle, and he’s got a lot of people that are pretty traumatized by what happened, so he’s finding that challenging. I think he steps up to the challenge in quite an interesting way and really does help, not in a shoulder-to-cry-on way because that’s never been Owen’s style,” McKidd, 39, tells Celebuzz. “He kind of knows what people need in situations like this to hold on to, to get by, to get through the pain. Owen does help in a major way, I think, to make people move on. It’s about moving on and accepting. Owen’s pretty instrumental in helping people do that.”
Read what McKidd says about how Owen will handle the effects of the plane crash, what impact, the departing doctors have on Seattle Grace, and the future of Owen and Cristina (Sandra Oh).
Celebuzz: Given Owen’s past with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), is Owen a source of strength for those doctors who have just experienced this horrifically tragic event?
Kevin McKidd: I think he definitely can help and is helping in that way. Even though it’s stressful too for him, he wants people back — he didn’t have to go through this event but in a major way he can empathize. All his Iraq friends and colleagues were killed in one IED bombing in a vehicle that he was being transported in. That in some ways is a very similar event, in a strange way, so he can very much empathize.
CB: In Episode 2, we flashback to the immediate reaction to the crash. What do we see happening with Owen at this point? What was it like to play those types of scenes?
KM: It’s pretty traumatic stuff. It’s a really intense episode, Episode 2. So is Episode 1, but seeing those hours and minutes and days directly after the crash, how Owen manages to corral his staff back to Seattle is really interesting and emotional and quite dark.
There’s a lot of intensity and a lot of deep emotion going on. People have gone through a lot. They’re like a family, these doctors, so you see Owen become very protective. Bailey [Chandra Wilson] and Richard [James Pickens, Jr.] as well as Owen are trying to gather up their staff and get them home. It’s an emotional episode in that sense.
CB: At the end of last season, Cristina was planning to leave Seattle Grace, as was Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek (Patrick Dempsey). How does this devastating event change their plans?
KM:I think the crash definitely changes everything. Plans get shifted. Plans get changed. Events like this can’t go without having a ripple effect so it definitely changes things. The plans that were made in the finale last year change. Some change into something that we wouldn’t expect. It’s not like things carry on the way they were before. Things do change, quite a lot.
CB: The question on every Grey’s fan’s mind is: What will happen with Owen and Cristina? With this experience showing both of them just how short life can really be, will the crash bring them closer together?
KM: I hope it will, eventually. In the first couple of episodes you see Owen trying to reach Cristina, but it’s hard. There’s still a lot of distance between them. There’s a lot of hurt and pain – shared pain of different things that have happened and baggage that they have. He is still trying to reach her, but how much she receives it is another question. I think they’ll get there, but it’s hard for them. They’ve always been a very challenged couple. That seems to be where they thrive, at their most challenged. I still have a belief they’re going to find their way back to each other, but it doesn’t get wrapped up in a couple of episodes, let’s put it that way.
CB: Some of the fans on Twitter have said they miss you being a major Army badass. Will we see any of that kind of Owen this year?
KM: I don’t know if we’re going to see that this year. You see him being very chiefly. He’s got that heroic element to him, Owen. You definitely see that as the season goes on. A few events unfold that Owen has to really be the hero. You’ll see a little bit of those heroic-type traits he has come out a little more.
CB: How does the loss of Lexie (Chyler Leigh) and the impending departure of Mark (Eric Dane) affect the other doctors and your duties as Chief?
KM: Those holes in the staff have to be filled, obviously, so new people start coming in. They do the mourn loss of these people. It’s like a family, these doctors. You do feel it for quite some time, the absence of those characters. I think you feel that anyway on the set because we’re all like a family down there. When people go it becomes a very emotional thing, and that plays itself out on screen, which is, hopefully, very satisfying for the fans. People are just trying to pick up their lives and pick up the pieces and make sense of it all, as anybody would in a situation like this. In a way, it’s a quite a dark opening to the season, but it gets positive again once the initial aftermath [passes]. When things like this happen, it does make you realize life is short, life is very transient. People start to really live in the show, too. People sort of go, “We’ve only got this one shot at this. We’ve got to make our lives happy.” All these realizations come to pass.
The ninth season of Grey’s Anatomy premieres Thursday at 9 PM on ABC.
For even more Owen opinions, McKidd will be live tweeting the premiere (@TheRealKMcKidd) during the Pacific Coast Broadcast at 9 PM PST/ 12 AM EST.
Do you think there’s hope for Cristina and Owen? Sound off in the comments below!