Kevin McKidd has played former army trauma surgeon Owen Hunt on “Grey’s Anatomy” for the past three years. Owen has progressed from a man haunted by what he witnessed on the battlefield to a stable doctor who has been a rock for the rest of the staff of Seattle Grace in the aftermath of the shooting shooting spree that ended last season. Now McKidd has moved behind the camera, directing Thursday night’s episode Don’t Deceive Me (Please Don’t Go). McKidd revealed why he took on the challenge of directing, dishes on the drama in MerDer and Callie/Arizona’s relationships, and dropped a feel tantalizing hints about the upcoming musical episode.
This is the first episode that you’ve directed. I understand it involves the Alzheimer’s treatment trials.
The episode takes place on Derek’s first day of the [Alzheimer’s treatment] trials. It’s a really emotional episode. Derek realizes that dealing with Alzheimer’s isn’t just a clinical trial. You have to deal holistically with the wife, the husband, the spouse, and the fallout that’s happening. One of my grandparents had Alzheimer’s and the other had female dementia so I know how tough it is to deal with. There’s also a lot of fun in the episode. Bailey has a great storyline with the Chief. They’re at odds with each other about how she’s becoming very active in the Twitter world, the world of tweeting. He just does not understand what the hell Twitter is and he learns very quickly. It’s very funny. Callie and Mark and Arizona, their situation gets more complicated and they really have to start digging into this and see how they’re going to move forward in the light of this pregnancy. So that’s really emotional and also funny. Mark has to deal with Lexie on some level about it. We also have Rachael Taylor as a new cast member who’s Callie’s O.B. doctor who Callie drives crazy by being a terrible hypochondriac.
What intrigued you about directing? It’s like doing ten jobs at once.
It’s way more stressful than acting. It’s a lot more work. Back when I did “Trainspotting,” when I was 21, I worked with Danny Boyle, who has now won the Oscar. I worked with Ridley Scott on “Kingdom of Heaven.” I worked with Mike Leigh. So I’ve gotten to work with really great directors. Seeing them work and seeing them get their vision on screen influenced me. I was extremely inspired by watching those people. I said I think I can actually do this. I never had the chance to pursue it until I got into Grey’s. The joy of it is there’s a large cast and we share the workload. It’s not like on “Journeyman” or in “Rome” where I was in every scene. So I started to shadow directors last year and everyone was very supportive. Then they offered me webisodes this season to direct which was kind of my audition. Obviously, I didn’t suck at it because they let me do this episode, which I still can’t quite believe happened. I’m still pinching myself.
Preview Thursday’s Episode Below:
Which of your co-stars was the biggest challenge to direct?
Everybody was great with me. Everybody was really supportive and kind of happy to have me directing which I was shocked at. It was a big deal for me to take this on — it’s scary and stressful and all those things. You’re kind of captain of the ship so I think the biggest challenge for me was kind of communicating, especially to the crew. I’m used to talking to the actors but I’m not used to communicating with the camera crew what I’m asking for.
You mentioned that Derek chooses to work with Alex on the trials. How does Meredith feel about her husband choosing someone other than her?
She’s not happy about it, I’ve got to tell you. It becomes a real bump in the road for those guys. I think that dynamic between Meredith and Derek plays out really interestingly over the course of the episode because yeah, she’s upset about it. Derek can’t get past this idea. He keeps seeing Meredith when he looks at [patients] and he can’t focus properly. But Alex sheds a lot of light on what he feels Derek needs to do. Alex finds the job very difficult to deal with emotionally. So it plays out in a really interesting way between Derek and Meredith about this trial.
How does Owen feel about his old friend Teddy, who used to be in love with him, marrying a stranger so he can get health insurance?
I think Owen’s very flawed as a man, as most men are. He’s not hugely judgmental about people. That’s one of the things I’ve always liked about Owen. He’s willing to make mistakes and will admit when he made a mistake. He’s willing to let other people make mistakes. If she feels that this is something he needs to go through, then he’s going to support her. Even if he has reservations about that, he doesn’t think it’s the best thing to do, he’s going to support her anyway because she’s still his friend.
Christina married Owen while she was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Now that she’s back to her old self, what challenges is their relationship going to face?
Owen was very flaky in season six. He didn’t know what he wanted. But now, this whole season he’s all about Christina. They rushed into this marriage for many good reasons because they love each other, but there’s fundamental things about each other that they still don’t know. A lot of that is going to come to light in the second half of the season. It’s going to be a rocky road for a while. But I think Owen and Christina weirdly operate at their best when they’ve got some passionate angst going on about something. I think it’s going to hopefully deepen them. I think it’s going to be tricky for a while. There’s going to be some collateral damage.
What can you reveal about the Grey’s musical episode?
I’m really excited. We’re recording the tracks right now. There’s a lot of talent in the cast. You’ll be surprised at how good some of the voices are. I think it’s a great experiment. The episode is from Callie’s point-of-view and I think it’s a very intense episode. As a one-off episode, which is what it is, I think it’s going to be something special. It’s great and bold, especially in the seventh year of a show, to take a few risks like this. Hopefully the fans are going to love it.
What songs are you performing?
I have two songs. One of my main songs is a kind of intense guitar based song. There’s a big conflict between many surgeons in the episode about something very big. Owen uses a song to try and take control of the situation.