While we could sit here and blanket this article by saying that this is “shocking news”, is it really that shocking that an actor, after a decade working as a part of the same show, would decide to eventually say goodbye to the experience? We don’t think so, and it’s for that reason that the following news was almost a foregone conclusion in some ways.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter today, Sandra Oh confirmed that she is going to leave “Grey’s Anatomy” at the end of the season, when her contract is set to expire, rather than negotiate for a new one. In explaining why, the actress eloquently explains that it is not only the right move for her, but it also is for her character:
“Creatively, I really feel like I gave it my all, and I feel ready to let her go. It’s such an interesting thing to play a character for so long and to actually get the sense that she wants to be let go as well. [Cristina] wants to be let go, and I am ready to let her go. We have to start the process, story-wise, for the Grey’s writers to think of why she’s going to go.”
Meanwhile, creator Shonda Rhimes offered up a heartfelt tribute of her own for Sandra, who auditioned for the second role that she created for this show over a decade ago:
“One of the best days of my life as a writer happened the day Sandra Oh walked in my door to audition and forever changed the course of Grey’s Anatomy with her brilliant, nuanced portrayal of Cristina Yang. Over the past 10 seasons, I have been made better by Sandra’s trust, faith and friendship, and I can’t quantify how grateful I am for her collaboration on a character we both love so deeply. This year is going to be bittersweet for us — we’re both going to savor every moment of Cristina Yang, and then we’re going to give her the exit she deserves. And when Sandra walks out of my door, Grey’s Anatomy will once again be forever changed.”
The two things perhaps worth noting here the most are that Rhimes makes no mention of the show ending (which some have said it needs to after such a long run on TV, while it also does not seem like they would kill Cristina, given that she clearly does not “deserve” to die.
We will miss Sandra, mostly because she is such a fantastic actress who will get an opportunity now to share her gift on a variety of other projects. After so many years, we expect her to be able to spread her wings and take on very different characters without a problem.
There are still other contract issues that need to be resolved this year. Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, James Pickens Jr., Chandra Wilson, and Justin Chambers all have expiring contracts this year, and it still remains to be seen how many of them will be maintained. There also is the possibility that Pickens could be killed off during the premiere, as Chief Webber was electrocuted during last season’s finale.