Sandra Oh has announced she’s leaving ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy.
“Creatively, I really feel like I gave it my all, and I feel ready to let her go,” she said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”
Oh has been part of the Shonda Rhimes’ series since the show premiered in 2005, so ending her time was not an easy decision. “I’ve gone through a lot of therapy over this,” she said. “I started thinking about it because I had to prepare myself. I gave myself two years to emotionally let go. At the end of the last season, Shonda took me aside and said, ‘What are your thoughts?’ I said, ‘I’m ready.’”
The actress noted that the decision “doesn’t feel real yet,” and said the support from her costars and Rhimes has been needed. “I seriously think that much support over processing it over this next year for me to be able to leave fully and leave in a way that I feel like Cristina deserves,” Oh explained. “For the first time, at least for my character, you actually have an endpoint, which in series television you never or very rarely have.”
Oh cited her costar Kevin McKidd with being “the greatest acting partner you could ever ask for.” With his help, she said she was able to be in a place where “you’re not acting, you are in a state of being and you actually are the character. To actually get to the point in my career where you can experience that was the highlight of my career. Learning the rare opportunity of what it is to work on one project for 10 years—that’s like being married in television years for like a thousand years.”
She has many hopes for the ending of Cristina’s story. “I want this to be a celebration. I want us to get to that point where we see this character ride off into the sunset,” Oh said. “Letting go of such a huge part of my life…I want to cry right now. Grey’s has been the most important role of my life. Playing Cristina and growing her and growing myself in her, I want to usher her into the next section of her life in the best way possible. It’s got to be Cristina Yang’s happily ever after.”