Grey’s Anatomy’ T R Knight EP Krista Vernoff On George Meredith’s Touching Reunion More

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SPOILER ALERT: The story includes detaisl about the Dec. 3 episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Once again this season, Grey’s Anatomy mixed tragedy and joy in tonight’s episode as the staff at G…

George is the second beloved
Grey’s
character after Derek to be brought back in the beach motif. How did T.R.’s return come about?
ABC
VERNOFF
: Well, George was my first idea. When this imagining came to me I was walking on the beach, as I’ve told you Nellie. I had found a way where there was no one there and I felt like I could take my mask off and just walk with my feet in the water, and the imagining came to me of Meredith walking with her feet in the water with George. That was the first image that came to me, and the joy that filled me up when it came, I believe, is translated on screen and I believe we have given many millions of fans that moment of pure joy. Right now in our lives, in this pandemic pure joy is rare, and so I’m so grateful to T.R. for coming and playing, and offering that to everyone, because I think it’s meaningful.
When I called Ellen and said, I have this idea to have you having these dreams on the beach, and I want to get someone amazing, like T.R,. Ellen was like, yes, get T.R., and also Patrick. That was the evolution of that. Ellen and T.R. are close, and George and T.R. were both always favorites of mine, and so he was my first idea of, as a fan, who do I want to see again? I wanted to see George, so that’s where it started. And then which episode he went, I don’t know how to explain the evolution of scripts under me, but sometimes you get eleventh-hour evolution. I wrote the scenes, and didn’t know where they were going to go. We hadn’t shot them yet, I think, and then decided.
DEADLINE
T.R., who called you and what was your first reaction? 
KNIGHT
: Ellen hinted at it first, but then Krista called, and we talked for an hour. Probably her ears were bleeding a little bit afterward, hopefully not too bad, but it was incredible. What was interesting is Krista, I hope you don’t mind me sharing this. Krista said at one point during our long conversation she thought that this might, if this might offer closure, and I was like oh, I think that’s already happened. What was interesting is something my husband, who is much smarter than me, and okay, granted that’s a low bar, said. We were talking about that idea of closure and he was saying that sometimes closure’s shutting a door, and sometimes it’s revisiting a familiar room, and finding what brought you joy. And it just hit me.
Going to the set that day, because we shot on the beach and it was an early call, so I’m driving in the dark because you want to be early. You don’t want to go back and be late. Driving up that windy road in the dark, and people are just starting to arrive, and to see Laura Petticord, she’s our second assistant director. She handles the base camp and corrals all of us, and does that momentous job, and she is someone who’s been with the show, I think, from the very beginning, or at least from that first season. She is like kindness in human form, so seeing her, and then all of a sudden seeing Shawn Hanley, who is now the first assistant director, and then Norman Leavitt, who came back out of semiretirement to try to make this (points to his face) look like something not hideous. It was just wave upon wave of happiness, of joy. Krista was there the entire day. Linda Klein, she was there all day too.
VERNOFF:
She’s a medical producer and there was no medicine [in the beach scenes].
KNIGHT
: And then to have Ellen, and Chandra, and Jim, of course, and all the other familiar faces that were there, too, because there were quite a bit of crew that were there still. To have all of that, it was just unlike any other experience I’ve ever had in my entire life, in my 47 years.
To act with Ellen, it’s one of those things you wish it always happened but then it wouldn’t be special when it did, to act with someone who you just know that it’s like, okay, what are you going to give me there. Okay, now I’m going to try to match that, and then it’s this game. It’s this rollercoaster that you’re on together. To be able to experience that again with Ellen, and to know that every take is going to be different, there’s going to be a sense of play, a sense of challenge. It’s the best kind of acting, if that makes sense.
DEADLINE

There were some emotions involved in your departure from the show. Did the decade-plus away from
Grey’s
give you some perspective? Did you miss the show?
ABC
KNIGHT
: I mean the people, yeah; it’s the people and it’s George. Acting, I feel, is interpretive, you take what’s given to you. It was hard for my brain to try to figure out who George would be now, or what he would be, and then to get Krista’s pages, even the first round. I only got two, but I mean it was just…oh yeah. I don’t know how to describe it other than it’s like, yeah, there he is. It’s that luck of having excellent writers give you so much. It’s kind of like, this is a bad metaphor, if acting is climbing a mountain and then when you have excellent writing that supports you, it’s like a gondola that lifts you all the way up. It drops you off not at the top, because you’ve still got to do a lot of work yourself, but close to the top and it makes the climb so much easier, and I’ll stop that terrible metaphor right now.
What I loved about what Krista did with George was, because Meredith is having this vision, for lack of a better word, of who George would be. George is a very complicated person and that’s what made him such an amazing pleasure to play, but Meredith is seeing the best of George: she’s seeing his humor, his kindness, his generosity, and in this brief moment that you get to see him, it’s such a great way to remember him.
We all know George also had his faults. He stumbled a lot. Literally and metaphorically, he was a little passive-aggressive, had some anger, held a grudge a little too long, but that’s what made him such a brilliant character to play, so to be able to get back into that world was… Like I said, there’s a better word than profound, and I’ll get there someday.
DEADLINE
:
Did you go through the same elaborate security procedures to keep T.R.’s return a secret as you did with Patrick’s, or did he attend the virtual table read this time?
VERNOFF
: No.

George was called Thatcher in the script that we read at the table. It was all the same. Nobody saw any dailies. I think there are members of the cast who still don’t know this is happening. I actually think, sincerely, most of the cast doesn’t know this is happening. We’ve been really, really, Ellen and I, joyfully Scorpio secretive.
KNIGHT
: And only my husband knows. Only Patrick knows. I’m going to have a lot of angry friends, but that’s…they’ll understand.
VERNOFF
: Yeah, my kids don’t know.
KNIGHT
: Your kids don’t know? Oh my God.
VERNOFF
: You can’t tell the teenagers. Actually, they would get mad. They’re pretty good at keeping secrets, but yeah. I really want to say this, Nellie,  about T.R. as an artist. You hear his artistry in his every answer, and the joy for me, in watching him at work and at play again, was amazing. Even watching it on the day and then watching the cuts, as I worked with the editors. Like the thing that I noticed this last time that I watched it is that he’s talking about dancing and the joys of life, and his feet are dancing; he’s sitting on the beach but there’s this restlessness. There’s just always a next level, with T.R., of work and thought, and there’s so much joy and artistry that goes in. He never phones anything in. He never did, and that was really profound. I don’t think there’s a better word.
DEADLINE
How did the joke about George’s changed appearance come about? Was it improvised? 
KNIGHT:
That’s all Krista.
VERNOFF
: It was in the script. And what’s funny is I wrote it assuming that T.R. actually would look older, and as you can see, he doesn’t.
KNIGHT
: Oh, that’s baloney. That’s baloney. I have mirrors, I know.
VERNOFF
: I would argue that one of the reasons that that felt like a line of improv is how much joy came out of Ellen in working with T.R. again. It feels so alive, and yeah. The artistry they brought in each other, it was magic.
ABC
DEADLINE
:
Because of Meredith’s physical state, she spent a lot more time on the beach in this episode and had several meaningful conversations with George about life, death and both got to say to the other what they couldn’t because of George’s sudden death. Was this a final, proper goodbye for the character or could he be back for more? It did put a nice bow on his story.
VERNOFF
: I’ll say this. I thought this was a beautiful bow, and never say never. I mean, who knows. Now there’s magic possible.
DEADLINE
:
T.R., are you open to revisiting the character again, or was this it for you, the ending you were hoping for?
KNIGHT
: It was the ending I never expected and couldn’t possibly have expected, in so many ways. It’s such an awkward position to be put in to be asked that, to be honest, with all due respect, so I will just say in Krista’s hands I feel safe, I feel energized. It’s like when you mentioned about that line that seemed like improv. I’m not going to take credit for that. I give credit to Ellen and I give credit to Krista because to write something that can seem like improv, that’s in the writing, too. And that is just a joy to get to interpret.
DEADLINE
Krista, can you say who is coming to the beach next?
VERNOFF
: Well. Nellie, now you’ve seen that sometimes when people sit in Meredith’s room and talk, they appear to her on the beach, so the beach throughout the season exists not just with very special guest stars.
DEADLINE:
With Meredith in a clinical trial, is she is turning the corner on Covid?
VERNOFF:
What’s going to happen? What’s going to happen? I don’t know. You have to tune in.
DEADLINE
:
Patrick Dempsey mentioned in an interview that he would be appearing throughout the season. Will Derek and Meredith get closer like Meredith and George and have longer conversations? Fans would love that.
ABC
VERNOFF
: Yes, eventually. Eventually, they’ll get to have deeper, richer conversations as Meredith and George did. We worked with Patrick for two days. We had two days to capture four episodes, and so that’s why you’re not getting the full meal in one episode, that you got with T.R. where we had a whole day to do his scenes in one episode, and that is just about production realities and how many days we’re budgeted to be out on that beach, and now that the days are shorter, going to the beach, we get five hours of daylight. There are so many moving parts. You want more, tune in. It’s like you had a little taste before dinner and come back for dessert.
KNIGHT
: I think that makes George the soup.
VERNOFF
: I had thought I would save George until later in the season, but once I was…
KNIGHT
: Oh, I love the soup course.
VERNOFF
: Once I was on the phone with T.R. and the scenes were written, it was like, we need George now.
DEADLINE
:
One question about a plot in the episode. Is Tom in danger? He didn’t look good in the final scene at home.
VERNOFF
: He did not look good in that final scene. Tom has Covid and he’s symptomatic now, and Covid is a dangerous disease, and I hope he’s okay.
DEADLINE
:
What about the behind-the-scenes aspect of the show. How is it filming during this extraordinary surge of infections in L.A.?
VERNOFF
: Our protocols are so strict and strident. Because of how well budgeted the entertainment industry is, it’s been said to me by an epidemiologist the safest place to be is on a set in Los Angeles right now. We’re testing multiple times a week, and we’re maintaining distance, and we’re wearing masks, and we’re wearing visors, and I think that the surge in the L.A. is making everyone personally be even more careful. We shut down for longer after Thanksgiving. We tested more times. We’re taking it very seriously, so where I think it gets harder is if you want to go out on location. That’s not really a problem on
Grey’s
because we don’t do a lot of days out. Most of our sets are interior, or on our lot. (Spinoff)
Station 19
is a little harder, because we’ve got more extras and crowds to control.
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For More Details : Deadline Hollywood