Since the moment Kevin McKidd walked onto Grey’s Anatomy, his swashbuckling Iraq-war medic Dr. Owen Hunt has had us swooning for him almost as much as Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) was. Their star-crossed, post-traumatic-stress-disorder-impaired love affair has kept the show afloat even as it drifted through sex-with-ghosts storylines and a barrage of ill-advised guest stars. And now, as the drama suddenly rights its course heading into the final stretch of season 5, things will get even more complicated for Seattle Grace’s hottest new couple. The Scottish actor (last seen on Journeyman) talked to us about Cristina and Owen’s tough times ahead — and what’s to come (SPOILER ALERT!!) in the season’s remaining bombshell-laden (weddings, therapy, brain surgery, etc.) weeks.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So this week features some pretty serious developments between Cristina and Owen.
KEVIN McKIDD: It’s scary, what happens. Basically it’s a night terror. He’s unconscious and asleep and he starts to hurt Cristina. That’s his rock-bottom moment. So he starts to reach out for help. He starts to go into therapy and reach out to people like Derek Shepherd [Patrick Dempsey] to solve this thing. Derek at some point says, Look, this is treatable. With the proper treatment and therapy, you’re not trapped. I think that’s so important to talk about, with so many vets now. There’s such a stigma attached to admitting to something like that, and I think it’s important to discuss it in such a high-profile way.
How did you feel when you first took this role, knowing you’d be dealing with such a touchy issue?
We’ve worked on making sure this isn’t sort-of a fluffy representation of somebody who has this problem. He’s a good guy. He’s just deeply damaged right now. [When I started on the show], we knew he was a great trauma surgeon, and we knew he was going to get involved with Cristina. We didn’t know how much we were going to deal with the aftermath of being in the Iraq War situation. It was going to be more romantic then. But we realized pretty quickly that there was a lot there. It’s a really interesting opportunity for acting moments, and to follow the romance into that.
Do you think they really love each other, or are they just sort of clinging to each other for emotional support?
Ithink they’re really in love. I think Owen—I’m not speaking for Sandra,but I think Owen pretty much in the season premiere, Cupid’s arrow shothim in the heart when he saw her across the room. Something happened.And this whole season is about them fighting through all this crap sothey can get back to that thing. What’s cool about it is they’re bothsuch intellectual, badass people in their work. It’s cool to see thathappen to these people who are so straight ahead, showing each othertheir vulnerable sides and not showing them to anyone else. And she’ssuch a good actor. I think we’re really bouncing off each other well.
Will this poor couple ever just get to have sex like everyone else at Seattle Grace?
Ithink they will. Just keep watching. A lot happens this week. I thinkthey’ve drawn that one out a lot, and I know people are gettingfrustrated. I think it’s good because they’ve really connected on amental and emotional level. And now I think it’s time they connectphysically.
What’s up with the rest of the season? There are so many rumors about weddings, and Katherine Heigl and T.R. Knight leaving…
You’reonly just scratching the surface [in episodes that have aired] withwhere this Izzie [Katherine Heigl] thing is going. All I know isthey’re in every episode. She’s not dying, or at least she hasn’t yet.What I can tell you about T.R.’s character is Hunt sees something inhim that no one has seen before. Because his character’s been kind of adark horse this season. There’s an event that happens and I realizethere’s a lot more to him, that he has a set of skills that maybe heisn’t even aware of. Hunt starts to mentor him in a way that getsreally interesting. So that’s cool to see.
What has it been like, joining such a huge series with a history of off-screen drama?
I’vealways joined a show on day 1 — and on top of that it’s a hit show,so I was expecting the worst. But the transition has been really nice.It might have been different a few years ago in the middle of thehoopla. But now everyone seems to have settled in; they’re all thankfulto be there. I was nervous when I started. I didn’t really know theshow. I watched the first two seasons because [creator] Shonda [Rhimes]wanted me to, but she said she didn’t want me to watch seasons 3 and 4because she didn’t want Owen Hunt to know about the recent past. So Iwatched some to get a feel for the show, but I don’t know what happenedwith whoever and whoever, which is the way my character is.
After the incident this week, what’s ahead for Cristina and Owen?
He’llbe focusing on himself for a while. He and Cristina will veryreluctantly realize they have to separate, which is hard becausethey’re really, really involved with each other. But they know theyhave to have some time apart. It’s going to be pretty emotional. He’shaving to heal himself. They’re so clever, these writers. Some episodesyou think it’s so light and fluffy, but they’re ratcheting up theemotional stuff a lot in the last part of the season. And that’s goodtelevision. At the end of this season there’s going to be a bigcurveball for Owen and Cristina that neither of them see coming. Justas he starts to get over his thing, something else happens. Which isgood and bad. It’s like, Oh my God, this is big. It will be interestingto see how it leads into next season.