by Emma Loggins
We had the pleasure of chatting with British-born actor Kevin McKidd plays Owen Hunt in the hit ABC show, Grey’s Anatomy. With the season five DVD about to be released, the actor talks about his life in front of the camera, his thoughts on the show and some secrets from the set of the new season…
What can you tell us about your character in Grey’s Anatomy?
Kevin McKidd: I play a new character called Dr. Owen Hunt. He is a trauma surgeon who joins the show in the premier episode of season five. By chance, he is involved in a road traffic accident and he does an unorthodox procedure in the field to save a guy’s life. The chief notices this and offers him a job – but Owen is a trauma surgeon who’s serving in the U. S. Army. He’s home on leave, but he has to return to his tour of Iraq. However, he manages to shares a kiss with Cristina Yang before he leaves.
How does he return to the show?
Kevin McKidd: He returns a few episodes later, which is when he takes the job offer by the chief. By this time, there’s been more than a little electricity between him and Cristina Yang – and I think she expects him to pick up where they left off, but he’s changed. Something bad has happened in Iraq that he goes on to tell her about – and it’s almost like a big cloud has come over him. They still have feelings for each other, but he’s dealing with a lot of unresolved issues, as well as psychological things that are connected to some of the trauma he witnessed in Iraq. It’s an interesting love affair between him and Cristina – and it’s a really interesting storyline because it’s bringing to light the really relevant and topical subject of how we deal with our veterans. How are we reintegrating our soldiers and helping them get back to a normal life? What are we doing about post-traumatic stress? We tackle some great issues with Owen Hunt.
If you could give some personal advice to your character, what would you say?
Kevin McKidd: Owen Hunt has a lot of stuff going on in his life, so I think I would probably say to him “You should try and have a little more fun.” I would also advise him to clear his own decks before he drags somebody else into this hellish place where he’s living right now.
Have you received any reaction to your role from troops in Iraq?
Kevin McKidd: I’ve received a few letters from people who are dealing with loved ones who have post-traumatic stress. Every letter I’ve received so far has been very grateful that a primetime TV show is talking about this issue and raising awareness because it’s very current and very traumatic for these families.
What have you learned about post-traumatic stress?
Kevin McKidd: The most important thing I’ve learned about this condition is the way there’s a big stigma about it in the military world. Men and women are suffering in silence because of this stigma attached to it. They feel they are trained soldiers, so they can’t reach out for help and they can’t acknowledge what is going on. That is very much the story we’re telling and I think it’s really important that we’re doing this. I feel really proud to be part of something like this on TV.
Were you nervous about joining a successful show that’s been running for five years?
Kevin McKidd: I thought I was over getting nervous about work, but I’ve never joined a long-running show like this before. I was, as we say in Britain, ‘bricking it’. What does that mean? I’m not completely sure, but it means I was nervous. My hands were shaking. It was a little strange, but it’s been an amazing experience – and the transition has been relatively painless.
How does it feel to be the new kid on the block?
Kevin McKidd: It’s really fun. I mean, I get to work with Sandra Oh, which is fantastic. I’ve always respected her work and when I was told my character and Sandra’s character fall for each other, that was my main pull to come to Grey’s Anatomy. It’s been really wonderful. I think we really focus hard on telling this story because it’s an important story, so being the new kid has been great. Everybody has been really nice to me, but they didn’t have to be. I’m very grateful for that.
Were you looking for an American series when this role came along?
Kevin McKidd: Well, I did a show last year that didn’t work out for various reasons and we were nearly packing up our bags to leave and go back to Europe when I heard about this role. This is a crazy business and something like this always happens. You get a call and somebody says, “We need to see you – and here’s an idea for this character.” I’ve never had a master plan in my life. I just follow where things take me, but that’s just the way the dice fell and here I am today.
Why were you thinking of returning to Europe?
Kevin McKidd: I’d been in Los Angeles for 18 months. We were renting a big house and we had all these kids, but there was no money coming in. What were we going to do? The whole town was in shutdown because of the writers’ strike, so it was the worst year for any European to move into Hollywood.
What made you decide to stay?
Kevin McKidd: My wife and I sat down and said, “We should just tough this out and see what happens next.” I’m glad we did because it’s worked out well.
Were you a fan of the show before you were cast?
Kevin McKidd: When I found out about the role, I bought the first two seasons on DVD because I hadn’t really watched it before. I thought to myself, ‘I’ll watch a couple episodes and I’ll be fine.’ I ended up spending the whole weekend watching both seasons back to back because it’s so highly addictive. I love the way there are procedural stories each week, but there’s the on-going drama of these people’s lives, too. I think that is why I loved watching it on DVD. I found it really satisfying to watch the whole season in one sitting.
What were your initial thoughts on the show?
Kevin McKidd: I thought it was cleverly written and it was very emotional. I really connected to it as a satisfying meal in each episode because there was comedy and emotion, as well as more heart rendering stuff going on.
Is there any truth to the rumor that a piece of equipment from the set was used on you during a recent health scare?
Kevin McKidd: It is kind of true, but it wasn’t a big deal. I had this weird bruise that came up on my calf after working out at the gym, so a real nurse on the set had a look at it. I mentioned this during an interview in Britain and somehow it was turned into the headline: “Health scare shock! Kevin saved by medic on Grey’s Anatomy set.” It was only a little bruise on my calf and she just checked it to make sure there was no blood clot there. She was just being vigilant. There weren’t any big red flashing lights and it wasn’t an emergency.
So they didn’t have to amputate your leg on the set?
Kevin McKidd: No. It’s still my own leg. I was fine. Thankfully.
Grey’s Anatomy: The Complete Fifth Season is available now on DVD!
Interview By: Emma Loggins