Grey’s Anatomy, season six finale: let’s remember the scene. A man goes on a killing spree to avenge his wife’s death and shoots a doctor. Dr Miranda Bailey tries to save the doc but can’t get him to theatre because the police have shut off the lift. Bailey goes nuts as man dies in her arms. Meanwhile, the madman is still roaming the hospital. He holds a gun to Dr Cristina’s Yang’s head, Dr Owen Hunt jumps in the way and is shot, Dr Meredith Grey helps Hunt and suffers a miscarriage in the process. The gunman shoots himself, the hospital swarms with police and Grey mourns the death of her unborn baby.
How can season seven top this emotional rollercoaster? With the new season starting on Showseries this week, actress Chandra Wilson, who plays Dr Bailey, fills us in.
At the end of season six there was some Oscar-worthy acting, including your freak-out scene because the lifts weren’t working. How did you prepare for it?
My goodness. It was actually one of those things where the situation was so incredibly sad. Pounding on things and lashing out — all of that stuff is very much against my personality. So just being in that position, and the richness of where the characters were, was all I needed.
Did it leave you emotionally drained?
Actually, I was really energised after that. I just felt like everything was in the right place. We were doing exactly what we needed to be doing at that point in time. Everything led up to that – and then there was still work to do afterwards. When you have that feeling that you’re in the right place, it gives you energy as an actor. It would’ve been more draining if I had been pulling from something personal, pulling from my childhood. But because it was what was happening in the show, it made it OK.
How do you think this will change Bailey in season seven?
I was asking that same question – where does she go? I think George’s death last year stunned her in a way that she had to keep functioning and try not to get emotionally involved with her co-workers. But for me, the image that never went away was that the barrel of the gun was in her face. Normally if there’s blood and someone is shot you go into doctor-mode, but she could never get the image of that gun out of her head long enough to do her Dr Bailey thing. It’ll be interesting to see if that kind of fear still lives with her or comes back to revisit.
Screenwriter Shonda Rhimes originally planned that Bailey would get shot, but she couldn’t go through with it.
I heard about that, and I was like ‘wow.’ I don’t know what it would’ve been like to get hurt – for Bailey or for me – because just looking at the gun was too much for me.
Your on-screen love interest, Jason George, is starring in Rhimes’ new medical drama Off the Map, which probably means no happy ending for Bailey and Ben. Are you disappointed?
I honestly don’t know what that means. I don’t know what’s going to happen to that relationship. There could be some happy ending that we don’t know anything about. Off the Map is a mid-season show, so there will be [some time] for him to work on Grey’s.
Was it fun to play a flirtatious version of Bailey?
It was certainly a long way outside of Bailey’s comfort zone. For me as an actor, it was scary to step outside of what you’re used to and try something new.
What have you been doing during the hiatus between seasons?
I’m actually having a hiatus [laughs]. I forget to do that sometimes. So I said I wasn’t going to worry about whether they ask me back next season. I just wanted to sit down and take a break, be a mom and go to
a PTA meeting – all the things that I, unfortunately, miss out on during the year.
Grey’s Anatomy season seven debuts on November 3 at 7pm on Showseries, with subsequent episodes screening every Wednesday.