“Grey’s Anatomy” went through one of its biggest changes ever after Ellen Pompeo’s final episode as a series regular, which aired in February. Still, longtime cast member Jake Borelli says working on the long-running ABC medical drama feels like business as usual.
The actor, whose Dr. Levi Schmitt first appeared on the series in Season 14 and then became a series regular the following season, said that the show’s 19th season worked as a rebirth of sorts for “Grey’s.” The series introduced a new class of interns — headlined by Dr. Simone Griffin (Alexis Floyd), Dr. Lucas Adams (Niko Terho), Dr. Mika Yasuda (Midori Francis) and Dr. Benson Kwan (Harry Shum Jr.) — and Levi is now in charge of teaching and supervising them as chief resident.
Despite the spotlight shining on a new set of doctors, along with plenty of other familiar faces within the cast, Borelli said this reset feels like just another day on the show.
“‘Grey’s” has always done this cycle of watching interns grow up to become residents, to then becoming attendings and then, you know, they either leave the hospital or become chief and then new interns come in; the show really is structured that way,” Borelli tells TheWrap. “It’s always felt like an ensemble show to me.”
Pompeo’s Meredith Grey started Season 19 as interim chief of surgery at the hospital and later decided to move to Boston to help her daughter receive the education she deserves at a high-profile institution — and to focus on her research in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The episode that aired Feb. 23 showed Meredith saying a lukewarm goodbye to Seattle and the hospital where she started her career, with promises to return (Pompeo continues to narrate the episode’s opening and closing monologues, and is set to return to the screen for the Season 19 finale this spring.)
With Pompeo also still continuing her work as an executive producer on the show, along with its sibling series “Station 19,” it’s almost like she hasn’t actually left.
“Ellen has never truly gone, you know; she’s still here, her trailer is still here. She said herself that she might pop back in, so it doesn’t feel like the big goodbye everyone’s making it out to be,” Borelli said.
Meredith’s absence on screen nonetheless feels like a monumental adjustment for fans of the show. And more change is on the horizon for the series, as showrunner Krista Vernoff previously announced she’d be stepping down from both “Grey’s” and “Station 19” at the end of their current seasons.
“The last time I left ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ I was gone for seven seasons and the show was still going when Shonda called me to run it,” she said in a statement in January. “So I’m not saying goodbye because that would be too bitter sweet. I’m saying ‘See you in seven seasons.’”
The show has yet to be renewed for a 20th season, though odds of that happening are a near certainty. Borelli said he’ll stay on “Grey’s Anatomy” for as many seasons as ABC and the fans will have him.
“I don’t want this show to end. I think it’s incredible, and we’re still telling really wonderful genuine stories and we’re still pushing the dial forward in terms of representation. I would love to see the show continue,” Borelli said. “I’m hoping for the season 20 pickup for sure. It would be great to have the show last two full decades and more.”
Grey’s Anatomy airs new episodes Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.