‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Alum Jessica Capshaw Says Arizona’s Return Brings ‘the Magic’ Back in Season 20

The actress tells TheWrap about leaving the ABC medical drama in 2018, and why she’s “nervous” about her kids watching for the first time

Chandra Wilson and Jessica Capshaw in "Grey's Anatomy." (Disney/Anne Marie Fox)

“Grey’s Anatomy” is staging an anticipated homecoming in this week’s episode, and actress Jessica Capshaw is just as excited as the fans. The ABC medical drama will bring back Dr. Arizona Robbins in the April 4 installment, titled “Baby Can I Hold You,” for a complicated surgery that Capshaw says will help bring “the magic” back to Grey Sloan Memorial after a dramatic start to Season 20.

“The mission was very clear for Arizona to come back at this time where everyone’s a little bit world-weary and missing the magic and joy of healing and bring back some of that joy and levity,” Capshaw told TheWrap. “Hearing the reactions from viewers feeling so excited to reconnect with her made my heart grow a size for sure.”

The episode marks the first time viewers will see the beloved character since being written off the show, alongside Sarah Drew’s April Kepner, at the end of Season 14 in 2018. Having spent almost 10 years as a series regular on the hit drama series, Capshaw reflected on the “sadness” she felt after exiting the show, though it led to roles in films like Netflix’s “Holidate” and Hulu’s hit series “Tell Me Lies.”

Still putting the scrubs back on for Season 20 felt like a “seamless experience.”

“I put on my costume and I stepped onto the stage and it was just fun.There was no wanting to throw up or die, no scariness. It was just like being (back) with friends,” Capshaw said. “The first day was full of reunions, every time I walked around a corner, there’d be a different person that I would just scream with excitement about being able to see.”

Capshaw credited longtime “Grey’s” writer Meg Marinis — who took over showrunning duties for Season 20 after Krista Vernoff’s exit — for orchestrating Arizona’s return this season. As photos from the new episode tease, the hour will have Arizona working closely with her former colleagues Dr. Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson), Dr. Amelia Shepherd (Caterina Scorsone) and Dr. Jo Wilson (Capshaw’s real-life best friend Camilla Luddington.)

Jessica Capshaw and the cast of “Grey’s Anatomy. (Disney/Anne Marie Fox)

The return also gives Arizona some face time with the new crop of interns, who’ve stepped into the center of the medical drama after Ellen Pompeo reduced her on-screen time on the show.

“I came to know them as a group, but each one of them is dynamic in their own way. They bring so much to [the show],” Capshaw said. “I have tremendous and deep respect for all the changes that have happened, so I felt very much like this is a house that someone else lives in and I’m coming to visit so let’s have the best party while I’m here.”

Fans can certainly expect plenty of joy, “magic” and medical marvel when Arizona returns this week. And while Capshaw is no stranger to seeing her character go through the wringer on the drama series, she says watching “Grey’s” with her kids for the first time has her feeling a little extra jittery.

“They never watched the show because they weren’t old enough, but when I went to film it, they were like ‘do we get to watch it?’ And my 13-year-old, all of her friends watch it but she hasn’t been bitten by the bug yet,” Capshaw said. “I haven’t been nervous with the airing of an episode in so long. But the idea of my kids watching it on Thursday night is actually making me really nervous.”

“Grey’s Anatomy” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. Episodes are available to stream the day after premiere on Hulu.

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