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Q&A: Chandra Wilson of 'Grey's Anatomy'

Actress talks directing Thursday's episode and whether a wedding is in Dr. Bailey's future

By MSN TV Nov 14, 2012 8:40PM
'Grey's Anatomy'/ABC
By Lie Shia Ong
MSN TV


In the nine seasons "Grey's Anatomy" has been on the air, we've watched characters come and go, but Dr. Miranda Bailey, who's been there since the beginning, is still walking the halls of Seattle Grace/Mercy West Hospital.

Dr. Bailey is still as tough as ever (she was nicknamed the Nazi by her interns, remember?), but fans have also seen a different side of her lately. This season the new interns nicknamed her something that doesn't really describe how the "old" Bailey would be!

Bing: More about 'Grey's Anatomy' | More about Chandra Wilson

MSN TV spoke with Chandra Wilson, the actress who plays Bailey, about how her character has developed over the years, whether she could be getting married in an episode still to come this season, and about directing Thursday's episode.

More: Official ABC 'Grey's Anatomy' page | Related: Q&A: Kevin McKidd of 'Grey's Anatomy'

MSN TV: It seems like things are finally starting to get a little bit more positive for the doctors in the aftermath of the plane crash. What can you tell us about this next episode?


Chandra Wilson: Yeah, we are continuing to move forward. Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) has come back to Seattle, so we get to find out if she's going to make her way back into the hospital. The April-Jackson relationship is moving forward. We do have to address the plane crash still because the lawsuit is going and some major events from the lawsuit come to light in this episode. And in particular for me, I was able to incorporate a character who discovers he has cyclic vomiting syndrome. It's this really terrible illness that has been linked to mitochondrial disease. My own daughter actually suffers from it. It gave me an incredible opportunity to be able to say that name on national television and give some validation to a lot of sufferers that are out there that haven't heard it nationally before and also help somebody hopefully that's sitting at home dealing with this syndrome and not even realizing it has a name. There are a lot of significant things that happen for me as director in this episode.

Video: Sneak peek of 'Grey's Anatomy' episode 'Damages'

What was it like being the director this episode, being behind the camera as well as in front of it?

Yes, so this was my seventh time up -- my fourth season in a row directing for "Grey's." You would think it would get easier each time, but no! [Laughs] It still feels like the first time every single time. I have a lot of two-person interactions in this episode. A lot of intimate scenes that we have as well as some very significant group scenes, so I got a chance to play with having lots of us in the same room and having us move in and out. That's always fun. And Bailey, I always have to remind myself to pay attention to Bailey when I'm directing because I'm so anxious to take care of everyone else, that I have to keep saying 'I have to take care of Bailey, too' [laughs].

The show's creator, Shonda Rhimes, has said this season will be one of romance, and there's also been buzz that there will be a wedding. I know you can't give too much away, but could wedding bells be ringing for Dr. Bailey and Ben?

We know that Ben has popped the question. I haven't seen the ring, but we know he's popped the question and he wants to move forward with getting married. I tell you what: Everything's going to be on him to make that happen [laughs]. Bailey's already been married. She's been there. Done that. Not that she did it the right way the first time. So, he doesn't get much participation from her in effort, but she said yes, so it's about getting her to that altar [laughs].

Which "Grey's Anatomy" nickname do you prefer? The Nazi or Booty-Call Bailey?


[Laughs] Always trying to get back to The Nazi. Always trying to get back there [laughs].

Some of your fans sent in questions they wanted me to ask you. Keridwyn wanted to know: What you have you learned most from playing Dr. Bailey?


Learned most. Hmm ... that doctors -- surgeons, in particular -- are human beings and that they don't have all the answers. They're trying to figure it out just like everybody else is.

Su wanted to know: What's the biggest challenge that you've had to overcome to get to where you are now in your career, and how can others learn from it?

Having courage, and courage doesn't mean that you're scared. It means you do things even though you're scared to do them. So, having the courage to go to that audition. So, having the courage to send in your résumé. Having the courage to do show up and do your best even if you're afraid.

Meagan wants to know: What's your favorite episode of "Grey's Anatomy" that you've been in?

"Always and Forever," I think, the pilot episode. The very first episode that established what kind of show we were going to be is the one that I always refer to when I describe what is "Grey's Anatomy."

So we had the musical episode last season, and I'm sure there will be more special themed episodes this season. Have you heard of any details yet?


I haven't heard, but we're very good about thinking out of the box with how we present our story. Everybody knows who the characters are now, so we don't always have to present them in the same way. Whether it was the "what would've happened if" episode or if it was the one where we were doing the documentary style or the music event, we like to take those risks. I just don't know what risks are, though [for this season].

Now, after nine seasons on the air, why do you think "Grey's Anatomy" still resonates with the fans so much?

Because we are willing to change. We try to remain as true to the original intent of the show as possible. Characters, cast members can come and go, but we still get back to the human nature of these physicians, and you know that mentality. I think especially in Season 9, there's something really interesting about watching those characters that were the babies that were the interns in the past and are now the grown-ups and are teaching. What kind of teachers are they gonna be? A lot of that responsibility falls on the backs of Dr. Bailey and Dr. Webber.

"Grey's Anatomy" airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.


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