When ABC’s ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ premieres its seventh season this Thursday at 9/8c, it will be revealed that in the aftermath of the gunman crisis, one of Dr. Lexie Grey’s signature skills came back to haunt her – and push her right to the precipice, perhaps beyond. Is the usually cheery Little Grey headed for a dark turn? And if so, the love of which good man might rescue her from the abyss?
Chyler Leigh shared with Fancast a peek at the breakdown perhaps no one saw coming.
Where is Lexie at when Season 7 starts, given the aftermath of the finale?
It’s about a month or so after the shooting, and James Tupper (‘Men In Trees’) plays a psychologist for everyone to go to – mandatory therapy. As he walks everybody through what they’ve been through, we see flashbacks. My character ends up having a complete nervous breakdown. She basically can’t shut her brain off, so she starts researching all this stuff about murders so she can rationalize what’s happened. Everyone calls her “Lexipedia,” and as she begins absorbing all this information she has a complete breakdown. With that happening, everybody stars wondering, “Is she going to be able to handle anything?” It becomes about Lexie having to prove that yes, it happened, but I’m recovering. The biggest person who has a hard time with that is Mark (played by Eric Dane), because he cares about her and wants to make sure she’s OK.
So are things now done, over, finito with Alex (Justin Chambers)?
[Series creator] Shonda [Rhimes] has said this, so I’m not too worried about spoiling anything, but the triangle is definitely over. For Lexie it becomes a question of who’s actually going to be there when the you-know-what hits the fan.
What was your reaction when you first read the scene where wounded Alex calls out for Izzie? Did it take the wind out of your sails, being Lexie’s portrayer?
I was so bummed! I was like, “That is so harsh!” But it makes sense. Alex loves Lexie – though he’s not necessarily in love with her – but his heart still belongs to Izzie. That became very apparent when he was on the verge of dying. And that changed a lot of things.
What is Lexie’s thinking regarding Mark these days anyway? Isn’t this the guy who once asked her to marry him?
He is, but for Lexie it was never a matter of whether or not she loved Mark but, “Hey, I’m young, trying to get an edge in the field I’m in and trying to figure my life out. So yes, I love you, but I don’t know that I’m ready for all that yet.” He’s older so he’s ready for commitment and marriage and kids at some point, and Lexie is not there yet. Ultimately it becomes a question of when she will be ready for something like that – and whether he’ll still be around then.
You would think that staring death in the face might make her sober up and decide to just go for it.
You’d think so, and you see that manifest in different ways, but I’m not aware of anything like [a reunion] quite yet. But never put anything past Shonda! [Laughs]
Would you say this arc has given you your toughest material to date?
Yeah, it has definitely been challenging. I think one of the most challenging moments I had was the finale of last season, which I am enormously proud of. I was looking at the [Season 6 DVD set's] extended cut – there’s like 20 extra minutes, so much happens! – and I was so, so proud of those episodes. And when I got to have some really heavy scenes in these first couple episodes back, it was fun to explore Lexie like that, to see what she looks like when something bad goes down.
I have to be honest, when Lexie first arrived on the scene she was a bit hard to take – so overeager to gain Meredith’s acceptance. Are you happy with how she has evolved?
I’m very, very happy with the progress. For Lexie it became a matter of becoming confident and knowing, despite the tragedies she’s been through, that when she stays focused she’s a fantastic doctor. Bailey is always encouraging her with that because she recognizes her gifts. So as far as work goes, she’s better off. Now with Meredith, it’s not like she’s still reaching out to understand if Meredith actually loves her. We’ve gotten past that point.
Is Mer’s miscarriage common knowledge when the season starts?
Meredith isn’t one to go about spewing inform about herself willingly, but it does become a factor eventually, yeah.
Have you been working with anyone this season more than in the past?
No, it’s been pretty spread out with everybody….
Because when I spoke to Jesse Williams in August, he was more than game to tease Jackson possibly being pointed toward Lexie.
He is so wanting that to happen, oh my god! I’m married, geez! [Laughs] No, just kidding. We don’t really know what’s happening, but we always do seem to be in scenes together for some reason. We always joke with the producer, “Are you trying to hint at something at us?” But then nothing happens. In the deleted stuff from the Season 6 DVD, there is a scene where Jackson is hitting on Lexie pretty hardcore, and she rejects the idea and walks away. [Pairing them] would make sense, I think, but who knows? If the show keeps going season after season, you need to keep some things in the reserves.
Well let’s talk about the show’s longevity. Conventional wisdom says that if it lasts longer than Ellen Pompeo is willing to stick around for, Lexie become the Grey in ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ Does that thought keep you up at night?
No, I would totally take that on – if that were to be the case. I don’t know where Ellen is [with her thinking], but that would seem like the logical next step. I haven’t had any official conversations about that with Shonda, considering we have plenty of time left, but I would be up for that, absolutely.
And now the big question: What happened to Lexie’s “blonde” ambition?
Oh lord…. [Laughs] It was fun, but… I don’t know that I ever actually hit the right blonde color I was looking for, so it was more of a pain in the butt than exciting. But it was nice to change things up.
Was the hair color change Shonda’s call?
[At the start of last season] Shonda put out an email saying, “If anybody wants to make any hair changes or change facial hair, let’s talk about it.” I was like, “Hey, why not!” But Shonda said, “If we were do something like that it’d have to be a big story point, and I don’t know if Lexie is ready for that.” So I thought it was dead in the water until midseason. Then it was: Guess what, you’re going to go blonde! [Laughs] When I came home that first day, my 4-year-old said, “Mommy, you have yellow hair!” That’s nice.