Sarah Drew plays good girl resident doctor April Kempner on “Grey’s Anatomy.” Last season, April struggled with her shame over flunking the surgical boards and her guilt over losing her virginity, yet still ended up engaged to one gorgeous man while pining for another. This season, she will find herself in a full-fledged love triangle with Jackson (Jesse Williams) and Matthew (Justin Breuning).
In an exclusive interview with xfinityTV, Drew shared her thoughts about April’s high-class romantic problems, her medical future and the challenges of playing one of television’s few religious characters.
Is the Chief really dead? Shonda Rhimes has said we’ll see him [Dr. Richard Webber] again, but that could mean anything.
I cannot reveal anything about the Chief but I can tell you that we start up right when we finished at the end of the finale, in the same moment. The Chief was on the ground, I’m in the room with Jackson.
April’s in a love triangle with two of the hottest guys on Earth.
My life is really hard. Really hard.
But where is the love triangle going to go? She got the flash-mob proposal from Matthew, which basically ruined things for all real-life guys. Right after that, Jackson emerges from what seemed like certain death after rescuing a child. So where does that leave her?
She needs to figure out what she wants. That’s going to happen this season. And I think it’s not going to be an immediate thing for her. It’s going to take some time for her to figure out what she wants. And she’s going to hope that the person she chooses still wants her after she sat there trying to figure it out. Flip-flopping is not awesome. She’s a person who has a heart big enough for two people, I guess. So she’s going to really struggle through it.
April is the one character on “Grey’s” who wants a big wedding. Will she have one?
I don’t know. They don’t tell me that far in advance. I hope so! I would love to have a wedding to plan for and dress up for.
Which man would you pick for April?
I think that on paper Matthew is the better person for her. I think he’s more right for her. But her heart is still drawn to Jackson and so it just has to come down to what she chooses. I don’t think that she can make a wrong choice in this scenario.
April has been conflicted over her religious beliefs, including her opposition to premarital sex, and her guilt over having sex with Jackson. Does she figure out how to resolve that, too?
I don’t know what’s going to happen in terms of her continued faith journey. I think it’s a really interesting storyline and I want to see that develop. I want to see it affect how she works in a hospital. The emotional track of the faith story is her guilt. I think that a lot of people of faith deal with guilt. It rings very true. I totally understand it and relate to it. But I don’t think faith is supposed to produce guilt. I think it’s supposed to produce freedom. So I would love to see her find a place of freedom in the realm of what she already believes, not abandon her faith. So I hope that will happen.
April fell a year behind her fellow residents when she failed the boards. Will she catch up this season?
She takes them again in the third episode. I don’t know if she passes.
What else can you tell me about the upcoming season?
What’s going to be really fun for April is this love triangle that she has to negotiate is still going to be present this season. I think the other thing about April that’s going to be really cool is we’re going to see her really grow up as a doctor. We’re going to see her take charge and become a totally kick-a** surgeon and that comes along with our four new interns that have become series regulars this year. We’re going to start to see their stories expand more and we’re going to see us interacting with them more and they are going to bring out other wonderful things in our characters, so I’m looking forward to that.
ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee said that he sees “Grey’s Anatomy” running for many, many more years. How do you feel about that?
I am very grateful and very thankful. I didn’t even know he had said that until I was walking on the press line, I was like, “Really? He said that? Yay!” Our producer and headwriter on the show jokes that the show’s not going to end until Zola is an intern at Seattle Grace Mercy West. I love being on the show. It’s the most incredible job anybody could hope for, so I would love to be here for as long as they’ll have me.
April is one of the few religious characters on television who is also career driven and lives in a secular world. Have you gotten any feedback from other people from a similar background? Do you, as a Christian, feel a responsibility to represent them?
I feel like there are some people in that community that really want me to be their spokesperson and my responsibility to that is always I’m playing a person. I’m not playing a people. I’m playing one particular person who has this particular journey. My faith journey might be very different than April’s faith journey. It might be very different from your faith journey. It gets tricky when you ask somebody to be somebody’s spokesperson because, if you make a choice that isn’t in line with that person’s faith journey, they’re going to think that you’re ruining it for everybody. What I would hope to do is just to tell the story as authentically as possible and to tell the fullest version of April Kempner as I possibly can, to make her authentic regardless of whether her choices frustrate you or not. But I will say that a lot of people on Twitter, they love the fact that there’s somebody on TV that shares [their] faith and speaks up about her faith, and I’ve had a lot of people actually come up to me and talk to me about the struggles they’ve had with premarital sex and they really appreciate that someone is going through that struggle. It’s not a struggle you ever see. Nobody is on TV at 30 years old going, “I really shouldn’t have sex right now.” If anything, they’re making fun of virginity, so I feel honored to give a voice to that kind of story.
There’s been an online campaign for Jesse Williams to play Finnick. It didn’t work, but do you think he should have gotten the part?
Yes. Of course. He should be cast in everything he auditions for. I love Jesse Williams.
Do you think there should be an animated “Babies of Grey’s Anatomy” show?
Absolutely. Yes. Then other characters should start having babies as well. Then they could all have their own show. They could pretend to be doctors. Daycare could be their homebase. It’s a great idea. I think you should pitch it.
“Grey’s Anatomy” returns Thursday, Sept. 26 at 9/8c on ABC.