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'Grey's Anatomy' Marks 12th Birthday, We Check In On Original Stars - Where Are They Now?

Some huge stars have been made in Seattle Grace.

03/04/2017 16:33 | Updated 03 April 2017

It’s been 12 years this week since young medical intern Meredith Grey woke up in the arms of a handsome stranger, then started her first day at Seattle Grace-West Hospital, to find one of the consultant surgeons was... guess who? And the legend of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ was born. 

Over a decade later, Shonda Rhimes’ show continues to be one of America’s highest-rated dramas. Although its ratings have started to fall, it remains in the top ten list for most watched and is now the longest-running scripted primetime show on ABC. As well as its strong storylines, it has been praised for its racially diverse cast.

With the show recently being renewed for a 14th season, it can boast four original cast members. We catch up on the whereabouts of those who previously cast off their scrubs and exited through the doors of Seattle Grace… 

  • Katherine Heigl played Izzie Stevens
    THEN: Katherine Heigl’s star power was uncovered as Izzie Stevens, reluctant model turned surgeon at Seattle Grace, and she was soon being recruited for the big screen. 2007 saw her star in blockbuster rom-com ‘Knocked Up’, but she alienated a few fans and definitely her co-stars when she called it “a little sexist” in an interview. Controversy also overshadowed her departure from ‘Grey’s’, after she withdrew her name from consideration for an Emmy, saying her work on the series hadn’t justified it. (Producers claimed she had asked for a light schedule.) She finally left the show in 2010. NOW: Despite her stunning looks, comic timing and talent, Katherine Heigl has yet to have another hit of the ‘Knocked Up’ variety. Although ensemble rom-com ‘New Year’s Eve’ was a hit, her lead role as Stephanie Plum in the much-hyped ‘One For The Money’ led to her being nominated for a Golden Raspberry. She costarred with Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton in ‘The Big Wedding’ and made her TV return last year in CIA drama ‘State of Affairs’, and also provided the voice of Andie in animated film ‘The Nut Job’. A 2012 interview revealed she had regrets about leaving ‘Greys Anatomy’ and wished for a guest return for Izzy “to see that girl take some power back”.
  • Isaiah Washington played Preston Burke
    THEN: Despite originally auditioning for the role of Dr Shepherd, Isaiah Washington caused all sorts of ripples as Dr Preston Burke, being named as one of People magazine’s ‘50 Most Beautiful’ in 2006. As ambitious as his intern Christina Yang, their chemistry turned to passionate romance until she left him waiting at the altar. Isaiah left the show suddenly in 2007 after he made an alleged homophobic slur towards his co-star TR Knight. He said afterwards, “They killed the actor (in me) on June 7, 2007." NOW: He’s been busy. A wrote a memoir about his career and, more strikingly, his search for his ancestors in Sierra Leone, a country where he conducted extensive work for charity, donated medical supplies and helped build a hospital. He starred as one of the two Washington snipers in real-life drama ‘Blue Caprice’ in 2013. He currently appears in CW network’s ‘The 100’, a post-apocalyptic drama. And despite his earlier disaster, Isaiah made a welcome guest return to ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ in 2014, in a storyline serving to farewell his character’s former fiancée Christina Yang.
  • Kate Walsh played Addison Montgomery
    ABC
    THEN:
    Kate Walsh wowed fans and ruffled feathers when she turned up as Dr Shepherd’s WIFE Addison, much to the surprise of his new girlfriend Meredith Grey. And then caused a few more by revealing her affair with his best friend Dr ‘McSteamy’ Sloan. No wonder she got her own series in 2007, starring as the same character in LA-based ‘Private Practice’, also continuing to make guest appearances in ‘Grey’s, including a memorable musical episode ‘Song Beneath the Song’.
    <br>
    NOW:
    Walsh finally departed ‘Private Practice’ after six seasons, and proved her acting chops weren’t purely medical with a strong role in Neil LaBute’s ensemble drama series ‘Full Circle’. Although NBC sitcom ‘Bad Judge’ only lasted a season, lucrative TV commercials for Cadillac and Caress bodywash have kept Walsh’s beautiful face in the public eye. Her strongest recent role has been in the award-winning FX series ‘Fargo’.
  • Sandra Oh played Cristina Lang
    THEN: One of the original interns, and indisputably the most ambitious among them, Cristina Yang caused ripples when she arrived at Seattle Grace. The charismatic Sandra Oh was praised for creating a female, Asian character on primetime telly who would not and could not be overlooked. NOW: Sandra Oh exited the series at the end of Season 10. In the last couple of years, she has teamed up with fellow Canadian Ann Marie Fleming on an animated feature film ‘Window Horses’ and recently announced plans to appear in a short film ‘Autumn Day’.
  • TR Knight played George O'Malley
    ABC
    THEN:
    As the clumsy but cuddly George O’Malley, TR Knight was one of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’s most popular characters. Always infatuated with Izzie, he finally got the girl before he was dramatically killed off.

    NOW:
    Openly gay actor TR Knight starred in a Los Angeles production of musical ‘Parade’ before making his return to Broadway in 2010, costarring with Patrick Stewart in David Mamet’s ‘ A Life in the Theatre’. Fans will have spotted him in ‘The Good Wife’ as recurring character Jordan Karahalios, and he appears in the film ‘A Year and Change’.
  • Chandra Wilson played Marion Bailey
    THEN: Her colleagues referred to her as "The Nazi" because of her tough personality and blunt attitude. Although often harsh with her interns, she often revealed her softer side. She married Tucker Jones in 1995, but their marriage encountered difficulties in 2007, and Miranda often had trouble balancing her work commitments with her personal life. NOW: Still on the show, Chandra has been awarded many times for her work in the role.
  • Patrick Dempsey played Derek Shepherd
    THEN: Dr Shepherd was the McDreamy of the hospital, the target of many a young intern's affections, but really only there for one woman - Meredith Grey. After years of misunderstanding, the couple were happily married by the time of the charater's shock death in 2015. NOW: With an established big screen career by the time he left the show, Patrick has gone on to roles in ‘Bridget Jones’ Baby’ and the forthcoming 'Berlin I Love You'. He also spends a fair time on the track, including the Le Mans 24-hour race. He has he has his own sports car and vintage car collection.
  • Brooke Smith played Erica Hahn
    ABC
    THEN:
    Brooke Smith was a familiar face from TV series and ‘Silence of the Lambs’ when she joined the cast of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ as Erica Hahn, a top surgeon, and had a romance with colleague Callie Torres.

    NOW:
    Since leaving the show in 2008, Brooke Smith has seldom been out of work, including appearances in ‘Law and Order’ and ‘American Horror Story’. Her biggest role has been in Leiv Schreiber’s hit show ‘Ray Donovan’, where she played Frances. She also starred alongside Melanie Griffith in film ‘Day Out of Days’, telling the tale of a 40-year-old actress working to make it in the cutthroat business of Hollywood while contending with ever-youthful competition.
  • Sara Ramirez played Callie Torres
    THEN: Torres was initially conceived as a love interest, and eventual wife, for O'Malley, and was created to be disliked by her colleagues. Further storylines include relationships between her and plastic surgeon, Mark Sloan (Eric Dane), cardiothoracic surgeon Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith), as well as a marriage to pediatric surgeon Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw). NOW: After 12 seasons on Grey's Anatomy, Sara left the show at the conclusion of the twelfth season. Ramirez and longtime partner, Ryan DeBolt, got engaged in Paris, France. Since then, she's taken on voice work.
  • Eric Dane played Mark Sloan
    ABC
    THEN:
    Not many actors can boast a ‘water-cooler’ moment, but that was what Eric Dane provided with his first appearance on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ – dressed only in a small towel – when he became forever Derek Shepherd’s love rival ‘McSteamy’.

    NOW:
    Film appearances included ‘Marley and Me’, ‘Burlesque’ and ensemble rom-com ‘Valentine’s Day’, which also featured his old co-star Patrick Dempsey. Most recently, he’s starred as Commander Tom Chandler in (another) apocalyptic drama ‘The Last Ship’, produced by Michael Bay, and he can be seen in TV mini-series ‘The Fixer’.

 

 

 

 

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