Sandra Oh Opened Up About Why She Took Her ‘Grey's Anatomy’ Role

Sandra Oh has been quite the prolific actress, starring in everything from Phineas and Ferb to her new series The Chair.

In a recent video interview with Vanity Fair, the 50-year-old actress revisited some of her most iconic roles throughout the years, including her run on the ABC medical drama Grey's Anatomy.

During the clip, Oh got real candid when she explained why she wanted the part of Cristina Yang in the first place. “The reason why I wanted to play Cristina on Grey's Anatomy is ‘cause dramaturgically, at least in the pilot...she was the antagonist,” Oh said.

Oh further elaborated on why she found the character appealing, saying, “Meredith Grey is the protagonist and clearly [Cristina] was the antagonist. And I'm like, ‘That is the part that I wanted to play.’ I found her interesting. I found her prickly. I found her having a lot of the qualities that I don't particularly feel like I have. I just was also at a point where I did not want to play a character of authority. I was more interested in the role of the students—'cause you have to find stuff out. You don't have answers. You're the person trying to find stuff out. That's where story is.”

The interview also revealed that Oh originally stepped away from the role. “We went through the scenes, so they did see me—what I was going to do with Cristina. They saw me act her,” Oh said in reference to the audition process. “And then when it was time to wait for, you know, studio blah-blah-blah to audition like properly, my great team called me and they said, ‘Walk out. Just leave.’ Because they couldn't get the deal that they felt that I deserved, which I am eternally grateful to them for.”

But, luckily, it all worked out in the end.

Although Oh said “no,” creator Shonda Rhimes really wanted the actress to play the part. “So I guess it worked,” Oh said.

Sandra Oh would end up portraying Cristina Yang for ten seasons, receiving five Emmy nominations along the way. And even though she's left the show now, Oh still has a soft spot for her medical character. While celebrating her fiftieth birthday last month, the actress listed Cristina Yang as one of the many “muses” she was thankful for.

And you nailed that part, Sandra.

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Joel Calfee

Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Joel is the Associate Editor for News & Entertainment and has been reporting on all things pop culture for over 5 years. Before working at PureWow, he served as a Features...
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