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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