Jessica Capshaw Defends Her Grey's Anatomy Love Life: 'Sometimes There's Making Out, And...'

As prurient an image as it can be to see two Grey’s Anatomy doctors-in-love melt to the kitchen floor in a lustful entwining, such an act raises the stakes for other marrieds – namely, Drs. Arizona Robbins and Callie Torres, whose so-so level of intimacy has been lamented by some fans of the same-sex pairing.

When Jessica Capshaw dropped by the TVLine office in New York City to preview an ironic twist coming in this Thursday’s episode (ABC, 9/8c), the conversation soon turned to Calzona cuddling, a topic the actress has very strong thoughts on. Capshaw also weighed in on Arizona’s new maternal leanings and teased the arrival of a new rival for her peds padwan, Alex.

TVLINE | Things have been a bit quiet for Arizona lately. But I trust you’re here to say that’s about to change?
Oh yeah. I always describe it the same way, that when you have, like, 12 regular cast members, and you only have like 42 minutes after commercials, there’s only so much storytelling you can do for each character at a time. So it becomes this funny little relay race…

TVLINE | … where actors kind of “pass the baton.”
You do. You get the baton, run your butt off, and then you pass it someone else. You’re all on the same team and you get excited about each other’s moments, but then it’s someone else’s turn.

TVLINE | So as much as actors love to act, did you appreciate the breather?
I always appreciate the breather because when your turn comes, it is so much. I look at these women who are headlining shows, like Julianna Margulies [of The Good Wife], where you are in every single scene, 24 episodes a year, and it’s a tremendous responsibility. You’re working 12- to 14- to 16-hour days. It’s intense, especially if you have families and everything else.

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TVLINE | This week on Grey’s, Callie’s desire for Arizona and Mark (played by Eric Dane) to get closer gets filed under, “Be careful what you wish for”?
Exactly, yes. They bond over cooking, and they do grow to have a greater affinity for each other. Last year was so much about them butting heads and trying to figure out where they belong in the whole paradigm of the relationship, and this year is much more about moving on from that. Everyone has been hoping for a little happier times, since last year was so tumultuous. They put the characters through everything there is to be gone through. [Chuckles] This year is about more harmony. But I’m on Twitter and I do read the things people say, and people get very up in arms. “What is he doing there? Why is he in that relationship?” There are also a lot of comments about Callie and Arizona’s screen time as far as making out. It’s interesting because people don’t raise the same questions about the straight couples. I’m not really sure where it comes from.

TVLINE | I think their point is they get Cristina/Owen having sex on the kitchen floor, while there’s nothing comparable for Arizona and Callie.
See, I totally understand that, except that as the person playing one part of that couple, there are all different kinds of characters. There are all kinds of sexualities. There are all kinds of ways that people express their sexuality. I know couples who would do it on the kitchen floor all day long, and I know couples who wouldn’t do it on the kitchen floor even once. It’s the apples-to-oranges argument. I like to think that [Sara Ramirez and I] are creating as authentic a relationship as we possibly can, and I don’t think that we are being mired down by, “How many times did we kiss in that last episode? Did we kiss authentically enough? Was it as hot-and-steamy as Cristina and Owen?” That’s not something we’re aware of as we’re doing it, because we’re creating a story that is individual to our characters.

TVLINE | But there are some kissy pics from this week’s episode, so Calzona fans do have that to look forward to.
Yes! Yes! [Laughs] I know…. But that’s the thing, you’re always examining every facet of a relationship, and sometimes there is making out and sometimes there is not. I…. I don’t know.

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TVLINE | There was talk last episode about Arizona wanting her name on some sort of “paper,” as a parent to Sofia. Will there be elaboration on that?
No, I don’t think that’s going to be picked up again. That was a sort of very nice way to have it be clear that Arizona feels like a parent in this relationship. Of course with the first inkling of any baby talk, Arizona was like, “I’m not having babies. I don’t want babies. I spend my day with babies.” The [“paper”] story point was two-fold, explaining how hard it really was for her to watch [Derek and Meredith] not be able to be with Zola, but it was also meant to illuminate how much Arizona cares about Sofia, and how she sees herself as someone who needs to be on paper.

TVLINE | Do you think that’s a truer note to play, versus her being the begrudging third or fourth wheel?
Yeah, I think that gets old.

TVLINE | And it’s not flattering for the character.
It doesn’t even come down to that because I’m totally fine playing unflattering. It’s just uninteresting. It doesn’t show any evolution. Amidst all that they went through last year, if you look at it technically [Arizona] saved the baby, so there’s an investment in Sofia no matter what. I also don’t think it’s in line with her personality to be a baby-hater. [Laughs]

TVLINE | Will there be more scenes between Arizona and Zola?
I don’t know. There haven’t been, so far.

TVLINE | What are your favorite relationships to play, beyond Arizona/Callie?
I love working with Patrick [Dempsey], and he and I have gotten to work together a little more this year. He entertains me so much, I think he’s hysterical.

TVLINE | It seems like somewhere inside him is still that geeky kid from Can’t Buy Me Love.
Oh yeah. He’s beyond. He’s such a wonderful person. And I love, love, love, love Justin [Chambers, who plays Alex]. He’s such a wonderful man and father of five, such a good guy and incredibly talented. No one ever likes when you point this out, but out of everyone I think he gets the least credit for the kind of work he’s doing. If you look at him in any frame of the show, he is so consistent and so right on. I also love working with Chandra Wilson, who sort of ushered me into the show. She’s someone you learn something from every single day, she’s such a sage.

TVLINE | And is there anybody you haven’t gotten to work with much that you’d like to?
Jesse Williams. He and I haven’t worked together very much, and we get along really well. I would love to see some sort of banter between Avery and Arizona, I think it’d be really fun.

TVLINE | Tell me about Polly, the peds fellow arriving in Episode 8….
Well, it’s always been very clear that Arizona’s favorite has been Karev. That’s always been kind of mysterious and yet also deserved, because he’s done all these great things and yet he such an ass some of the time. But she loves him, and at the beginning of the season you saw her tell him, “You better light a fire under your butt, because if you want to become a fellow, you need to start publishing and doing stuff.” We then find him not having done anything and her meeting this sterling peds fellow (played by True Blood alum Vedette Lim) who’s been published and is the la-dee-dah of everything. When she comes to visit, Arizona gives her a tour and shows her around. And then there’s a surprise at the end.

TVLINE | All told, how has the character of Arizona shaped up versus your expectations first joining this medical drama?
Well, I was such a huge fan of the show before I ever got there, and I had auditioned for it two times. I had almost gotten it, and then not gotten it… and then almost gotten it, and then not gotten it… and then they called and said, “We have this character and it’s a three-episode arc.” I didn’t dare to dream that I could stay. And at the time there was a lot of talk about Katie Heigl and T.R. Knight asking to leave, so after my second episode, because I was with Karev all the time, I thought, “Maybe I’m coming in for him or something?” And then there was the afternoon where [the producers asked], “So… how are you kissing a girl?” I was like, “Huh!? What?! Where did that come from?” And there you had the creation of this Arizona character. Everything was turned on its side, and you had this character who at first glance was X, Y or Z to you, but there was so much more beneath it all. She was this very open, authoritative and sweet but strong, tough presence. It has been a really great gift to play that type of character.

Coming later this month to TVLine.com: In a can’t-miss video, Jessica Capshaw answers questions that were submitted by you, the readers!