Amy Brenneman on Private Practice's 'Beautiful' Finale and the Show's Most 'Bananas' Storyline
After a six-season run, ABC’s Private Practice comes to an end tonight at 10/9c, with a series finale titled “In Which We Say Goodbye” and boasting a happy ending for Kate Walsh’s Addison. Amy Brenneman previews the show’s swan song, shares why she’s glad to see Violet go stag at the big wedding and reflects on the “bananas” storyline that gave PP new life.
TVLINE | I’m curious, when did Shonda [Rhimes] first start dropping hints about what she had planned for the series finale?
With Shonda, it’s like those Tibetan people who when they have to choose a new Dalai Lama, they go up into the mountain for a while…. It’s like, “Don’t bother Shonda, she is writing the finale.” So, we didn’t really know until the table read. We knew Audra [McDonald] was going to come back, so that was exciting.
TVLINE | Who might be Violet’s date at Addison’s wedding — if anybody?
Violet is proudly single. Dammit. [Laughs] No, that was actually something that I weighed in on with Shonda, because there really wasn’t anybody that we were building to [her being with], and there are also a lot of great, happy, single people out there. So I was like, “Can Violet please be single?”
TVLINE | So, no bookstore guy?
No. I love that actor and I actually love, love, love those scenes, but I said to Shonda, “Please don’t let it end with the bookstore guy that we just met.” He seems a little like Mr. Goodbar. But that’s just me.
TVLINE | What sort of subplots surround the wedding framework?
There’s this really beautiful metaphorical thing that I am confident enough to admit that I didn’t understand; Shonda had to point it out to me. My storyline involves a patient (played by Parenthood‘s Sarah Ramos) we have never met, and yet in the storyline it’s clear I’ve been her therapist for a while. She is ready to move on, but she has these pangs and says, “I need you, I can’t do alone,” and I say things like, “We’ve been meeting together once a week for over five years, and I think you’re going to be OK.” I wondered, ‘Why are we ending with this storyline?” and Shonda was like, “You’re an idiot.” Because every line I say to this character is Shonda saying good-bye to the audience. Once I understood, I was like, “Oh, you’re a genius.” It’s beautiful. Also, Violet is writing a book, and in the last scene of the finale, they say, “What’s it called?” And I say Private Practice — almost like I am putting a little button on it.
TVLINE | Do you feel as if Violet’s been through one of the biggest gamut of storylines of all the characters? Maybe she’s in the top two?
I think about Cooper and Charlotte, going out on those Internet sex sites, and now they’re like this monogamous couple with children….
TVLINE | But you had the whole stolen baby thing, which is… yeesh. You teased to me back then it was like a Tarantino movie.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I think that poor old Violet was…. Listen, I think she is a better woman for it. I think she definitely grew up, that’s kind of my take-away from the whole arc.
TVLINE | God, I remember the hubbub about that finale like it was yesterday.
That was bananas, wasn’t it?! You may know this because you’re a reporter, but that was the end of our real first complete season, and we were doing “OK,” but really were still kind of finding our feet. And Shonda always says that that storyline put us on the map.
TVLINE | Talk about the table read for the series finale. Were you all pros or were some voices cracking?
Some voices were cracking, for sure. The thing is, during the table read, Shonda is doing her work. She is hearing the words out loud, but she is scribbling things. We looked over and she was making notes, and then we realized, “Oh, we’re actually not done. We have to shoot this thing.” Certainly for that last week, I was cuddling up to people like a little puppy. Paul [Adelstein], and Taye [Diggs]….They’re my brothers, and will miss them.
TVLINE | I know it rarely works out this way, but was the final scene of the episode the final scene you shot?
Almost. I delivered this thing where I’ve written this book called Private Practice, and they ask, “What’s it about?” and I say, “Well, it’s about us,” and it’s about life, and it’s about letting go, and it’s about falling…. It’s all about what the show has been, and I thought, “OK, I’m going to have a little acting exercise for myself, because I am going to look into my friends’ eyes and not act at all” — and it was really cool. I mean, we really were connecting. And then we all cried… and then poor old [Brian Benben] had, like, two more scenes. We were all drinking champagne, and he’s like, “I’m still working!”
TVLINE | Are there any onset eccentricities or behaviors that you’ll miss most?
I think the only time Taye actually speaks in his normal voice is when the cameras are rolling, because he is constantly having all of these freaky characters flooding through him. Also — and I don’t think she would mind me telling you this — Kate Walsh will come in in the morning with her fabulous pencil skirt on, and then by four in the afternoon, she will say, “Can I unzip?” And she’ll let her little pooch out after sucking in all day.
TVLINE | Do you think you’ll go out for pilot season?
I wasn’t planning on it. I want to produce again, to create material, which I am sort of in the process of doing, partly with my husband. I mean, if some fabulous thing comes my way, that will be great, but I’ve taken seven years off from producing to let my kids grow up, and now I kind of want to go back to that, so I feel like I am not totally just on the actor’s schedule.