Jessica Capshaw Talks Grey's Anatomy Infidelity and the 'Long, Load Road Ahead' for Calzona
When last we tuned into ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, the storm swirling outside couldn’t hold a candle to the tempest brewing between Drs. Arizona Robbins and Callie Torres, after the former’s infidelity was unexpectedly revealed. Can Callie get past being cheated on, again? And why did Arizona stray, anyway? Jessica Capshaw offers TVLine her in-depth take on the estrangement at hand — and how Arizona will have to earn any new happiness — as Season 10 kicks off tonight at 9/8c, with a two-hour premiere.
TVLINE | Coming out of the finale, were you concerned at all about how Arizona would wind up portrayed, her infidelity now outed?
Obviously nothing is black-and-white in any matter of the heart, but it seems like there were two ways to go: Arizona gets villainized and is completely not understood and no one gets it, or she manages to find some understanding — and then after that, she plays the rest of the season as some penitent partner and all that. So yeah, there definitely were some choices to be made about what would happen going forward but I didn’t have any anxiety, because I feel trust.
This is actually my fifth series regular year and there’s a very nice feeling about it. It feels safe. I feel taken care of. I know that between the writers and Shonda [Rhimes], nothing is off limits to talk about and the stories will go down and things change.
TVLINE | Right. They’re not going to slap a scarlet A on Arizona’s chest and throw her under the bus.
If that was a good story to tell they would, but like I said, so many things have happened on the show and you just go with it. You trust that they’re amazing storytellers.
TVLINE | As the premiere opens, are Callie and Arizona still mid-argument or have they retreated to their corners?
They are mid-argument. They’re going to have to hash this one out. There is a very, very long road ahead for this couple. Nothing is for certain. Again – matters of the heart. Like when I talked to you last, this is no small thing. This is a huge betrayal. And once you get through the shock of being betrayed like that, by someone you’re supposed to love the most in life, the next step is you have to understand why. Why it happened.
TVLINE | Well, it’s been intimated that the catalyst for this fling may have been more than just the whole leg business.
I mean, I definitely believe that. In playing her, I’ve imagined that there is a lot missing from their relationship. In terms of if you think about the laundry list of things you want in a partner, a lot of things are missing for them. And I don’t think they were in the beginning, but through the maturation of their relationship and alllll of the things that have happened to them, there was change.
TVLINE | From the clip that’s been released, it appears Callie is acting out, right out of the gate.
Yeah, I saw that clip. [Laughs] I like to think that I live a really honest life — I’ve been married almost 10 years and I’ve got these great kids, I pinch myself all the time – but when I came back to work mid-summer, after we all had had this wonderful break, it would be like all that happiness [Makes whooshing sound]. Every time I walked into a scene, it would be having to play someone who’s just done something horrible! So, it’s definitely being dealt with in the beginning of the season. I would come out of work and be like, “I really am a good person! I really am!!”
TVLINE | You can tell from that clip that Arizona was not expecting the news to be blurted out so fast, so publicly.
The funniest part in playing that scene — I think it was my first scene of the season – is that Kevin [McKidd] was in the scene, Jesse [Williams] was in the scene, Patrick [Dempsey], Ellen [Pompeo], Sandra [Oh] and Chandra [Wilson]. That’s a pretty full room. [Laughs] And during every everyone’s coverage, when Callie says that to Arizona, everybody had the same reaction — no one knew where to look! Like, “OK….” Everyone wanted to disappear. Including me.
TVLINE | Is it evident or expressed to Arizona that part of what Callie is dealing with here is that she’s been cheated on by a spouse again?
Interestingly, no. I’m sure that will come out, but they’re definitely dealing with their present. It’s not turned into breaking dishes. And it’s not going into, “Well I did this and you did that.” Not yet.
TVLINE | Shonda told me that this storyline was never about Lauren, that it was never about continuing with that character. Still, are you a bit sad that Hilarie Burton’s gone?
I love Hilarie, she is so much fun. I feel so fortunate, because as soon as we read that storyline at the table read, everybody just went, “Oh my god. Good luck to whatever lady comes in to play this part. Everyone’s going to despise her.” And as devastating as the storyline was, I think she did such a wonderful job. When I thought it was going to be Armageddon for the fans of “Calzona,” there actually were a ton of people who leaned into [Hilarie's] portrayal of someone really taken with Arizona and the story that got set up by it.
TVLINE | So, what can you say – is there couples’ therapy ahead for Calzona? My only hesitation is I feel like we just did that, a couple years ago, with Cristina and Owen.
Yeah, I was just about to say that. No, they’re dealing with them in a different way. They’re trying to figure out what comes next. Because you have to remember, they have a child; Cristina and Owen didn’t. And that’s a heartbreaking aspect to it.
TVLINE | What else would you like to say about the new season?
It’s very exciting. It’s very fresh. There’s a really rich story with the interns and weaving them into the attending doctors’ lives. That’s been such a strong part of the first quarter of this season that we shot, beefing up all their stories and understanding who they are – without, obviously, losing all the characters that you’ve come to know and love in the past 10 years.
TVLINE | Shonda has said it’s lighter, more fun — are you seeing that?
Yeah! Yeah, it is. Obviously my storyline isn’t… [Laughs, a lot] But you know what — and I’ve been told to be vague with you – I think the cool part is that while Arizona has just done a very, very bad, bad thing, she’s not a bad person, and she’s trying to find her way back to who she was when she first came on the scene. Listen, she’s not going to be wearing the wheelie sneakers, because she has the one leg now, but she’s going to get back to and perhaps wants to find her way to the character that first showed up and was not doom and gloom and was kind of fun, who said “awesome” and “super” a lot. The lighter, funner part is definitely ahead for Arizona; she just has to earn it.