A skeleton from Amelia’s substance-abuse past checks into Grey’s Anatomy this Thursday (8/7c, ABC), jeopardizing her cushy new job at Grey Sloan Memorial and her relationship with brother/colleague Derek.
In the following Q&A, Amelia’s portrayer, Caterina Scorsone , reflects on her character’s considerable Private Practice baggage, teases this week’s gossip emergency (and the ensuing Derek-related fallout) and explains why series creator Shonda Rhimes is not rushing into the Amelia-Owen romance we all know is coming.
TVLINE | You must’ve assumed Amelia’s past would eventually come back to bite her.
Absolutely. You can’t live in Shondaland without that kind of deep, dark secret coming to light at some point.
TVLINE | How does her secret leak?
Amelia is involved in a complicated neuro case that a bunch of the doctors are involved in, and she’s asked to come into the waiting area to discuss the case with a family member. And, as it turns out, that family member knows all of her secrets, and freaks out that she is going to be her parents’ surgeon. And basically outs her to everybody about her sobriety and her whole history with the death of her lover Ryan.
TVLINE | She must be mortified.
Yes, she’s mortified, but it goes even deeper than that. I think she so firmly compartmentalized that part of her life. She feels that she escaped all of that when she moved to Seattle. Alcoholism and drug addiction is a very dangerous disease. And she knows that she’s always one drink away from falling prey to it. Becoming stressed and isolated is really dangerous for someone who suffers from addiction. So, yes, she’s embarrassed and humiliated, but, beyond that, she’s scared for her sober life. It threatens everything she is trying to build for herself now.
TVLINE | Will it cause her to relapse?
I don’t know. We haven’t gotten that far in terms of the story. I think Amelia has learned a lot, and she definitely has more tools now. But there’s always that risk for her. So far it hasn’t happened with what we’ve shot.
TVLINE | When you think back to Amelia’s rap sheet — Ryan’s death, writing prescriptions for herself, performing surgery under the influence — does it make you go, ‘She really doesn’t have any business practicing medicine!'”
[Laughs] What’s funny about that is when I was initially doing that storyline on Private Practice, I looked into doctors and addiction, and the truth is there are staggering statistics on how many surgeons and doctors have struggled with addiction problems. It’s such a high-pressure job, and the hours are so long… and they have constant access to pharmacy-grade drugs. It’s actually a fairly common problem. And they now have protocols that protect doctors, so they feel comfortable coming out and saying, “I have a problem and I need treatment.”
TVLINE | Does this week’s episode establish how much Derek knows about her past?
Derek doesn’t know everything. He knows that she’s had an addiction problem. He knows about Ryan dying. But there are things that Derek doesn’t know. The Amelia-Derek relationship ends up being really interesting in this episode, because she’s always looked up to her brother and kind of sees him as a father figure after they lost their dad. In this episode, this terrible exposure of her past happens and she looks to him to support her and protect her. He does not rise to the occasion. [Laughs] It really recasts how she perceives that relationship.
TVLINE | Does anyone come to her defense?
There’s a really sweet relationship that’s developing between Amelia and Dr. Weber, who is also a sober alcoholic. She seeks him out, and he has some incredible words of wisdom and protection for her. He fathers her in a really lovely way.
TVLINE | Are you enjoying the friendship between Amelia and Maggie?
Yeah. And it’s also nice because Kelly McCreary is totally awesome. We love having scenes. She’s a great actress and a cool lady. And we’re both kind of new to being series regulars, so we’re walking that path together. We feel very lucky about that pairing.
TVLINE | Amelia mentioned recently that she hasn’t had sex in ages. It seems inevitable that Owen will eventually end that dry spell for her. Any hints of that coming up?
We haven’t shot anything that explicitly goes down that road. I think Shonda is trying to be really careful about not accelerating past the healing that both of them have to do. He had this huge relationship with Cristina that was really important to him. And Amelia lost Ryan and her baby, and then broke off this engagement. So she’s got a lot of wounds to heal, and is very gun-shy in the love department. She’s really protective of her heart. She’s been really badly burned in the past. So I think Shonda is just being careful not to push that too soon. But… I definitely see why that speculation has happened. They have some really interesting, mutual wounded pieces. [Laughs]