Grey’s Anatomy’s Richard Flood knows that when Season 18 of the ABC drama gets underway Thursday, Sept. 30 (9/8c), all eyes will be on Cormac as Meredith’s proposed new love interest. Viewers will be sizing him up, evaluating him, comparing him to those who have filled that role before, in particular Patrick Dempsey’s Derek. “Oh God, that’d be tough for the ego,” Flood tells TVLine. “But Grey’s Anatomy, Meredith Grey… it’s all so much bigger than me. I’m just trying to play my part as truthfully as possible and hoping the audience will be happy with how the story tells itself.” Here, the actor teases for TVLine what’s to come — and weighs in on whether we were imagining things between Hayes and a certain other doctor.
TVLINE | First things first: Where do things stand between Meredith and Cormac when we return to Grey Sloan?
I suppose at the start of this season, there will be references to stuff that has happened off camera, then you’ll see where it goes from there.
TVLINE | So it’ll be like we’ve flashed forward a little bit, then we’ll backtrack to fill in the blanks — is that about the size of it?
Maybe something like that. Have I been vague enough for you? [Laughs]
TVLINE | More than. Let’s try this: How would you describe Cormac’s feelings for Mer at this point?
I think his feelings are evident for everybody to see. But in many ways, he’s quite Irish. He’s a reserved kind of character who wouldn’t be effusive with his feelings. But I think it’s clear even in what he doesn’t say more than what he does say how he feels.
TVLINE | Yeah, he doesn’t have much of a poker face where Mer’s concerned.
Yes, his feelings are probably there for everyone to see, even if he’s not being vociferous about things. But she’s a very infectious character. It’s hard not to be drawn in by her.
TVLINE | Would you say that she returns his feelings?
Well, she’s obviously had a very difficult season last year, so she’s starting anew and going full-throttle into the next phase of her life. But the heartstrings do pull at times, and whether you’re ready or not, things happen.
TVLINE | Have you and Ellen Pompeo had conversations about how you think Meredith and Cormac would react to one another?
We have had conversations in the past about the relationship when we got scripts and saw certain things, but we haven’t really had any conversations this year about what’s going to happen. It’s Grey’s Anatomy, so it won’t be simple.
TVLINE | It never is.
Before we started this season, [showrunner] Krista Vernoff was laying out for me where they imagine the story going — not just with regards to Ellen’s character but sort of the whole storyline throughout the season. There will be lots of twists and turns… lots of bumps along the way.
TVLINE | Speaking of twists and turns… Feel free to tell me I was seeing things, but… did I imagine flickers of sparks between Cormac and Jo last season?
[Laughs] I don’t know. I mean, the characters are all fiery, I suppose, so there always seem to be sparks going off in every direction. No matter who you’re interacting with, they’re people, so there are sparks. But I don’t know if they’re romance sparks, friendship sparks or just people sparks. They’re maybe just two strong personalities rubbing off one another, but who knows?
TVLINE | I took it as sort of the show’s way of chemistry-testing you and Camilla Luddington together.
It didn’t feel like a test to me, it felt like it made sense in terms of their situation, Cormac being the chief of pediatric surgery and having [Jo’s future daughter] Luna as a patient. It just felt like an evolution of the story.
TVLINE | You mentioned speaking with Krista about the overall arc of the season. How would you describe its tone, especially after the dark days of Season 17?
Last season was hard. We were dealing with a really difficult time and logistical difficulties as well — obviously, we were in masks and [protective gear] the whole time. I didn’t find it easy in terms of performance because you’re almost behind a wall the whole time. This season, we’re dealing with an alternate universe where COVID has been dealt with and is now gone. I find a huge amount of freedom not having to wear masks in scenes. Just as an actor, being able to really interact with one another feels easier.
TVLINE | And storywise?
Storywise, this feels like it’s more back to normal in terms of the Grey’s universe — all of the ups and downs, romances and friendships, and then the drama within the hospital and everything to do with the medical cases we have to deal with. It feels kind of like we’re back to normal. It’s full-on. When Krista was laying it out to me, I was pretty surprised by a lot of things, so it should be a fun one.
See just how close “Mermac” have gotten since last we caught up with them in the above photo gallery of Season 18 images. Then hit the comments with your take on the potential couple.