T.R. Knight: “There’s So Much I Learned From ‘Grey’s Anatomy’”
“This has been a thrilling secret to keep!” Shonda said in July, when T.R.’s role was first announced. “One of my favorite family members is home!”
T.R. was equally thrilled. “I am heartened to be returning to Shondaland and excited to work with this exceptional cast,” he said.
But T.R. and Shonda must not have been tight when he left Grey’s at the end of Season 5, citing a “breakdown of communication” between him and Shonda about George, particularly with the doc having little to do that season.
“My five-year experience proved to me that I could not trust any answer that was given [about George],” he told Entertainment Weekly in his exit interview. “And with respect, I'm going to leave it at that.”
Talking to EW now, T.R. says he wasn’t nervous to return to Shondaland.
“Excitement would be the word I would use, but not nervousness about it,” he says. “Because that was eight years ago, it was just excitement I had about it.”
The 43-year-old also says he didn’t need any closure with the showrunner.
“What’s the opposite of closure, ‘opensure’?” he laughs. “I know that’s not a word — is it? But no, we had emailed, of course, and I saw her at the first table read [in August 2016].”
T.R. says that table read was the first time seeing his former boss in years.
“Both she and [executive producer] Betsy Beers were there, and it was incredibly emotional, surprisingly emotional — in a great way — to see them and hug them,” he says.
“Since then, Shonda and I have had a meal together, so it’s been fantastic. It leaves me with a very grateful and thankful heart to be invited back.”
Don’t watch The Catch hoping to see this Emmy nominee play George all over again, though. His new character — Tommy Vaughan, brother of protagonist Alice Vaughan — is totally different.
“To me, they’re on opposite ends of the scale,” T.R. says.
“With George, and I loved playing him so much, but he just tried so hard to be good, to do the right thing, and he constantly failed miserably.
“He really wanted to be a moral person, but then he ended up having affairs, hurting people, and doing the wrong thing.
“With Tommy, there’s a level of selfishness there that George does not have at all.”
Meanwhile, T.R. says he has “checked in a couple times” on Grey’s since his exit, though he doesn’t know plot points like why Seattle Grace became Grey Sloan Memorial. He even quips he’d need a three-week bout of bronchitis to catch up.
“It’s been on longer than I was on it at this point!” he observes. “It doesn’t seem like that much time has passed.”
All told, even with its highs and lows, the actor seems to think of his five-year run on Grey’s fondly.
“There were so many wonderful experiences,” he says.
“[After] doing so much theater, to be able to spend five years with some really remarkable people, and also get to constantly explore acting in front of a camera for that time, there’s so much I learned from [Grey’s] as a person, and also just as an actor … I’m really grateful that it informs everything.”
Grey’s Anatomy Season 13 airs Thursdays at 8 p.m ET on ABC.
Check out more of Wetpaint’s coverage of Grey’s Anatomy below:
Grey’s Anatomy Family Tree: How All 28 Docs Are Related (PHOTOS)
13 Most Heartbreaking Grey’s Anatomy Season Finale Moments (PHOTOS)
22 Grey’s Anatomy Characters’ First (and Last) Words
Can You Tell Which Grey’s Anatomy Actor Is Older?
Meet the Grey’s Anatomy Cast’s 26 Kids!