'Grey's Anatomy': Camilla Luddington Hopes Fans 'Embrace Other Characters' Following Cast Exits (Exclusive)
By Philiana Ng
Grey's Anatomy's Camilla Luddington is just as curious as you are to see how season 15(!) will go after a cast shake-up.
The season 14 finale saw the emotional departures of longtime series regulars Sarah Drew and Jessica Capshaw, who exited the ABC medical drama as April Kepner and Arizona Robbins, respectively. Both characters ended their arcs on a happy note, with April getting married and opting to leave Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital to help the homeless, and Arizona relocating to New York City to be closer to her daughter, help open a new clinic and possibly rekindle a romance with her ex-wife, Callie Torres.
"The one thing that I've seen in the six seasons that I've been on the show is there's always an influx of new characters and always characters leaving. I think that it'll be interesting," Luddington tells ET during a sit-down at San Diego Comic-Con. "It always changes the dynamic of each season, so it'll be interesting to see how it does change the dynamic of next season and what that means for certain characters that were especially close to those characters, like Jackson. Where does it lead his story? It'll be an interesting journey next season to see what it's like without those two characters."
But Luddington admitted that Drew and Capshaw's exits felt "different." "Just because I'm very close to those two actresses. For me, they're some of my best friends; they're so talented that I'm excited to see what they go and do next," she says, adding that the upcoming 15th season feels like a new chapter for many of the characters. "I hope the fans can embrace other storylines and other characters that we bring on, and Grey's continues to be something fun for them to watch."
"Whenever you're going to be saying goodbye to beloved characters, the fandom will always be upset, but honestly, what that shows to me is a passion and they love them so much, and the writers did an amazing job because people are so invested in them. And that's why they feel that way," Luddington continues. "But seasons do change and I'm interested to see where season 15 goes."
Looking ahead, Luddington revealed that the theme for the upcoming season will be "the season of love," appropriate considering Jo Wilson (Luddington) and Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) finally tied the knot in the season 14 finale after years of ups and downs. "There will still be that element of romantic comedy with our drama, but that humor will still be present in season 15, too," she hints, confirming that season 15 kicks off "right where we left off" and without a dramatic time jump.
"I know that with Alex and Jo, they'll be navigating newlywed territory together. I don't know what that means necessarily, but they're probably going to be a hot mess at some point," she says with a laugh. "Just look at their wedding. They always are -- it's their M.O."
Things may get complicated fast for the couple, as Jo declared her intentions to take the fellowship in Boston, Massachusetts, with Alex possibly in tow. Luddington confessed that she hadn't yet read the script for the first episode (which began filming this week), but offered her own questions about how the Boston mystery (surely, Jo can't be on the East Coast for the entire season!) resolves itself. "I don't know how if she ends up in Boston for a while. I don't know, if she comes back Grey Sloan, how she comes back. It'll be interesting to see that," she says, confirming one little nugget about Jo's professional career: "But this is the season she'll pick her specialty, finally."
As for what Luddington wants to see Jo and Alex face together as a married couple in the new season, she has one request: No "Jolex" babies anytime soon!
"I would like them to hold off having a kid for a little bit and enjoy newlywed-ness. I joked about them maybe adopting a dog and testing the waters in that way," Luddington says, chuckling at the thought. "Can they even keep a fish alive together? I don't know! I really have no idea!"
And it appears a true friendship between Jo and Meredith is starting to blossom, which Luddington hopes to explore further.
"I've enjoyed that dynamic. I've felt for a while and it was written for a while that Jo was just Alex's girlfriend, but now [Meredith]'s investing in her in a professional way. I think that that's very exciting for Jo, and we see that Meredith is someone she absolutely looks up to," she says. "She does love Alex, so I think Jo would've always hoped to have been friends with Meredith. There was a definite turning point there when Matthew Morrison came on [as Jo's abusive ex, Paul]. I felt like Meredith could have potentially believed him, not necessarily knowing Jo very well, and she didn't. That meant a massive amount to Jo. I think Jo felt like she always had to explain herself to people and she had figured that no one would trust her side, and the fact that [Meredith] did and there didn't even need to be any questions asked? That was a massive turning point."
But there is one lesson she's taken from playing Jo for six seasons and counting. "Don't judge a book by its cover. For the first seven or eight episodes, I didn't know Jo's background. Her nickname was 'Princess' and I was kind of thinking that she was that way," Luddington says. "Slowly, but surely we sort of uncovered elements and struggles about her. That's what I've learned, is that you never know what someone's background is or what they've been through. And jumping to conclusions isn't a great thing. That's probably something I've learned because she has a lot of trauma in her past that she doesn't give away."
If there's one looming question Luddington would like Jo to investigate this season is to "find her family," she says. "As much as she might not even say that she wants to, I can't imagine -- knowing her now and having played her for so long -- that that isn't something she wants answers to."
But Luddington assured fans she's in it for the long haul and doesn't foresee an end date for Grey's anytime soon. "I don't see it either," she admits. "There's still so much to explore for every single character on the show. I don't foresee an end happening yet. And with the fandom so passionate and watching, I think it'll keep going for a little ways."
Luddington was in San Diego to promote the fall release of the latest Lara Croft video game, Square Enix's Shadow of the Tomb Raider, for which she provided the voice, facial expressions and performance capture for the eponymous heroine. It's a character she's played for nearly a decade.
"It's been the longest character I've ever played. I feel like she's part of me at this point," Luddington says of playing Lara Croft. "It's been this amazing job to have gotten because it's worked around everything, whether it's Californication or True Blood or Grey's Anatomy, I've managed to always hop in and do Tomb Raider. It's been such a pleasure to be able to have gotten to do all of it."
The English actress has a deep affinity for Lara and it's clear when she speaks about the character's evolution over the three video games she's been a part of, which include the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot and 2015's Rise of the Tomb Raider.
"In [Shadow of the Tomb Raider], what we get to see is she's lost herself in her own journey, and in her quest to seek answers about Trinity, she's slowly becoming a person she didn't think she would ever become," notes Luddington, who admits she's an "embarrassingly bad" gamer. "She's struggling internally with whether the choices she's making are right or wrong anymore. It's been a very long journey of this girl trying to survive to now maybe her becoming maybe the enemy herself. She's an interesting heroine in this game because there are times where she does cross the line and she questions herself. It's been a very interesting journey to play as an actress."
Though Luddington is primarily known to the masses for her television work, most recently Grey's, she expressed appreciation and gratefulness to be a member of the gaming community. "It's introduced me to a completely different fandom than anything else I've been working on," she says. "Because I've been doing it for so long now, I feel like every single new game that we end up doing, there's more people finding Tomb Raider and there's more people introduced to Lara Croft. And when I go to events like Comic-Con, I recognize familiar faces now and I meet new fans. For me, the best part of playing Lara is actually getting introduced to that fandom because they're so excited and it makes your work day -- even if it pushes you emotionally and physically -- it makes it so pleasurable because you know that they're going to be so excited to see the game."