'Grey's Anatomy': Camilla Luddington Teases Moment 'More Shocking' Than Patrick Dempsey's Return (Exclusive)

The actress talks to ET about Jackson and Jo's surprising season 17 romance.

Are there more Grey's Anatomy surprises coming? After Patrick Dempsey and T.R. Knight's surprising returns, there could be more blasts from the past in store for Meredith Grey, whose condition has been worsening since being infected with COVID. So much so that her proxy, Richard Webber, made the difficult decision to enter her into the coronavirus vaccine trial. But, as Grey's star Camilla Luddington hints, there's an upcoming episode that's maybe more stunning than McDreamy's reappearance in Meredith's COVID dream.

"I just read a script, literally in the past two weeks, that completely floored me," Luddington recently told ET's Katie Krause of this mystery, jaw-dropping moment. "I had no idea and it's wild."

"This season is, honestly the season just turns everything on their head. In fact, I didn't even believe it. I was like, 'That's not real.' I was texting people! It's a crazy season. To me, it was more shocking [than McDreamy's return]. But to somebody else, it might not be. But to me, I just really did not see it coming."

Whatever that development ends up being, consider interests piqued. 

And, with the door now opened for returns of beloved characters who haven't been seen for a while, Luddington played coy when asked if there were others possibly coming back.

"It's the biggest secret of our season," she quipped, acknowledging that Meredith's late sister, Lexie, seems to be the character many fans want to see on Grey's at least once more. "I do know but I'm not going to tell. I'm not going to say yes or no either way."

Secrecy aside, Luddington's character, Jo Wilson, finds herself knee-deep in a new fling with fellow Grey Sloan doctor, Jackson Avery, which surprised many viewers when it presented itself in the season 17 premiere. Grieving the end of her marriage to Alex Karev and trying to move on, she proposed a no-strings-attached hookup with Jackson to get some of her... frustrations out. 

"I first heard about [that relationship] right before we actually shut down [in March]. We started to film some scenes and then we got shut down and then the storyline got tweaked a little bit to be a COVID sex pod is what I’m calling it. But I was really shocked. I'm excited at the same time," Luddington said. "First off, I do love working with Jesse Williams. We have a lot of fun between takes together. We enjoy it, so I was excited to do the scenes but I was also excited to see a single Jo this season and to see what she looks like as a woman out there in the world dating."

Jackson and Jo's initial try at hooking up didn't get off so smoothly, resulting in a drunk Jo breaking down. "I think that it was just a lot of feelings at once and then she was ready," Luddington said. Their second go-around ended much differently. "She wasn't drinking vodka from a bottle, which helped. There was no pressure. She put pressure on herself and there wasn’t any. With pressure off, she realized in that moment, 'Actually I'm ready.'"


Being friends with benefits always comes with a flurry of complications, especially on Grey's. Luddington said she has "mixed opinions" about whether Jo and Jackson should become serious down the line: "I think Jackson is a good guy, but I also want to see her play the field a little bit."

"Playing her right now, I believe that she believes that. Right now, that is what is happening in our season," she said. "I actually think they would be a really fun couple. They would have that banter back and forth of sort of making fun of each other, which you will see in the episode we're shooting next week. You kind of see that happening between them already, so they would be that very jokey couple with each other. Because things have already happened between them that are very intimate and vulnerable, hopefully they would be open with talking about their feelings."

As Luddington tells it, Jo is no longer in love with Alex, who peaced out of Seattle without so much as giving anyone notice, to reunite with his former flame, Izzie Stevens, and their two young children. "At this point, I don't think she's in love with him anymore," she confirmed. "That would be my guess. She's not in love with him anymore but that she was in love with the life they had and the idea of the future they had together. And I think that might be more painful to let go of for her."

And Luddington is perfectly content with not having Alex return for a proper farewell. "Can we please not have another ex-husband for Jo show up?" the actress exclaimed. "This poor girl. I just feel like how many are there? The reality is, for a lot of people, they don't get that moment [of closure] when they are speaking to their ex. So I think it's real to show that sometimes you have to move on without having the sit-down conversation. She talks about being in therapy. I actually like that she is able to work through it and it doesn't depend on whether he picks up the phone and calls her and wants to discuss it. It's a very empowering storyline for her: 'I'm going to have to figure out a way to move on.'" 

With Jo rebuilding her life and the seriousness of COVID forcing the doctors to re-evaluate what's important to them, it opens the door for her to reassess her life's priorities.

"There are a lot of elements of her life that she is reassessing this season and thinking, 'Does this make me happy? Does this not make me happy? What can I do to change that?'" Luddington said, hinting that Jo may be rethinking her career path. "There are other things she kind of questions. I think during COVID you have a lot of time to sit and think. She has a lot of time to sit and think and reassess everything."

Though there's been some fan speculation that season 17 could be the last for Grey's, Luddington believes there's "so much more Jo story to tell." "I want her, at some point, to have her family that she wants. I want her to find love again. I want her to be a badass doctor. There are so many things I want for her," she says.

Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. For more on season 17, watch the video below.

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