'Grey's Anatomy': Kim Raver Teases Big Cliffhanger, How Ellen Pompeo's 'Impact' Is Still Felt (Exclusive)

The actress talks to ET about making her 'Grey's Anatomy' directorial debut and says the episode ends on a 'fantastic cliffhanger.'

Kim Raver may be the new hospital chief on Grey's Anatomy, but she's also stepping behind the camera for the first time on the ABC medical drama to lead Thursday's episode.

"I had the best time," the Grey's veteran told ET's Rachel Smith in New York City on Thursday. "It was hilarious, at one point I had my fake walkie talkie as Teddy, chief. And then I had my real walkie talkie to talk to the crew as director. It just felt very much like I was imitating Teddy but as me. But directing this cast and having this amazing crew was really, it was a dream for me. And Debbie Allen was my mentor, is my mentor."

Raver has been with the franchise for nine seasons, with a years-long break in between, and the 54-year-old actress shared that getting the opportunity to direct a Grey's episode isn't a given. "I think people will feel like, 'Oh, you're on Grey's, you'll get to direct,' and you really have to earn it with [Debbie], which is amazing. I really had to go through all of the steps and learn from her and it was literally like 'Training Day,'" Raver said, referencing the title of her episode. "And that's what I felt like in order to get there. Thank God because this episode is huge."

In the hour, Kate Walsh returns as Dr. Addison Montgomery to lead Bailey's new OB/GYN trainees. Meanwhile, Maggie's lung transplant is derailed and Nick bonds with Lucas -- all before the day takes a shocking turn when the hospital goes under lockdown after a violent standoff between anti-abortion and abortion rights supporters. As the dramatic teaser warns, "No doctor is safe."

"It's pretty intense. It's definitely not an episode that you want to miss. There's this fantastic cliffhanger," Raver teased. "I got to design how I wanted the episode to go out and I sort of take it to the edge. It's really exciting."

The actress also dished on having her character, Teddy Altman, take over for Meredith Grey as the new chief at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. "Chief Teddy Altman. I like seeing that on the door," Raver admitted.

"I think its great," she later said. "Look, I know Teddy made some big and bad choices in her life and it's funny, some people say to me, 'Do you hate that Teddy made all of these mistakes?' And I'm [like], no, I love it. It means that she's flawed and that she's human, and I think that Shonda Rhimes and Krista Vernoff and Debbie [Allen] and everyone advocated for these characters being real and normal and human and making mistakes. And us watching Teddy evolve from that past where she was learning and falling on her face to evolving into this new better version of herself."

"I'm sure that she's going to have the mishaps of making mistakes, but I love that we get to watch Teddy evolve from not making great choices in her life to evolving into being chief at the hospital," Raver continued. "So its a fun journey and I think that there's so many stories that we're going to be able to tell with them. And I also love working with the new interns."

Liliane Lathan/ABC

She also noted that Teddy's new power position puts her marriage with Owen under a new microscope and that it will be "a really interesting thing to explore."

"I think it'll be interesting to see two people of power in a relationship and how is that going to kind of coexist?" Raver noted. "It's also interesting to see a relationship that has been through so much to see on screen how they keep evolving. I feel like in most television shows, it's a love triangle or they’re pining for one another or they’re in this mad breakup. Isn’t it interesting to see how they’re going to evolve together as a couple with this incredible base of everything they've gone through together?"

As for Raver's thoughts on when viewers will see Ellen Pompeo pop back in again on Grey's, she threw out the possibility of an update of how she's doing on the East Coast.

"We might see her in Boston coming up, we might not," Raver offered, reminding everyone that Pompeo is still very much around as she continues to supply voiceovers for subsequent episodes and continue her executive producer duties.

"I see her on set," she shared. "Just the other day, I saw her... biking through the stages. When I was editing, she did the voiceover, so she’s still there. She still has a real impact on the show."

Raver also addressed Kelly McCreary's exit as Dr. Maggie Pierce, whose last appearance as a series regular will air April 13.

"I'm gonna miss her so much," the actress confessed. "She is such a talent and such a wonderful human being, but at the same time I'm so excited for her. I think she has so many incredible roles and adventures [to come]. We're all so sad to see her go, but we are so excited for her 'cause I just think she’s going to take off with her talent."

Asked how long she sees Grey's going, Raver was enthusiastic about continuing on for the foreseeable future.

"Oh, let's keep on going!" she said. "We would all love season 20. There feels something very momentous about a season 20."

Raver added that she doesn't believe it's time yet for Grey's to close up shop: "I don't feel that way. I just feel like there’s [something] inherently in Greys Anatomy and the amazing way to tell human stories and I feel like that just can keep going. We have all these new, young interns and there’s so many stories to be told with them and I love them in contrast with the attendings."

"I think its longevity can keep going because the stories are ever-evolving," she said.

Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.


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