Grey's Anatomy is notorious for killing off beloved characters (George O'Malley, Mark Sloan, Denny Duquette, to name a few)—and the ABC show is getting ready to kill off yet another major character in an upcoming episode.
But perhaps the saddest death in the primetime drama’s history has been that of Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh), who died in the season eight finale following a tragic plane crash.
Certainly, Lexie’s death was emotional for Sara Ramirez, who plays gay orthopedic surgeon Callie Torres on the hit show. “When I saw it unfold how her character was going to die, I was just like, 'really?!'" Ramirez tells Latina.com exclusively. "It was just SO hard. I cried a lot at the read-through because of that for sure."
Ramirez, who calls Leigh "a beautiful human being" and "so funny," says Leigh "cracked [her] up" on set and explains that she loved working with her on the show. But Ramirez also adds that Leigh isn’t the only former Grey’s star she misses around the set these days. "I remember hearing about Kim Raver leaving—and I LOVE Kim Raver and that made me sad—very sad,” Ramirez says. “Because I just loved working with her.”
And what about Eric Dane, the actor who played plastic surgeon Mark Sloan (Callie's on-again, off-again one-night stand)? “[Eric] and I actually entered the [Grey’s Anatomy] family at the same time—so we have a bond and he knows how I feel about him," Ramirez explains. "It’s just a lot of loss," she says, “and whenever there’s loss, it just triggers all kinds of emotions—and so you either walk through it consciously or you try to escape it, you know? (Laughs). That’s how we do it, right?"
Ramirez, who has been with Grey's for eight seasons now, says actors get just as emotional as fans when cast members leave the show. “I think there’s always some kind of emotion when you find out that someone’s leaving a show—and I tend to be a very nostalgic person, so when I see that people are leaving I think, ‘wow, it’s amazing that all of the years that have gone by, have gone by,” she says.
And speaking of loss, Ramirez says her character Callie has lost almost everyone she’s ever loved. “She lost George O’Malley, she lost Erica Hahn, she lost her mother in a sense, she lost Arizona for a little bit, and she almost lost her own life and her child’s life, and now she’s lost Mark," she explains.
But Ramirez says Callie is in a new place in her life. "In terms of just being married to a woman, having a child— she’s just in a new chapter in a way, ever since she embarked on the journey with Arizona—so I think there’s been some evolution there. So I suppose Callie will take it in stride like she takes everything else."
So how exactly has Callie changed over the years? Ramirez adds: “I think she’s more hopeful in this relationship. I think they’ve been through a lot and I think when you face your own mortality—I think that affects you differently, than say going through a grief state," she says. "We question our mortality when someone dies—when someone we know dies—but when your own life is at stake I think that’s a whole other—it’s its own very specific kind of affect is what I’m trying to say. So she’s been through that, and she has a child, which again is just a whole other journey, a whole other level of living.”
So what does Ramirez want for Callie and her future? “I would like her to continue to be really true to herself, and if that means blossoming in a different direction, a new direction of some sort, then I think that would be great!" she says. "And certainly professionally, if I were to talk professionally, I would say I would love for her to keep taking on harder and harder cases. I would love for her to work more and more with different people at the top of their game, I would love to see her succeed even more as a surgeon—and that could mean falling down and getting back up,” says Ramirez.
Asked if that means more trouble in paradise for Callie and her wife Arizona, Ramirez only offers this: “As we know, Shondaland, there’s no coincidence that her logo is a rollercoaster around a heart," she says with a laugh. "And I like to remind people of that."
Ramirez adds that, "Anything can happen and I think that the show has proven that over and over again. They can turn around and go in a different direction at any moment and take risks and that’s exciting to me. So we’ll see what happens. I’m definitely excited. Right now I’m a little concerned because things are pretty dark right now. All I hope is that Callie stays true to herself," she says.