November 6, 2008

Just Call Him Dr. McKidd

By Kelley L. Carter

Could there be another McDreamy or McSteamy in the making?

Scottish actor Kevin McKidd, 35, plays Owen Hunt, the love interest of Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) on ABC's Grey's Anatomy, and things start to heat up between the two tonight.

"His character is an old-fashioned tortured hero," says series creator Shonda Rhimes. "I call him Heathcliff when we're talking about him in the writers' room.

"This season, all the way around, is our no-holds-barred season. We're not holding anything back. Owen Hunt is definitely apart of that."

We caught up with the actor on a break from taping an upcoming episode.

Q: How did the Grey's offer come together?

A: I was doing a movie off and on for three months (overseas), and it was my son's birthday, and I'm hardly ever in the same country on my son's birthday, so I managed to land back (in L.A.) around 2 p.m. on his birthday. I promised him, "I'm going to be there on your eighth birthday." Then I got a call from my agent, saying, "You have to turn back around because Shonda wants to meet you for this role on Grey's." I was like, "I'd love to meet her, but I can't. Can we do tomorrow?" And they're family-friendly, so they were really understanding.

As soon as I heard the pitch for the character, I was sold on it. It's a different energy and a different viewpoint. I thought it was an important story to tell, especially on a prime-time TV show. To get in there and get your hands dirty and explore what trauma surgery is like in war zones and what it's like to rehabilitate yourself to civilian life ... it's not just a new doctor showing up. It's exploring how hard it is to reintegrate yourself back into the real world after being in the war zone for three tours.

Q: One thing that stands out about your character is that he's not just a pretty boy. He's hard-core and the antithesis of the other males on the show.

A: It's not just about the look. I think what becomes attractive about these guys is that there's something about people in the medical profession that there's this strange attraction to them. Every single day they're dealing with life and death. And I think that's the thing that is attractive to people.

I think the thing about Owen that is different is that he kind of doesn't care what anybody thinks of him. He has seen really terrible trauma over and over again.

Q: How's it been on set so far?

A: I was nervous because I've only ever joined a project right at the beginning. I've always been there in the pre-production, helping set the tone. But this machine is rolling. I was slightly nervous, thinking, "Are they going to like me?" But everyone has been super, super cool.

Q: Sandra Oh's character is tough as nails, yet your character seems as if he's going to be the guy to come in and settle her down.

A: That seems to be the dynamic, yes. Between him and her, it's going to get really complex and kind of tense and explosive. He has a cloud hanging over him, and he has something going on that's dark. But I think you're right. He helps to teach her that it's not all about getting one up on everyone else.

Q: Women are rabid about the male doctors on this show. Is your wife prepared to deal with what's going to come?

A: My wife lives in blissful ignorance. She doesn't watch network TV. She's like, "What job are you doing now? Grey's Anatomy? All right, then. Fair enough." I'm probably not prepared, either. Ask me in six months. (c) Copyright 2008 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc. <>