On tonight’s episode of PRIVATE PRACTICE, Cooper and Charlotte take Erica to Seattle Grace to meet with Derek, Lexie and Amelia regarding a very risky surgery. And such, we recently had the pleasure of talking with the impetus for the PRIVATE PRACTICE/GREY’S ANATOMY crossover, actress A.J. Langer, who was only to happy to dish about what it has been like returning to the small screen, the lasting mark she sees her character Erica leaving on the show and what Patrick Dempsey is really like (Spoiler Alert: Awesome!). See for yourself, after the jump.
As an actor, did you approach your guest starring role on PRIVATE PRACTICE different than some of your series regular work on such notable shows like MY SO-CALLED LIFE and EYES?
A.J. Langer: On a television show you always want to know where your place is in the machine. Everybody’s job is very important and i think it’s very important for a guest to recognize that you are there in support of. So my job is to be supportive of actors and the lead story-lines. You’re not expected to be the centre of attention, your goal is to serve the story-line as well as possible. Which, being my first job back it’s a really cool way to come in and if I were to find myself with another regular series it’s something that I’d like to take with me going forward, that perspective of serving the other story-lines.
Sticking with the theme of serving the story-line, what if any lasting mark do you think Erica will have on Charlotte and Cooper’s relationship?
I think that there’s so much that goes on with these characters off camera and off screen that you don’t see, but the part that you do see is Cooper and Charlotte and how Erica’s presence affects their relationship and their reality. And I think that the test of this has been huge for both of them and I know that for Erica finding that kind of support as a single parent with a terminal illness diagnosis is one of the most important relationship that she finds. Someone to take care of her son if she were to pass away so that relationship and the progression of it has been really great to play.
Tonight’s crossover episode will see much of the PRIVATE PRACTICE gang hightail it to Seattle Grace in an effort to enlist Dr. Shepherd’s assistance with your tumor. Is Erica aware of just the spotty Derek’s track-record has been as of late?
I don’t think Erica has really looked into his medical history! I think at this point Erica’s focus is on her son and trying to stay grounded. She’s taking a leap of faith and really trusting Charlotte and Cooper to deal with this medical nightmare.
As someone who has watched both shows, we can’t help but wonder if there is a different vibe going from the set of PRIVATE PRACTICE to the set of GREY’S ANATOMY?
It felt like a field trip with the whole school. our whole crew, everybody was giddy. We had a lot fun and Patrick [Dempsey] was very cool. I feel very lucky because I thought at the start of this that I as only going to be in three episodes. Which is the fun of episodic television, you never know what’s going to happen and the arc of this character has been so wonderful.
Just how challenging has it been to play a character diagnosed with a terminal illness. Do you find yourself bringing the character home with you?
Before I started working — having taken a few years off from the business to raise a family — I found a studio called Warner Loughlin Studio and what they taught me was a technique that I have so appreciated. It uses more creativity to develop a character separate from yourself that you can connect to and disconnect from in a healthier way. Being a mom with kids, it would be very difficult to carry around a character like Erica around with you and so working with this particular method I can jump into things having created a full reality for Erica, be there 100% and as soon as a scene is over I’m back to being AJ. It’s also been great having Griffin [Langer's on-screen son Griffin Gluck] around to because we fool around and do laps around the soundstage after intense scenes, skipping, jumping and running backwards! Also helping is the fact that everybody is so professional and very respectful on set. There was a gaffer that came up to me one day and said, “You’ve got a really emotional scene at the end of the day,” and you know for the crew to be that clued in and to have that much support meant a lot.
PRIVATE PRACTICE airs Thursdays at 10PM on ABC (CityTV in Canada) . Catch up with past episodes you may have missed for free online at clicktowatch.tv