After five seasons of being put through the emotional ringer, the good doctors of Seaside Wellness are about to face their biggest challenge to date: A move from the cushy Thursday night at 10PM post-GREY’s ANATOMY timeslot to the harsh and far less ratings friendly realm of Tuesday at 10PM. One actress who’s not nearly as worried for the future of the hit ABC series as we are is actress KaDee Strickland, who we recently had the pleasure of checking in with to talk about the challenges facing Charlotte as the show’s fifth season comes to a close, why she believes her coupling with Paul Adelstein’s Cooper has transformed the talented twosome into a fan favorite and her confidence level when it comes to PRIVATE PRACTICE seeing a sixth season. See for yourself, after the jump.
After putting in a call for questions via Twitter, it very quickly became apparent as to just how much your character has resonated with viewers over the past few seasons. What do you think it is about Charlotte and her relationship with Coop that has transformed the two into PRIVATE PRACTICE’s equivalent of GREY’S ANATOMY’s Meredith and Derek?
KaDee Strickland: You know I think it’s very real, it’s very fleshed out and the most stable relationship we have going on the show. I think there’s something that happened years ago on a chemical level with these characters that people have responded to. Certainly last year, you saw Cooper show up for Charlotte in such a really wonderful way — I can’t imagine a greater expression of love than the way that he just really stood by her after the sexual assault — and really just the man he became as a result of it and the people they became as a result of it. Then this season, after they got married, you have this child [Mason] that shows up out of nowhere and seeing these two people stick it out and really just grow and fight and love and sort of conquer these obstacles as a unit, I think that’s what people really took to. You kind of want to rally for anybody that can go through this many tough times and still be there for each other. People like to see people commit to each other and stick with each other regardless of what they’re going through.
Looking back to the start of the season, are you surprised by how big of an impact the arrival of Mason (Griffin Gluck) and his ailing mother Erica (A.J. Langer) has had — and continues to have — on Cooper and Charlotte?
Well I can tell you that for me personally a lot of that was just unfolding in front of my very eyes. As an actor these scripts kept coming and I was just continually grateful because I wanted to act with these two people because they were so good and they just really challenged me. I always believed their relationship and I always felt like when I was in a scene with them it was going to be great and that is such an incredible feeling when you’ve been playing a character for this many years, to be so excited by seeing how they’ll respond to this new set of circumstances. And so much of that came from the development of what A.J. [Langer] and what Griffin did to these two characters, they really developed them. You could have put other people in these roles and I don’t know that the storyline would have gone on this long. The writers and Shonda [Rhimes] respond to chemistry in the land of PRIVATE PRACTICE and when the chemistry is there it’s undeniable and I think that A.J. and Griffin had phenomenal chemistry as people and as characters, you believed them, you wanted to sees what happens to the family and you wanted to see how it would affect us. I felt that way with every new episode and I’m really thrilled they took it in this direction because we didn’t know where it was going to go. I’m really thrilled that Charlotte didn’t respond in the obvious way, I’m really happy that she responded from a place of love and acceptance. If this is what we’re [Charlotte and Cooper] choosing, which is to be a married couple well then I have got to deal with it and just kind of open her heart in a different way we’ve come to know her. I thought all that stuff was just so rich and so fun and you certainly transition by the end of the season into an even deeper and even more heartfelt complicated family as we’ve all become so.
One thing Cooper and Charlotte ‘shippers’ all seemed to agree upon is how much they’d love to see a pregnant Charlotte next season! Your thoughts?
I do too! I think it’s great. Certainly there’s plenty of different directions out there with how you can take the character of Charlotte becoming a natural mother because she’s already become a mother. So what happens if you throw a baby into the mix? There’s just so much you could do with that, but only Shonda knows whether or not that that will happen. It would certainly be interesting to explore if that were to happen and I would love every minute of it. But the truth is, I trust that whatever journey she takes Charlotte on is going to be one that I know I’m going to want to sign up for because it’s kind of what has been playing out for the last five years. I think it will be a total kick in the pants!
With this season being the first in PRIVATE PRACTICE’s history where a renewal isn’t a slam dunk, we’re curious as to how this upcoming fifth season finale was crafted. Does it tie up the show’s storylines in a neat bow should the unthinkable happen, or did Shonda and Co. pen a cliffhanger that demands a sixth season?
Nope. There are no nice bows in “Shondaland!” It is a total cliff-hanger and I was really excited to be this surprised by the ending. So I can tell you with great confidence that I believe we have very faithful fans and I believe they’re going to travel with us to Tuesday and I don’t worry about that stuff. I don’t tend to operate from that place either, of anticipating the worst. I really think that the people that love the show love the show and I think Shonda is an incredibly talented woman with many irons in the fire and I don’t see why she shouldn’t have them all going at the same time. So I’m pretty optimistic about that. Especially when I read the last episode and thought “Oh Boy!” So if I’m responding that way I can only imagine how the audience responses and hopefully it will be in kind, the network will hear it and we’ll be having another conversation like this next year.
Speaking of that finale, knowing full well how spoiler-phobic Shonda Rhimes is, we’re wondering if you can shed just a little light on what she has in store for the fans this coming finale? Is it Addison-centric or does it involve the entire practice?
Well I can say, and I think we’ve seen this consistently over the last five years: If it affects one character it affects them all. And I think you will certainly see all characters affected by the way the season ends.
PRIVATE PRACTICE airs Tuesdays at 10PM on ABC (CityTV in Canada). Catch up on past episodes you may have missed for free online at clicktowatch.tv