The Doctor is Out: Amy Brenneman Reflects on Six Seasons of PRIVATE PRACTICE

amy brenneman private practice

Perfectly timed to coincide with tonight’s series finale of PRIVATE PRACTICE, recently had the privilege of checking in with Dr. Violet Turner. Better known as star Amy Brenneman, the affable actress was only too happy to take a trip down memory lane, dish on what she assures us will be a very satisfying series ender and what’s next for the in demand actor. See for yourself, after the jump.

One hundred and nine episodes, especially in this day and age is quite an amazing feat. Describe what you’re feeling as you reflect on these past six years.
Amy Brenneman: You know, my emotions are of two parallel tracks. One is the show, the characters and what we got to do with them thanks to the writing. While the other is the behind-the-scenes stuff. When you work on a TV show, you spend so much time with hundreds of cast and crew and over the course of six years, life happens. People have babies, get married, divorced, parents die, so that’s really what got me. Especially when I was hugging people on the last day of shooting on set. No joke, it’s like breaking up a family.

There was a lot of talk at the start of the season that the show could continue after Kate Walsh’s mid-season exit. Was that something you were hoping to have seen happen?
I wasn’t afraid of ending. I know, fear might be the wrong word, but for people like Kadee [Strickland] and Paul [Adelstein], people that haven’t been involved with the end of a series, it can be disorienting. This is the second time I ended a series after a six year run and I think the first time, you’re like, “Oh My God! What’s going to happen next?” But, you don’t want to stay at a party too long, you want to make sure every episode you put out there is pretty darn good, so I’ve been kind of zen about it. Knowing that Kate was going to leave in December, I did think there would be a little bit of a restructure, and honestly, I think especially this season they had taken great pains to make her part of ensemble that could have continued, but again it was Shonda’s call, and the let’s be honest, the Networks.

How does this finale compare with your previous one on JUDGING AMY?
Would you believe I have never actually been a part of a finale! JUDGIN AMY wasn’t a proper finale and on NYPD BLUE I was long gone, I had never done this before! With JUDGING AMY it was funny because at the beginning of the sixth year, I kind of thought this would probably be our last year so I worked with the writers with an ending in mind. Yet as the season progressed, the ratings were pretty good which left us planted firmly on the bubble. The result was that we had to write something that was a little bit bigger deal than a usual season finale, but we didn’t get to end the show properly. With PRIVATE PRACTICE we had the opportunity — the privilege — to say goodbye on the set before everybody disbanded, so this has been pretty cool.

Are you pleased with how Violet’s journey ends?
I’m happy. Without giving too much away, I think everyone else gets coupled up. So when I kind of smelled that I said to Shonda, for a couple of reasons [PRIVATE PRACTICE creator Shonda Rhimes], “Can we not couple up Violet?” One, we hadn’t been building towards a relationship so it would have felt sort of random, and two, I thought there are a helluva lot of dignified single people out there. And I think that Violet’s realization, one that she articulates, is that she’s not actually good at relationships. She’s a good mother, friend and professional person, but the suffering for her comes from her thinking that she should want to, or be in a relationship. In choosing to remain single, I see her as very free and evolved actually.

Finales are tough in the sense that what the showrunner wants is often very different from what the audience is hoping for. Is tonight’s finale one that will leave fans satisfied, or is it one that takes a page from, say, THE SOPRANOS?
It’s a nice ending. I mean Shonda, through violet weirdly, is talking to her audience in a very clear and loving way. What’s more, Shonda has always been extremely respectful and appreciative of the affection her fans have with the show and she doesn’t mess with that.

What do you think the legacy of this show will be when audiences look back five, event ten years from now. What do you hope people remember?
Well, this might sound like sour grapes but I think PRIVATE PRACTICE was a lot better than people gave it credit for. First we were the stepchild of GREY’s, now we are the middle child because of SCANDAL and I think that people initially sort of dismissed us in a way. It also took us a while to find our feet, those first few episodes, as a result of the writer’s strike, are quite a different than what we ended up with and I really love Shonda for being transparent with that process. In the end, what we ended up with is a bunch of people in their late 30’s and 40’s struggling with serious medical stuff in a smart self-deprecating way all while wearing five inch heels!

So what you’re saying is that you didn’t miss that talking elevator from the show’s pilot?
[Laughs] I’m going to take the fifth on that! It’s funny, because as a producer/creator type I completely understood the show’s journey even if it was somewhat awkward. Which was, Kate Walsh has this mad talent, she’s funny as all get out and Shonda Rhimes really loved her and thought to build a show around her so that Kate’s able to do more stuff. But those first couple of episodes, it wasn’t Addison, it was an entirely different show. So the question became, does Addison stay consistent from the character fan’s fell in love with on GREY’s, or you just create a comedy for Kate, which is definitely on my to-do list… I’m not kidding!

The series finale of PRIVATE PRACTICE airs Tuesday January 22 at 10PM on ABC (CityTV in Canada)

For all the latest TV news and reviews

  • Devin McMusters

    How about a Judging Amy tv movie? I can’t stand to not have Amy Brenneman on my television! I guess I’ll have to tape the Judging Amy reruns on GMC.