Unveiling a new character is never easy, the audience seldom welcomes them with open arms, especially a character that will shake up a show’s dynamic. People tend to side with the protagonist, even if the protagonist in this case is being outrageously stubborn by not loving their extraordinarily talented, new half sister. Surprisingly though, people did the opposite on the Shonda Rhimes juggernaut, GREY’S ANATOMY, people loved her.
Rhimes has this vagrant way of unleashing new characters on her audience at the drop of a hat. If it were any other producer on any other show this wouldn’t work, but because she is the best at what she does it did more than just work, it soared.
At the very end of last season’s finale we were introduced to Ellis (Kate Burton) and Richard’s (James Pickens Jr.) dark and twisty secret, that the two of them had had a child many, many years ago. We learned early on this season that Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) had no knowledge of her half sister, or that Richard was the father. When it became known that Dr. Margaret Pierce was indeed the daughter of Ellis Grey and Richard Webber, Meredith refused the idea of it and projected all of her hate and frustrations out on Maggie. Meredith looked to Alex (Justin Chambers) and tequila for validation in her attempts to deny Maggie’s relation but the facts lined up and proved Maggie was indeed her half sister.
Not since Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) has a Grey Sloan Memorial hire made such an impact. Maggie is an exceptional surgeon and an irreproachable addition to the team. With Cristina’s (Sandra Oh) absence Maggie’s presence couldn’t have come at a better time.
Kelly McCreary ferociously attacks the role of Dr. Pierce and is nothing short of mesmerizing. Her likable and charming nature is addictive and something the show had been missing for quite some time.
I had the pleasure of speaking with the exceptionally gifted actress about her new role as Dr. Maggie Pierce, the strong, brilliant, and lovable secret daughter of Ellis Grey and Richard Webber. We spoke about her characters relationship with Meredith, her initial reaction to finding out about her characters legendary parents, and what we can look forward to on tonight’s episode.
You were so great on EMILY OWENS M.D. Did you find it easier to transition into GREY’S ANATOMY with already knowing some of the medical lingo from EMILY OWENS?
Kelly McCreary: A little bit, I guess I wasn’t quite as intimidated. I certainly knew how to approach learning the language, because on EMILY OWENS. I felt like could not memorize those words unless I knew exactly what they meant, what the body parts looked like, and I knew what I was talking about. I guess it did prep me a little bit.
I thought the episode that aired a few weeks ago where Maggie was the focus was just fantastic. It was such a nice way to ease the audience into your character rather than tell the audience “here’s Meredith’s new sister you have to like her,” Do you think peoples opinion of Maggie changed after that episode?
I try not to pay too close attention to anything but the positive feedback. It can be a little bit toxic sometimes so I’m not really sure how they were to begin with. I thought it was really brave of the writers to give Maggie that whole episode. I felt like the audience had to like Maggie, they were going to spend a whole hour with her. I’m glad they got on board with it and didn’t turn off their TV’s and tried to hear her perspective and warm up to her a little bit. I’m really happy about that. I think she’s great, she’s so dynamic and a woman that I would like to know.
What was your initial reaction to finding out that Maggie is Richard and Ellis’s daughter?
I was really psyched, I mean I didn’t know anything about the character when I auditioned for it and at my meeting with Shonda after I had already taken the job, she filled me in and I thought, wow this is a lot of responsibility. I felt really honored to be the one to accept the challenge. I was really surprised but then I was even more surprised by how shocked the audience was. How no one saw the existence of this character coming and that was really, really fun for me to set off that kind of reaction. I’ve never had a character do that before, it was awesome.
What was the cast’s reaction during the table read?
Oh my God! I think that that scene happened two pages before the episode ends, there was an eruption in the room. People could not contain themselves we had to sort of hold things for a minute or two. It was so fun, everyone was like “I didn’t see that coming ” that was thrilling. It was really, really exciting, all of the reactions towards her.
Do you see Maggie getting along well with any certain doctor in particular? It seems like every doctor is coupled off at the moment and there aren’t many that are open to new friendships or relationships?
Yeah, I think that little connection we saw between Maggie and Amelia. There is a lot of potential there. I would love to see that relationship, particularly with these hotshot siblings in the hospital.
How do you think Derek will react to finding out about Meredith’s new sister?
He’s got so much on his plate right now. It might come as a surprise. I think Derek will have a different response than Meredith.
I’m sure most viewers will agree with me in that I am dying to meet Maggie’s parents! Do you think we will we get to see Maggie’s parents this season? Is that something you would like to see?
(Laughs) I honestly don’t know the answer to that question but I really hope so. I’m with you guys! Hopefully if I talk about it enough in interviews it will get back to the writing team.
Do you see Maggie and Meredith getting along some time in the near future?
I do. I think they got off to such a bad start, how could it possibly get any worse. (Laughs) It has to get better going forward. I do see them trying to feel each other out. After starting out with mistrust and animosity it has to improve.
Shonda said early on that this season focuses a lot on Meredith as well as Callie and Arizona’s relationship. What’s in store for Callie and Arizona?
I think the best thing to say is something that’s already been said, we’ve seen Callie and Arizona go through a lot and come up with a lot of small fixes, hopefully we can expect a big fix in whatever form that takes them,. Hopefully they will stop putting more band-aids and deal with systemic issues in the relationship.
We haven’t seen much from April & Jackson so far this season. Do you think they will face some challenges when she is further along in her pregnancy?
Having a baby is a big challenge in and of itself; it could be parenting challenges or pregnancy challenges. That’s going to definitely stir things up in their relationship.
If you could have Maggie work with any doctor ever on the show, past or present who would it be?
Honestly I think Richard Webber is a really great balance for Maggie because she’s hungry to learn and he’s a great teacher. He is such a kind, warm, open, spirit and she’s so type A and she’s got her blinders on when it comes to her career. He would be a great balance for her.
What can you tell us about this week’s episode?
I am so excited to see the flashbacks I think the audience will be so satisfied by the story, the mystery of how Ellis could have had this baby without Meredith or Richard ever knowing. We go back in time and actually get to see these scenes play out between young Richard and young Ellis and have this mystery solved. I think it will be really healing for both Maggie and Meredith to know what really happened.
You can watch Kelly on GREY’S ANATOMY tonight at 8:00 on ABC. You can also follow her on twitter at @KMcCrearyNYC