Chandra Wilson recently celebrated a momentous occasion. No, we're not talking about the impending nuptials between her character Bailey and boyfriend Ben (Jason George). The original Grey's Anatomy castmember stepped behind the camera for the seventh time to direct this Thursday's episode, which includes a story line that she not only pitched, but also hits very close to home for the 43-year-old actress.
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Below, Wilson discusses taking another spin in the director's chair, as well as whether Ben and Bailey will actually make it down the aisle — not if Bailey has a say in it! — and what's in store for the returns of Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) and Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw). Get the scoop:
What made directing this episode different compared to the past ones?
Chandra Wilson: Actually, this was the first year, nine seasons in, where I kind of made a pitch for a story line before the season started and they've picked up on that story line. Basically what it has to do with is cyclic vomiting syndrome, which is something that my daughter started going through two seasons ago. I was directing and going back and forth to Children's Hospital LA trying to get a diagnosis for my daughter and since then she's been on the recovery end of it. ... It's so prevalent, and a lot of people are suffering with it, and just don't have a name for it, don't have a diagnosis. The fact that we're going to be able to have a character who finds out that that's what they have, that it has a name ... that's going to make somebody sitting at home watching Grey's Anatomy go, "Oh my God, that's me!"
What else can you tell us about this episode that you're directing?
Wilson: There's also fun stuff in there. This is my seventh time with Grey's, so I get to have the return of Cristina Yang to Seattle Grace, as well as some cool and sexy stuff with April (Sarah Drew) and Jackson (Jesse Williams), as well as trying to reintroduce Arizona Robbins, to get off her behind and come back to the hospital. It's a spur-of-the-moment idea that comes to Bailey, to get Arizona involved. She doesn't quite know where it's going to go.
What can you tell us about Ben and Bailey's upcoming wedding?
Wilson: She's moving along, you'll see. The next couple of episodes, it's almost like pulling a tugboat to get her to cooperate, but the thing is happening with or without her, and she's got to get on board with the program at some point. Bailey can be distracted very easily, and she's already been married and done it in what she thought was the right way. It failed, so there's a lot of fear going into it again.
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Will we get to see a bachelorette party for her and what does that look like?
Wilson: That would mean that she would have to come out of denial to have a bachelorette party. I think you're going to see a lot of Bailey in the hospital because that's her stomping ground. That's where she feels the most validated. Getting her out of the hospital is the hard part.
Because everyone she cares about is in the hospital, does her wedding party consist of familiar doctors?
Wilson: I love that you called it a wedding party. Just getting her to the altar is the miracle. Actually in an episode, there's a very interesting way in which she coaxes her colleagues into being her "wedding party," just as indirect as she possibly can be, but it's in classic Bailey fashion.
How are Ben and Bailey dealing with the distance?
Wilson: They're not, which is another problem for her. It doesn't make any sense that she's getting married, and he's not even living in the same city that she's in, but he's all hell-bent. He wants a big old wedding and splashy and all of that. Just the whole thing to her really doesn't make any sense, so she has to grapple with, "Okay, well what's important here? Do you want to be happy or do you not?" She's got to make that choice, and it's just very, very hard for her to make the choice to be happy, even if it looks unconventional. She gets kicked in the butt from Dr. Webber (James Pickens Jr.), of course, and she also gets an interesting kick in the butt from Dr. Cristina Yang and from Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez).
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Speaking of Cristina, how does Bailey feel about having her back?
Wilson: She is able to acknowledge there's something different about her. That's the through-line of this season: Watching our old interns, now that they are attendings, watching them teach. So Bailey's in an interesting perspective to see one of her babies old enough to teach and that's really fascinating to her, the kind of teacher she is. There were some that you thought would have been great and others that you thought would have sucked, and there are some things about Cristina that have come as a surprise to Bailey.
What do you think will surprise viewers about the upcoming episodes?
Wilson: You know what's going to be interesting? Watching the progression of the April/Jackson relationship, the will-they-won't-they. We get to watch that for a while. Watching the kind of doctor, I think, that Cristina Yang has become is really interesting. The relationship between her and Owen (Kevin McKidd) has always been a hot mess, but they're going to behave in interesting ways that I don't think we would expect. Then we've got the whole lawsuit, which really starts to blow up in this [Thursday's] episode. Where is that going to take all of the participants, and who's going to ultimately end up with the blame for the accident? I think that's going to also come in as a surprise.
Are you excited about Ben and Bailey's wedding? Hit the comments!
Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9/8c on ABC.