Brooke Smith by Ron Tom/ABC Brooke Smith by Ron Tom/ABC

You know I'm not one to toot my own horn, but given what just transpired on Grey's Anatomy, I believe a little toot's in order. Last July, shortly after Isaiah Washington received his pink slip, yours truly very publicly recommended Seattle Grace's on-again, off-again heart doc Erica Hahn (played to steely perfection by Brooke Smith) for the now-vacant position of top cardiothoracic surgeon. And sure enough, on last night's Grey's - three months since that high-profile endorsement ran in TV Guide magazine - the Chief offered Hahn the job. Cynics would say the idea of Hahn replacing Burke wasn't that much of a stretch considering, well, she'd subbed for him before. But cynics be damned, I'm taking the credit and no one's going to stop me! To be fair, a share of the props also belongs to Smith, who, after years of toiling as a Grey's guest star, will now finally become a full-fledged series regular. To commemorate the milestone, Smith sat down with me to discuss her promotion, offer a sneak peek at what lies ahead for Dr. Hahn, and answer the question on everyone's mind: Is she or isn't she?

Congratulations!
Brooke Smith:
Thanks!

You must've had an idea this was coming.
Smith:
Honestly, I wasn't expecting it, [probably] because I didn't want to be disappointed if it didn't happen. I thought it was really cool when you [floated the idea], because I thought, "Wow, I didn't even think of that!" And literally a couple days after we spoke, they called.

Did they come right out and offer a full-time gig? Or were they just offering another guest spot?
Smith:
No, it was, "Hey, can you come full-time?" Thank god. I couldn't handle any more dabbling. It's too much. [ Mock anguish] I feel like I want someone to commit to me already!

What was your first reaction?
Smith:
You know, we were kind of excited. [ Laughs] I say "we" because my husband and I were like, "Wow, OK." We had just finished [renovating our apartment] in New York, and put down a deposit on school for our little girl. But, aside from that, we just said, "All right, I guess we're moving to L.A. for a little while." But we're going back to New York at the end of this.

Do you like that Dr. Hahn is a little bit of an antagonist?
Smith:
Yeah. I've heard people say [Dr. Hahn] is abrasive. [Laughs] Dr. Hahn is a workaholic and she's very professional and, you know, I think she feels that there should be professionalism at work, and when other people do things that aren't professional she gets a little upset.

And lord knows, there are a lot of people acting unprofessional at Seattle Grace.
Smith:
There are! For god's sakes, c'mon, it's a hospital, people!

It's not a Motel 6.
Smith:
Exactly! Lord.

Since you're sticking around, I guess it's safe to assume that they're going to delve a little more into Dr. Hahn's background maybe give her a love interest?
Smith:
I think so. Honestly, as of now, there's only a little hinting. I'm getting some suggestions.

Like what?
Smith:
There might be a certain man there who's interested in me. But I don't know what Dr. Hahn will think of that. It's really interesting. I haven't worked like this before. We start shooting the next episode on Monday and I don't have a script yet. We'll get it tomorrow, and you just sort of read them out loud with everyone, and you're like, "Oh my god!" I know a little bit about her. And, certainly, I have a dialogue with the writers and I ask them questions and they sort of steer me down their same path. But I don't think anyone knows what's going to happen. The other day I joked, "I know who I'm hooking up with!" There's this surgical nurse who's always there. When she's there I'm thrilled, because she always makes me feel very real - 'cause she's a real [surgical nurse]. I turned to her at one point and said, "Are you single on the show?" She doesn't even have a name on the show and I'm already trying to hook up with her.

I can see Dr. Hahn hitting it off with Cristina.
Smith:
Secretly, we pushed for that. You know, Sandra [Oh] and I played lovers in [the off-Broadway play] Stop Kiss.

You know, there were rumors a while back that Cristina might be bisexual.
Smith:
I know. I heard those rumors.

Then it's destined to happen!
Smith:
That's what I think. But I don't know.

I think Dr. Hahn would make an awesome lesbian.
Smith:
I think so, too.

Could it happen?
Smith:
I honestly don't know. I've certainly let [the producers] know I'm open to it.

What was their reaction?
Smith:
They were like, "OK, duly noted!" I think they wanted me to shut up already.

The fact is, Seattle Grace needs a gay character.
Smith:
Well, hey, you called it that I [would be] on the show full-time, so.

Did the cast welcome you back with open arms?
Smith:
They've been great. Everybody's great. It's very comfortable which is weird. It feels like it shouldn't be, because it's such a big show.

And it hasn't always been the happiest place to work.
Smith:
I guess that was last season. I haven't seen any of that. And I didn't see it the last time I was there. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm in some sort of bubble.

Any Grey's scoop you can give me before you go?
Smith:
I heard Seth Green is coming.

Eh, that's old news. Are you going to be in scenes with him?
Smith:
Not yet. But we're doing a two-parter now, so maybe in the second part. I'm not involved with him in the first part.

Who are you involved with in the first part?
Smith:
I've been working with Dr. Sloane Izzie and Alex. And I finally got to work with Dr. Torres.

Well, this is exciting news - mostly because I predicted it.
Smith:
I know. God knows what'll happen when I hang up [this time].

Shonda Rhimes is going to call and tell you that Dr. Hahn is gay.
Smith:
Oh my god. Should I call you back if that happens?

You better!
Smith:
All right, I will. I totally will.

It's been a week since we spoke and still no word from Brooke. I still say the call from Shonda is coming and that Dr. Hahn will come bursting out of the closet at some point this season — despite Hahn's whole "I date men" comment in last night's episode. You guys with me on this? And regardless of her sexuality, are you as thrilled as I am that she's sticking around full-time? Sound off below in the comments section!