Dr. Owen Hunt and Dr. Arizona Robbins are staples in the world of “Grey’s Anatomy,” but the actors behind the TV characters were almost cast in different roles.
Kevin McKidd and Jessica Capshaw have played Owen and Arizona, respectively, since the fifth season of Shondaland’s hit medical drama, which is heading into its 13th season, but they originally auditioned for different parts.
Capshaw first auditioned for the part of Nurse Rose, a love interest to Patrick Dempsey’s Dr. Derek Shepherd in seasons four and five, who was ultimately portrayed by actress Lauren Stamile.
“Jessica Capshaw came in for Nurse Rose,” Shondaland producer Betsy Beers revealed on Friday during her panel at the ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas. “Jessica came in for Nurse Rose and did a chemistry read with Patrick … we fell in love with Jessica Capshaw.”
Reminding the room of the character, Beers said, “Nurse Rose was a nurse who Derek (Patrick Dempsey) had a brief relationship with and it didn’t really end up going anywhere.” With a laugh, the producer added, “Nurse Rose ended up going to probably another hospital. That’s my guess. She’s probably on like ‘Chicago Med!'”
As for McKidd, he also auditioned for “Grey’s” well before actually joining the show, and Shonda Rhimes brought him back later when she developed the Owen character.
“One of the things that happens a lot in Shondaland is that we meet actors and love them, but they’re just not perfect for that part,” Beers said. “We met Kevin McKidd generally for a couple of different parts for him, until she created the role of Owen.”
Sharing one of her all-time favorite auditions, Beers brought up Katie Lowes, who now plays Quinn on “Scandal.” Beers revealed that she and Rhimes first met Lowes when she auditioned for Shondaland’s short-lived drama “Off the Map,” which aired in 2011.
“Katie Lowes, we originally met because she came in for a show called ‘Off the Map.’ She came really, really close. We loved her, but she just didn’t end up being right for the role,” Beers said. “For ‘Scandal,’ Katie Lowes came in to read for the role of Quinn. … We knew it immediately. The network and the studio all agreed we didn’t have to audition anyone else.”
Though the Shondaland team knew that Lowes got the part from the moment she walked in the room, Beers and Rhimes put Lowes through the wringer just a bit.
“We brought her in and she thought she was doing another audition,” Beers recalled. “It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen because you could see all the expressions of death and dying, but backwards, to oh-my-god to oh-my-god to tears and tears to running up to each of us and hugging us and making the slightly unfortunate statement that this was the best thing that ever happened to her — and she just got engaged.”