Sandra Oh Reveals ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Stardom Led to Insomnia and Body Aches

Photographs by Alexi Lubomirski

When “Grey’s Anatomy” premiered in 2005, it catapulted the ensemble of actors playing the Seattle Grace Hospital staff to fame. For Sandra Oh, who played Cristina Yang on the series for 10 years, that spotlight came with downsides for her own health.

The acclaimed actor opened up about the effects that her sudden “Grey’s Anatomy” fame had on her health during a VarietyActors on Actors” conversation, presented by Apple TV+, with “Squid Game” breakout star Jung Ho-yeon. According to Oh, the experience of suddenly being in the limelight caused her to experience serious health effects while she was filming the ABC medical drama.

“Honestly, I got sick. I think my whole body was very, very sick. Even though you keep on working, but it’s just like, ‘Oh, I can’t sleep. Oh, my back hurts, I don’t know what’s wrong with my skin,'” Oh said during the conversation with Ho-yeon.

Oh shared the experience when Ho-yeon asked her how she handled navigating public attention. However, Oh noted that their experiences were both very different, with Oh’s pre-dating the rise of social media.

“When ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ came, I think my life changed very much,” Oh told Ho-yeon. “It’s tricky to imagine, because this is almost 20 years ago. So the context is very different. But the stress is the same, or the confusion is the same … when people are in extremely amazing, privileged, heavy responsibility positions like this. Your personal health is, I think I realized, came first.”

When reflecting on her experiences with “Grey’s,” Oh told Ho-yeon that she learned that she needed to be happy with herself in order to be at peace in the spotlight.

“I learned that I had to take care of my health first,” Oh said. “But that’s not only your body. That is your soul. That is definitely your mind. So even those things like doubt, question. ‘Cause you can’t, ultimately, depend on anyone else. You have to somehow find it within yourself. You ask people’s opinions, yes of course, but ultimately, we are alone with ourselves.”

Watch the full “Actors on Actors” conversation between Ho-yeon and Sandra Oh below.