'Grey's Anatomy's' Kevin McKidd on his directorial debut: EP said, 'Don't mess it up'

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There's a lot of anticipation among fans for Thursday's (Feb. 3) episode of "Grey's Anatomy." After all, we've had to wait two weeks after Callie (played by Sara Ramirez) told Arizona ( Jessica Capshaw) that she's pregnant and with Mark's ( Eric Dane) child.

So, one would think that Kevin McKidd (who plays Owen) would feel some of that, as well. After all, Thursday's episode marks the actors first time ever sitting in the director's chair. But, he says the worst is behind him.

"I don't feel the pressure now," McKidd tells Zap2it. "Because there's nothing we can do about it. It's in the can and it's been cut and the picture is locked. I felt a lot of pressure in December while we were shooting and in January when I was editing it. But, no, weirdly I don't feel any pressure now [laughs]. The ship has sailed as they say."

We spoke with McKidd about his first time directing, what it was like to work with the cast and what the pressure was like back when he was preparing to shoot the episode.

Note: Mild spoilers!

How long have you had the desire to direct and why now?
I've had a desire to do it for years, even going back to my time in Europe. I think it's a natural transition for actors to want to direct at some point. I've had the desire for a long time. I've always been too busy as an actor. At 'Grey's,' the workload is pretty split amongst the cast. It seemed like the perfect place to do it.

What was it like balancing the acting and directing responsibilities?
Luckily for me, they wrote my episode quite light as far as for Owen Hunt. You know, Owen Hunt is basically at the dentist that day. So, I'm in one scene in the episode, which is fine by me. It gave me a chance to get my feet under me for directing. Weirdly getting into acting in the show made me feel comfortable again. It was my second day and I got to do my scene with Jim Pickens [who plays Chief Webber]. And once I was able to put the acting hat back on, I suddenly felt at ease and from that point started to have a complete blast with the directing.

Did your cast mates play any practical jokes on you?
Everyone was hugely supportive. I was amazed at how fantastic everyone was. There were times that I was directing the actors to do certain things that they didn't think their characters would do and they kind of made fun of me like when I don't like what I'm told to do. They were kind of like, 'Wow, you're asking me to do that? Really?' But all of it was in good humor. There was no hazing, which was great, and everybody kind of brought their 'A-game.' I was actually moved and touched at how supportive everyone was.

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So, this is a pretty anticipated episode. What was the pressure like?
I was lucky, because I was handed a really tight script by Mark Wilding, one of the senior writers. In fact, we have these meetings called tone meetings when the director gets notes and [EP and creator Shonda Rhimes] told me, "I love Mark's script, don't mess it up!' She used different words than 'don't mess it up.' And that was it and she called me after she saw my cut and said, 'You did a great job.' So, hopefully the fans will be okay with it.

What was your favorite scene as a director?
I really loved the montage in Act 5 that revolved around Derek's ( Patrick Dempsey) clinical trial and Callie trying to find a heartbeat for her baby. And I just think how that montage and that song ended up being a really lovely cocktail. To me if feels like the classic sort of 'Grey's Anatomy' and that's what you're going for. You're trying to emulate that feel and tone that 'Grey's Anatomy' has. 

Watch McKidd in his scene with Pickens below:



McKidd's directorial debut of "Grey's Anatomy" airs Thursday, Feb. 3 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.
Photo/Video credit: Getty Images; ABC
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