One of his co-stars on ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" has announced she'll be leaving the show at the end of the coming season and another races cars to add some excitement to his life, but Kevin McKidd says he's happy just where he is, thank you.
"I'm from the Highlands of Scotland...Istill can't believe — I still pinch myself — that I'm living in like Hollywood, on a TV show, playing this great character, with these amazing actors around me," said the Scottish actor at an ABC party in Beverly Hills earlier this month.
As the show returns Sept. 26, McKidd's entering his sixth season as Dr. Owen Hunt and "I just feel very lucky," he said.
We spoke before the Hollywood Reporter broke the story that Sandra Oh, who plays Dr. Cristina Yang, Owen's colleague — and sometime wife — planned to leave after the coming 10th season. But it looks as if "Grey's" creator Shonda Rhimes may have been planning for Oh's exit by giving Cristina and Owen a pretty definitive-looking breakup at the end of last season. (See clip below.)
"I've been very lucky with that character," said McKidd, who previously starred in HBO's "Rome" and NBC's "Journeyman."
"He's had many different facets and I know that in the next few seasons — speaking to Shonda — that they plan to really sort of break open Owen even more. Because we learned a bit about his time in the war, but we don't really know much about his family and the other parts of his life," McKidd said.
"So we're hopefully going to find out more about him, outside of his professionalism. But he's a great character to play, and I feel very lucky for that. It's such a gift for an actor.
"I've played a couple of great characters — in 'Rome,' the Vorenus character was an amazing character that Bruno Heller wrote for me and again, Owen Hunt feels in a similar vein, a kind of very complex and sort of dark sometimes character. He hasn't got the sheen on him that, you know, some TV characters do. And I'm always attracted by slightly darker, tortured characters."
Patrick Dempsey, who plays Dr. Derek Shepherd, the surgeon also known as "McDreamy," has, like Oh, been with "Grey's" from the beginning. A race car driver in his offscreen life, he has a four-part documentary, "Patrick Dempsey: Racing Le Mans," premiering Aug. 28, on Velocity.
"When you're in a long show, there's less discovery and more of an endurance of having to be present and to do your job and find ways to keep yourself turned on in something that you know is going to be A, B, and C. It doesn't change," he told reporters during the Television Critics Association's summer meetings.
"In a race it changes constantly. Every lap, every corner, every moment of that day is changing. And that, to me, is very exciting and keeps me alive. And then I can go back to work and enjoy it."
McKidd doesn't yet appear to require that level of excitement. (Or at least he laughed when I asked if he'd taken up skydiving. And mentioned tennis.)
"I saw some of the footage of Patrick's documentary on Le Mans, and it is amazing," he said, adding that he was interviewed for it.
"I didn't really appreciate racing car drivers, the intensity of that speed that you're hurtling yourself around the track on, demands such attention and concentration and sort of like minute, millisecond-to-millisecond concentration, to just stay on the surface. It's just such a different rhythm to the rhythm of filming," McKidd said.
"I think probably what Patrick meant is that when you're in a movie set, even when the show, when it's finished and out there, is exciting, we do 14-hour-long days and we wait for maybe 45 minutes" between scenes.
McKidd has other ways to escape.
"I'm from a wee town called Elgin, which is near Inverness," he said, adding that his parents would be visiting for his birthday (he turned 40 on Aug. 9).
"I try to go back to Scotland twice a year because it just sort of grounds me, you know what I mean? Because I love my life here, but it is very unreal. So it's nice to go back to my hometown at least a couple of times a year and just walk it. All my pals are still my pals and I mean nothing's really changed and I'm living this great roller-coaster ride right now but my life really is also that. I'm not removed from that."
But still, when he signed his first long-term contract -- for "Rome," which didn't end up running the six-season length of that contract -- "I was terrified," he said.
"I stayed up at night for a long, long time. Because I like dancing around to theater, to this, to that. And I realized very quickly that six years isn't a long time, really. You think it is, when you're signing a contract, but I've done five years of this show, this is my sixth season, and it's gone by literally in a blink of an eye."