An interview with Jessica Capshaw

AE: GLAAD recently put out their visibility index and ABC finished third in the pack with a “good” rating and there’s obviously room for improvement. How would you like to see Grey’s help improve on that rating?

This is perhaps selfish, but I think the only way to do it is to be authentic and the only way to be authentic is to tell good stories. I think about this all the time with our story line and we had this story about having babies and we almost broke up last year and people would get so upset about it. I understand that as a fan of certain shows and you want that couple to be together and they’re not.

But the thing is that I don’t think that the coupling has to also be bridled by “they have to stay together because they’re our gay couple.” Callie and Arizona have to go through what they have to go through — they have to go through the ups and the downs, the trials and tribulations and they have to break up and get back together or they have to say, “I’m done with this,” and be done with it or say, “I’m going to be with you forever, let’s do that.” I think that it’s about bringing that authentic self, that authentic character, that authentic story to television. What ends up following is it resonates with people as opposed to polarizing audiences. It’s the same, we’re all the same.

AE: Have you seen The Kids Are All Right yet?

Not yet! It’s only a testament that I have a 3-year-old and my husband and I are expecting a baby soon. We’re going to see a lot of movies soon before the baby comes.

AE: I think you’ll enjoy it because the out director, Lisa Cholodenko is really smart in that she made it political by not making it political at all.

I have friends that are school age and brothers and sisters that are younger, but every single one of my siblings had at least one or two or three or four gay couples who were parenting friends of theirs. Again, it’s the more that we have visibility in an authentic way, it’s no big deal.

AE: Getting back to Grey’s Anatomy, what can you tease us about the upcoming season?

We broke up last year in the big season finale. Not many people go through a life or death moment but we did and I think at the end of it we came out knowing that we really did want to be together. But we still are going to have problems. There’s still a big question mark about the whole baby thing. I don’t care how many times Arizona said I want to have 14 babies, I don’t believe her! [Laughs] We’ll see what happens.

AE: Have you gone back to work yet?

Yes. We just had a table read for our third episode. It’s great. Now that it’s my second and a half season here, I feel like I’m not as surprised as I used to be because I’m getting used to it. But I think the stories are all really wonderful. We have a really large cast, especially this year. We have a lot of story lines to service.

That’s the thing that’s different about the show: Shonda Rhimes forces you to be a fan of everyone. If you only want to watch one couple or one person, you’re not going to be dissatisfied because nobody’s there all the time.

AE: True. But having a gay story line on a show that’s as highly rated as Grey’s means so much to the LGBT community — and to those who may not be out.

Those have been the best letters that I’ve gotten. That’s what means the most to me. I didn’t have an expectation, honestly, of how my time on the show was going to go. I didn’t know I was coming on to play a gay or straight character. I think I assumed I was going to be straight because I never knew the character was going to be gay but I didn’t assume I was going to stay; I was only supposed to be there for a little bit! So when I did, it was one of those things where I felt really lucky to go along for the ride and watch this story line unfold and see what was going to happen.

AE: What are your hopes for Callie and Arizona?

I’m an actress, so selfishly, I hope for the drama and the fun stuff to play. Even the fans that want them to stay together forever, I hope that they understand that it would be boring if they stayed together forever. And maybe they will, I don’t know. But I hope that they continue down the same road that they have been on: showing up for the relationship; meeting each other in the middle as most as they can; representing real relationships where people don’t meet in the middle; and sometimes I’m a bully, sometimes she’s a bully. You never know what’s going to happen.

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