Interview: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ star Kevin McKidd talks Christina and Owen split

When you meet Kevin McKidd, what’s most startling (at least it is if you’re a “Grey’s Anatomy” fan) is the accent. Born in Scotland, McKidd’s rich, rolling brogue sounds nothing like Owen, the lovelorn surgeon he plays on the show (which has a two-hour season premiere tonight at 9:00 p.m. ET on ABC). Though the actor has played many other characters memorably (fans will remember him from “Rome” and “Trainspotting”), after five seasons on the ABC show he’s probably best known as Owen — and that’s just fine with him. During press tour I talked to McKidd about what’s next for Owen and Christina (if anything after their split), if Owen will ever get out of denial about wanting to be a daddy, and whether or not he’s really a frustrated rock star.

It seems as if it’s really quits for Christina (Sandra Oh) and Owen. 

It feels like it, but I think the reality is, these two… I still believe they are the loves of each other’s lives and soul mates. I think the way Christina put it, Owen’s still in denial. Owen wants to have a kid,  but he’s convinced himself, because he believes it, that he loves her more than having a kid and he’s willing to give up the dream of being a father to be with her. And she sees the interaction with that kid [he met] last year, and she’s probably right that he is in denial. A lot of people live a lot of their lives in denial. It’s going to be interesting to see when Owen finally catches up to her. It’s like he’s a beat behind her. He doesn’t want to give her up because he loves her too much. It’s going to be really tough and tragic but I think she’s made this really unilateral, which is unfortunate, but very adult decision on behalf of them both.

I can’t imagine things are going to be very comfortable for the two of them at the hospital.

Even in the first few episodes, the attraction they have for each other doesn’t go away. It’s actually quite good fun to see them now and play what they’re doing, now that they’re really really not in a relationship. Because they’re still in a relationship together; it’s just not standard boyfriend-girlfriend. These people have done too much together and been so connected, it can’t suddenly become see you at the water cooler and say hi. That can never happen with these two. They’re too connected.

I know you’ve been on the show for five seasons, but I still think of you as the new kid!

Me, too! I’m like, wait a minute, how did five years go by?

[Show creator] Shonda Rhimes has done a good job of trying to mix things up with new cast members in the last few seasons. What do you think? 

It’s a testament. We’re about to air our 200th episode, and it’s not by accident. It’s literally just continued diligence and hard work and talent of these writers. It all comes down to the woman or the guy who writes the words on the page. 

Still, after so many seasons, the show doesn’t generate the same buzz as it used to. Is it frustrating to see all the attention go to “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men”?

It’s interesting, because I spent many years as an actor doing lauded and sort of hip not watched by many people stuff, independent films and ‘Rome.’ And I’m as proud of the work I do on “Grey’s” as I am that, but there’s this other element. I’m literally driving along PCH at about 50 miles an hour, and there are people coming off the beach with their surf boards and I can see them going, Owen! How can they even recognize me when I’m going that fast? But they do. I’m still getting used to that, to be honest. It’s weird. 

Recently Patrick Dempsey got a lot of flack for saying that race car driving is his real passion, while “Grey’s” is his job. Do you feel the same way?

I’ve been an actor since I was 8 years old and a professional actor since I was 20, so I’ve been doing this a long time now. It is my job. I have passions outside of acting. I’m a frustrated singer and guitarist [McKidd recently released an album of Scottish folk songs, “The Speyside Sessions“]. And a tennis player. I play ten hours of tennis a week. And I think that’s what he meant. It’s all a cliche that every actor is a frustrated something else, usually rock star. I remember before I started on ‘Grey’s’ my suitcase was always on the bedroom floor either half packed or half unpacked. That is a huge thing. [The show has] made my life full, I get to do really good work with great actors, writers and directors. It can be frustrating when I get offered some gig with some cool director and it clashes with the dates of the show, but that only lasts for a heartbeat. You look at the percentage of actors who are working in restaurants, I’m one of the lucky ones. 

Owen and Teddy [Kim Raver] had such a great connection. Do you miss her?

We had to do so much work together, me and her and Sandra, for the triangle. we were so connected and such good friends, and then we had to say goodbye to her. I still miss her. It is weird. We still talk and check in, and I’m cheerleading her. 

She could come back! Teddy isn’t dead!

But she’s busy, she’s in demand, so she’s into other stuff.

People do cycle in and out faster than we as viewers would like sometimes. 

I still can’t believe, I came in to the show, nobody knows if they’re going to stick on the show. I came in for a 10 episode arc with a view to continuing if things were going well. To be there five or six years later, it’s really an honor that people think I’m worthy to stick around. It’s a real blessing.

Would you consider a spinoff? Kate Walsh [Addison] had “Private Practice.” 

Yeah! That would be an amazing adventure. The problem with that is you end up working a lot more. The blessing of “Grey’s” is it’s an ensemble. This premiere episode for Owen, I think I shot for 10 out of the 11 days. If you’re Addison, you’re there every day. I take that back a little bit.

So what can you tell us about what’s coming up for Owen this season? 

He’s definitely going to explore the baby thing and how he’s going to become a father.