Actor James Pickens Jr., who plays "The Chief" on Grey's Anatomy, knows he's got to do something about the libidinous interns on the hit show.
"They're driving me crazy," Pickens said in a recent interview, adopting his character's familiar look of exasperation. "I've got to put them on lockdown or do something. Hopefully, I'm going to start putting a rein on them."
The results of his efforts, however futile, are back on display as Grey's Anatomy begins its third season. In last week's premiere, Izzie struggled to accept Denny's fate, Dr. Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) professed his love for Meredith, and Dr. Burke's career was still in jeopardy. As for the Chief, a.k.a. Dr. Richard Webber, he was given an ultimatum by his wife, Adele.
Some viewers might consider the romantic hijinks on Grey's to be somewhat far-fetched, but Pickens said doctors tell him the show is right on the mark.
"Right after the first season... I happened to be at a social gathering where there was a physician couple who were both pediatric surgeons. The first thing they picked up on was the sex. They said 'Yeah, the on-call room, that's always the place,'" he said.
Pickens, 51, whose previous TV credits include Beverly Hills 90210, Roseanne, and The Practice, acknowledged that the show's staggering popularity has changed his everyday life."This thing has gone above and beyond what I believe anyone thought it would," he said. "The downside of that -- if there is one -- is, you know, you come into 20 million households every night, now, walking down the street has a different flavour to it. Your privacy is not so private anymore. But it kind of goes with the territory."
To get away from the spotlight, Pickens turns to his favorite hobby -- cattle roping.
"It's a great escape from the craziness of Hollywood. It's a nice therapy for me. Even when I don't rope, just getting my horse outside is a great way to collect myself and be out in nature," he said.
Pickens couldn't reveal what's in store for The Chief this season, but if the premiere was any indication, it's looking tumultuous. His character's rocky marriage and history as an alcoholic will surely be explored, along with his relationship with Meredith's mother, Ellis Grey (Kate Burton).
As for whether the antics at SGH can maintain their hold on viewers, Pickens lauded the writers on the program, suggesting there are plenty of wild plot turns to come.
"We've only seen part of the onion peeled back. The residents technically still have three years left, which in TV time could be seven years," he said. "There's a lot of story there."