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A Conversation With Kate Walsh

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Her shiny, cinnamon-colored waves bouncing with every step, the 5'9" Kate Walsh looks picture-perfect. But there's something about her mischievous smile that makes you think she'd walk straight into a pole just to get a laugh. In person, Walsh is infinitely funnier than Dr. Addison Shepherd, the intimidating surgeon she plays on the ABC hit Grey's Anatomy.

Kate Walsh: Funnier Than Addison"When I first came on the show, my character was like a Wicked Witch of the East, dressed in Prada," she told Women's Health before sitting down for an exclusive interview. "Then throughout the season you see her becoming a little more vulnerable, a little more like me."

Walsh, 39, was born in California, grew up in Arizona, and studied theater in Chicago before moving to New York.

She headed to Los Angeles seven years ago, and though she earned some fans as Nicki on The Drew Carey Show, she remained relatively unfamous before joining Grey's Anatomy during Season 2.

Life has changed dramatically since, and Walsh admits to wearing sunglasses in airports now, after a fan ran up and literally screamed in her face.

Yet despite newfound stardom, she doesn't seem at all self-conscious amid a crowded Hollywood lunch spot. Here's what she told the magazine:

WOMEN'S HEALTH: I hate to sound corny, but you're glowing. Did you just work out?
KATE WALSH: Well... I was supposed to do Pilates this morning. I got as far as putting the sports bra on. Then I realized there was no way I was about to drive through traffic and go to the gym. Noooo. So I threw my bathrobe on over the bra and read the paper. Sometimes I hope that through osmosis I might get a workout — just by wearing the clothes.

WH: You wore a fat suit when you starred on The Drew Carey Show. Did that give you perspective on what it feels like to struggle with weight?
KW: I don't think there's any woman who doesn't struggle with body image or weight. I was intoxicated with the story line on the show — a woman who worked hard to lose weight then dates this guy who eats. And she eats with him and gradually gets bigger and bigger until she can't stand herself. I remember going out to eat wearing the fat suit, and some people stared at me like I was an animal going to the trough. People can be cruel.

WH: Ever done anything crazy to stay slim?
KW: I've done every diet there is. When I quit smoking years ago, I did the cabbage soup diet. I went on Atkins because I was going to have foot surgery. I knew I wouldn't be able to move or work out and I was afraid of becoming huge. I remember sitting by the pool with my legs elevated, eating a mixing bowl's worth of whipped cream with Equal in it.

WH: Yeesh.
KW: Yes, it was so disgusting!

WH: Why did you have foot surgery?
KW: I had bunions. Such a charming word. It's partly hereditary. Both my mother and grandmother had them. Part of it is from wearing pretty shoes. Your feet get screwed up. And I love high heels.

WH: How many pairs are in your closet?
KW: I probably have, like, 100 pairs of shoes. That's a pretty healthy shoe situation. I keep them in boxes with Polaroids on the front. That's how much of a shoe weirdo I am.

WH: Obviously you like to be organized.
KW: Yes... I struggle with control. I'm not anal. I'm not a clean freak. My house is a mess. But I definitely struggle with wanting things my own way.

WH: How so?
KW: I was going on a date recently, and the guy was like, "Okay, this place or this place?" and I happened to know of three better steak restaurants. So I texted back, "Well...how about this place instead?" and he was like, "Wow! Are you trying to take control of the date?"

WH: How long have you been on the dating circuit?
KW: My boyfriend and I split up a month ago, so I'm just starting to date.

WH: Are you heartbroken?
KW: No, I'm all right. We were together for a year and a half. He's a great guy, but it was long distance so it was really hard. It was a mutual, very adult breakup.

WH: Ever felt like you'd found a soul mate?
KW: I've had some amazing relationships, very transformational. But the idea of a soul mate is tricky. I get so many different things from so many different people in my life. Maybe it's dangerous to say, "You're the one, and there's only you." I really thought the last guy was it. So now I'm in this place where I'm like, "I don't know anything anymore." And I'm okay not knowing.

WH: In Under the Tuscan Sun, you played the lesbian girlfriend of your Grey's Anatomy co-star, Sandra Oh. What was it like preparing for that part?
KW: That's the fun thing about being an actress: You get to do things you wouldn't normally do — like be a lesbian. It was funny, that part came in the middle of a trilogy of lesbian roles for me. I had just played a closeted lesbian suburban wife in an indie movie, and then I played a lesbian detective on Karen Sisco. Do I give off a girl-on-girl vibe, I wonder? Or is it because I'm tall? I guess the chicks just dig me!

WH: On Ellen you talked about spending a night in jail. You threw a cue ball at a mirror in a Chicago bar?
KW: Yes — I was maybe 26 when that happened. It sounds so punk rock, doesn't it? The weird thing is I've always been relatively conservative. I take my risks onstage, in my work. So the one time I decide to rage, the universe goes, "Uh-uh, sorry, you can't do that!" I remember walking into the cell and there were two other women in there spooning. I was like, "Oh my God — lady sandwich! What's going to happen to me?!"

WH: Maybe that was the redhead in you coming out?
KW: Actually, naturally I'm a sort of medium mouse.

WH: Did people treat you differently when you changed your hair color?
KW: I behaved differently. When I was a blonde, guys treated me like a girl...a girly girl. Then as a redhead, I was a little more sassy, maybe a little more boorish — more how I am inside.

WH: So you feel like red is the real you?
KW: Yes. Being blonde was always other than what I really am. I thought I wanted to be one of those softer, girly girls. Then I grew out of that. I realized I'd never be a sweet girl. [Laughs] Never.

Kate Walsh: A Redhead at Heart

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.

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i absolutly love Kate Walsh, and i think her hair looks so much better red! I am obsessed with Kate on Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice, and think she is such a fantastic, beautiful person with amazing style in whatever she does. I love you so much, Kate, i am your no.1 air conditioner! ( fans are old school )LOVVE KATE!!

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Kate is SO amazing! I absolutely love her as a redhead! I used to be blonde but then I went red and everyone likes me better with red hair... I can relate to how she feels as a red head verses a blonde, I feel the same way. I LOVE having red hair. It's empowering :) haha

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I love Kate Walsh ! she is my favorite actress! I agree that she looks pretties in red hair than in blonde! She is great!

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Kate Walsh is so gorgeous! She has that sass and style that no other rolemodel of mine has. Kate is very unique in her own way. With the red hair, the blue eyes, and the best clothes and shoes (love abercrombie and fitch Kate!), she can never go wrong. If I could ever meet Kate I know I would adore her. I already do! You rock hard Kate! No one can break you down! I love you Kate, from your number one fan!

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kate walsh is hot, if ever she sees this message i want her to know i really really like her, if ever i would choose a life, i would likely choose being with her, just the same as she is right now, you rock kathleen i wish i will see you one day, and hope to get to know you for real.

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Kate really brings something special to Adisson on Grey's.
She has such unique facial expressions! It has been really great discovering more about her character as the series progress.
Well done Kate!
You rock:)

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omg! i am a her number onee fann!! she's just perfect! smart, loving, sophisticated, down to earth, GORGEOUSS! what else do you need!?
LOVE YOU ADDYY!!

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I love her roles smiles,shoes,giggles.and great actress. But it sad like begin season 3 when derrick kick addison out the house during the tunderstorm, and began to sobs. but thing change she drive i 5 south to l.a to feel happy.

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Yes, new nose, new chin, weight loss, redhair, I am thinking also a mini facelift, especially in the forehead area. It all looks good though! If you are going to have plastic surgery, so it subtley and improve on the beautiful you. She sounds cool as shit, and I would like to have a beer with her!

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She looks so phony now....she doesn't even look like the same person....tooooo much hollywood plastic surgery! She should have just been happy with who she is!

Grey's Anatomy Quotes

Did you say it? 'I love you. I don't ever want to live without you. You changed my life.' Did you say it? Make a plan. Set a goal. Work toward it, but every now and then, look around; Drink it in 'cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow."

Meredith (closing voiceover)

There's a reason I said I'd be happy alone. It wasn't 'cause I thought I'd be happy alone. It was because I thought if I loved someone and then it fell apart, I might not make it. It's easier to be alone, because what if you learn that you need love and you don't have it? What if you like it and lean on it? What if you shape your life around it and then it falls apart? Can you even survive that kind of pain? Losing love is like organ damage. It's like dying. The only difference is death ends. This? It could go on forever.

Meredith