After several strong guest appearances over two years-plus, Brooke Smith is set to join the Grey's Anatomy cast as renowned heart surgeon Erica Hahn.
With her role cemented after last night, Brooke Smith talked with Michael Ausiello of TV Guide to discuss her character, what it's like to join such a talented ensemble, and whether or not Erica Hahn will be portrayed as a lesbian ...
TV Guide: Congratulations!
Brooke Smith: Thanks!
TV Guide: You must've had an idea this was coming.
Brooke Smith: Honestly, I wasn't expecting it, [probably] because I didn't want to be disappointed if it didn't end up happening. I thought it was really cool when TV Guide [floated the idea], because I thought, "Wow, I didn't even think of that!" And literally a couple days after we spoke, they called.
TV Guide: Did they come right out and offer a full-time gig? Or were they just offering another guest spot?
Brooke Smith: No, it was, "Hey, can you come full-time?" Thank God. I couldn't handle any more dabbling. It's too much. [Mock anguish] I feel like I want someone to commit to me already!
TV Guide: What was your first reaction?
Brooke Smith: You know, we were kind of excited. [Laughs] I say "we" because my husband and I were like, "Wow, OK." We had just finished [renovating our apartment] in New York, and put down a deposit on school for our little girl. But, aside from that, we just said, "All right, I guess we're moving to L.A. for a little while." But we're going back to New York at the end of this.
TV Guide: Do you like that Dr. Hahn is a little bit of an antagonist?
Brooke Smith: Yeah. I've heard people say [Dr. Hahn] is abrasive. [Laughs] Dr. Hahn is a workaholic and she's very professional and, you know, I think she feels that there should be professionalism at work, and when other people do things that aren't professional she gets a little upset.
TV Guide: It's not a Motel 6.
Brooke Smith: Exactly! Lord.
TV Guide: Since you're sticking around, I guess it's safe to assume that they're going to delve a little more into Dr. Hahn's backgroundâ€¦ maybe give her a love interest?
Brooke Smith: I think so. Honestly, as of now, there's only a little hinting. I'm getting some suggestionsâ€¦.
TV Guide: Like what?
Brooke Smith: There might be a certain man there who's interested in me. But I don't know what Dr. Hahn will think of that. It's really interesting. I haven't worked like this before. We start shooting the next episode on Monday and I don't have a script yet. We'll get it tomorrow, and you just sort of read them out loud with everyone, and you're like, "Oh my god!" I know a little bit about her. And, certainly, I have a dialogue with the writers and I ask them questions and they sort of steer me down their same path. But I don't think anyone knows what's going to happenâ€¦. The other day I joked, "I know who I'm hooking up with!" There's this surgical nurse who's always there. When she's there I'm thrilled, because she always makes me feel very real â€" 'cause she's a real [surgical nurse]. I turned to her at one point and said, "Are you single on the show?" She doesn't even have a name on the show and I'm already trying to hook up with her.
TV Guide: I can see Dr. Hahn hitting it off with Cristina.
Brooke Smith: Secretly, we pushed for that. You know, Sandra Oh and I played lovers in [the off-Broadway play] Stop Kiss.
TV Guide: You know, there were rumors a while back that Cristina might be bisexual...
Brooke Smith: I know. I heard those rumors.
TV Guide: Then it's destined to happen!
Brooke Smith: That's what I think. But I don't knowâ€¦.
TV Guide: I think Dr. Hahn would make an awesome lesbian.
Brooke Smith: I think so, too.
TV Guide: Could it happen?
Brooke Smith: I honestly don't know. I've certainly let [the producers] know I'm open to it.
TV Guide: What was their reaction?
Brooke Smith: They were like, "OK, duly noted!" I think they wanted me to shut up already.
TV Guide: The fact is, Seattle Grace needs a gay character.
Brooke Smith: Well, hey, you called it that I [would be] on the show full-time, so...
TV Guide: Did the cast welcome you back with open arms?
Brooke Smith: They've been great. Everybody's great. It's very comfortableâ€¦ which is weird. It feels like it shouldn't be, because it's such a big show.
TV Guide: And it hasn't always been the happiest place to work.
Brooke Smith: I guess that was last season. I haven't seen any of that. And I didn't see it the last time I was there. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm in some sort of bubble.
TV Guide: Any Grey's Anatomy scoop you can give me before you go?
Brooke Smith: I heard Seth Green is coming.
TV Guide: Eh, that's old news. Are you going to be in scenes with him?
Brooke Smith: Not yet. But we're doing a two-parter now, so maybe in the second part. I'm not involved with him in the first part.
TV Guide: Who are you involved with in the first part?
Brooke Smith: I've been working with Dr. Sloan... Izzie... and Alex... And I finally got to work with Dr. Torres.