Who Will Lexie Grey Sleep With?
Here's the shocker from the first two (and, from the looks of spoilers, at least the next few) episodes of Season Four of Grey's Anatomy:
Lexie Grey doesn't hook up with anybody.
Not McDreamy, not McSteamy, not George. Nobody.
"Around here, it's the ongoing joke," the petite actress who plays Lexie, Chyler Leigh, tells the New York Post. "Who am I going to sleep with?"
Who indeed? As Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes tries to recover from a grim third season, she's trying hard to recreate a satisfying soufflÃ© of sublime surgeons with fragile, complicated love lives and life-and-death medical crises.
The most potent new ingredient she's poured into the pot is Chyler Leigh, who plays Meredith Grey's Harvard-educated half-sister, Lexie.
Leigh interviewed for the high-profile role last November, but wasn't told until three days before filming the two-part season finale last April that her character would be Meredith's sister.
"This was all a huge secret," says Leigh. "They didn't want anyone to know I was coming."
But now the actress can fill in the blank.
"Lexie's mother died unexpectedly. Her father (Meredith's dad, Thatcher) is a basket case and drinking. "Lexie Grey was supposed to do her internship at Massachusetts General but came home to be with her dad."
Does half-sister Meredith welcome her with open arms?
Hardly. Especially after Meredith finds out that Lexie and Derek (Patrick Dempsey) have already met over drinks at Joe's Bar.
"Meredith pretty much doesn't want anything to do with her," Leigh said.
Leigh, who is married to actor Nathan West and has two young children, says she never watched Grey's Anatomy before the audition and had to play serious catch-up prior to joining the cast for Season Four.
When she found out last fall that she was up for a role, "my husband and I rented it on DVD and watched non-stop for about a day and a half. I was emotionally drained and exhausted. But I fell in love with the show."
Even the third season? Chyler Leigh pauses, and then decides not to censor herself. At 25, she is a quick-witted and intense young woman.
Leigh sits in her studio trailer, one in a long row of identical star trailers that makes the Grey's parking lot look like an RV showroom.
She's so new to the cast that there are still no personal touches in her private digs. In fact, she seems a little shell-shocked at being part of the pampered ensemble of a hit show.
In 2002, Chyler Leigh was cast in two forgettable TV series, "Girls Club" and "That '80s Show." Since then, she's done other pilots and had guest spots on "North Shore" and "The Practice."
Tell her she may be the George Clooney of Grey's Anatomy (before ER, George Clooney claims to have been on more failed pilots than any other actor in Hollywood history) and Leigh nods her head in quick agreement.
"And to be on a medical show, like him, where I could possibly break through? It's pretty great."
She's just come out of rehearsals for a scene where Dr. Mark Sloan (Eric Dane) is barking orders and George O'Malley (T.R. Knight) faces humiliation (hehas to repeat his intern year) by being asked to hold a patient's wedding gown.
"Looks like Bambi just became a bridesmaid," says McSteamy, pouring salt in George's wounds.
"When a show has this much clout, you expect attitude and drama," says Leigh. "But when I showed up there was just nothing.
"I came in last season for the last two episodes so I didn't know what was going on with all that controversy. Everyone was so welcoming. Shonda was running around introducing me to everybody and saying, 'This is Lexie, this is Lexie!'
"Frankly, it was almost anti-climactic," she says.
But never boring. Because bringing Grey's Anatomy back to life has meant creating a classic soap-opera triangle between Lexie, Meredith and Derek Shepherd. And Dr. Sloan is always on the prowl.
"Everybody says 'Who's it going to be? McDreamy or McSteamy?'" says Leigh. "But my husband says, 'Why not McTeamy? Why not have both?'"
Leigh says that when she finally gets her romantic groove on, it's not going to be what people expect, so cross Dr. Shepherd off the list.
"Right now, she's focused on surviving," says Leigh. "In going through that, she'll find someone who in some way, shape or form connects with that."
In the meantime, does she get weak in the knees around all that man candy?
"My husband is extremely dreamy," says Leigh, "so I get it at home. I come here and it's like, 'whatever, guys.' They just happen to be ridiculously good-looking men that I get to spend my day with."
What's fascinating about Leigh is that in real life, she's had a lot in common - not with Lexie Grey - but with Meredith.
Born in Charlotte, N..C., Leigh grew up in Virginia Beach until age 12, when her parents' divorce forced a move to Miami Beach.
At 14, her mother pushed her none too gently into acting and modeling. Leigh did a lot of French and German 'tween catalogue work, which she hated.
"You get all those people who say, 'She's too fat, too skinny, too pretty, not pretty enough,'" says Leigh. "It's such a horrible thing to put kids through."
Chyler Leigh says she still has the scars to show from it.
"The hardest thing I've had to overcome is the people-pleasing," she says. "The idea of conditional love, that you have to be something other than what you are because what you are isn't good enough.
"I don't have a relationship with my mom. I haven't seen or spoken to her in three years. I had a lot of healing to do."
Her marriage, she says - to a man she met at 16, married at 20, changed and saved her life: "My husband taught me that if you have a gift, it's a shame to squander it because you're wasting time. He taught me to be passionate about life."
Like Meredith Grey?
"I'm not dark and twisty like Meredith," says Leigh. "But I could have been."
Chyler Leigh, called into hair and make-up, flashes a smile that is anything but anxiety-ridden. After all, she's on her first hit show. There are lives to save and ridiculously good-looking men to spend her day with.