It's the dawn of a new era.
Season 19 of Grey's Anatomy is set to see some major changes at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, with five new medical interns, played by Harry Shum Jr., Adelaide Kane, Alexis Floyd, Niko Terho and Midori Francis, joining the team.
"This is a big deal and it feels really exciting and it's breathing a lot of new life into the show," Grey's showrunner Krista Vernoff told Entertainment Weekly Sept. 13. "To have five series regulars with the talent and chops and resumes that this group brings allows for storytelling focused on what it is to be a brand new surgeon again and how everything feels life and death and every mistake that you make could kill someone."
Vernoff noted that Ellen Pompeo's decision to lessen her role on the show paved the way for the new stars, adding, "This felt like the right moment to come at it fresh with a bunch [of new characters]."
Vernoff said there are many challenges for the interns to confront, describing them as "diamonds in the rough."
"These are people who didn't match or who maybe got kicked out of a first residency who have something in their history that caused their grades to drop," she said. "They are all coming from something that they had to overcome in order to be here."
And it's up to Jake Borelli's Levi Schmitt to help the interns adjust to the demands of residency, as he's the lone senior resident still at Grey Sloan due to the intern program closing down. Levi's new role comes with a fair amount of responsibility, but the showrunner noted it's just what he needs after the events of the last six months.
"Because the program had to reboot, all the senior residents got assigned to new residencies and Levi Schmitt also got assigned to a new residency, but he was not enjoying that residency and made his way back," Vernoff teased. "And that story is in the premiere and it's very funny."
Season 19 will also see Dr. Meredith Grey (Pompeo) take a step back from her work responsibilities, but not till episode eight. After that, the writers will ease back on Meredith's appearances, shifting focus to the other doctors within the hospital.
"So one of the goals here is to platform this new class of residents in a way that everyone falls in love with them," Vernoff said. "And if Meredith isn't here anymore all the time, everybody still wants to come. I think Ellen is extraordinary and this show has always been an ensemble show. We have so many characters that are so beloved and have been on the show for so long that people would stay for."
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