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The actress, 40, will be guest starring on Thursday's episode of the medical drama, reprising her role as April for the first time since she was written off the show in 2018. In a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight, she said she had to keep her return a secret "for a little while" before it was officially announced last month.
"I didn't fully believe it was happening until I literally signed the contract, which didn't come until a while after the initial conversations," she said. "It started with an initial conversation, and I was like, 'This sounds interesting, the story sounds interesting.' But you never know if the storyline is going to change or they're going to change their mind, so I didn't really settle into the reality that it was happening until I knew 100 percent it was happening."
"Then, by that point, I was about to show up on set and so it was like, 'I can't wait to see everyone!'" Drew added.
As for what it was like walking back on the Grey's set after several years away, the Cruel Summer star said it was "wonderful."
"I felt so warmly embraced," she said. "It felt like coming home. My heart just leapt. Every person I saw, I was like, 'Ahh! I've missed you!' It was a very sweet homecoming."
In a promo for her episode, April's ex-husband and the father of her child, Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams), is shown driving through a storm, deep in thought and appearing at April's front doorstep.
As April — who is holding their daughter — opens the door, the promo pans to flashbacks of Japril's best moments throughout the ABC medical drama.
When asked why Jackson makes the long drive to April, Drew told ET she "cannot say."
"I can't reveal anything about the reason he's coming to talk to her, but I think it's important to realize that nothing changed in their interaction of co-parenting this child," she said. "They've seen one another. They've been co-parenting this whole time. I don't know exactly what the custody is between the two of them, but he has Harriet sometimes, she has Harriet sometimes. There's a handoff that's happening all the time continuously throughout the pandemic."
Drew similarly declined to answer whether Thursday's episode will provide Jackson and April, who married paramedic Matthew Taylor (Justin Bruening) when last fans saw her, with some closure.
"These two characters having had such a long time to develop a story, you have so much information to draw on from so many years that were on screen," she said. "They weren't just imagined, they weren't just something that you create as backstory. It's stuff that the audience has tracked and seen, that we have played, experienced and taken a journey through. So there's so many layers that you can play together when you have that kind of breadth of time that you've spent onscreen together."
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She continued, "That is so rare. You just don't get that. Shows don't last this long. You don't have that much material to draw from in most cases. So it makes the whole thing feel so much more human, and so much easier, and so much more delightful and juicy."
The actress also said there may be more opportunities for April to return to Grey's going forward: "I think the door was always open for April to appear in more episodes because she was still in Seattle co-parenting with Jackson. It's just a matter of what works for the story."
Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays (9 p.m. ET) on ABC.