After 'Grey's Anatomy' and 'Supergirl' Chyler Leigh has found 'The Way Home' and shared the secrets of the show's season finale with us
Chyler Leigh answered some burning questions about "The Way Home" season finale, which aired on Sunday.
She also shared her thoughts on "Grey's Anatomy" and Ellen Pompeo's decision to step back.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for "The Way Home" season one.
Chyler Leigh was acting in Hollywood for more than a decade before she captured hearts as Meredith Grey's (Ellen Pompeo) little sister Lexie Grey on "Grey's Anatomy." Lexie's photographic memory, love of peanut butter cups, and tragic death made her so beloved among her colleagues that they eventually named Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital after her — but Leigh wasn't done making an impact.
She next played Supergirl's (Melissa Benoist) sister Alex Danvers for six seasons on the CW hit "Supergirl, which inspired her to share more about her personal life with fans after Alex came out as queer.
"My heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest each take we filmed, every time presenting another opportunity to get those honest words out of my mouth," she wrote in an essay for Create Change about the scene according to Entertainment Weekly. "Though they don't exactly match my personal dialogue, the heart behind it surely did."
Leigh is currently leading the Hallmark Channel's first scripted TV series, "The Way Home," playing Kat Landry, a woman who fled her home in Canada after the baffling disappearance of her brother Jacob (Remy Smith) and the death of her father, Colton (Jefferson Brown) in the 90s.
Amid a divorce more than 20 years later, she returns home with her teenage daughter Alice (Sadie Laflamme-Snow) to face her estranged mother Del (Andie MacDowell) after decades of silence between them. She's hoping to heal, but as fans now know, a mysterious pond that facilitates time travel opens old wounds for all of the Landry women, including Alice.
Leigh spoke with Insider about the show's heartbreaking, plot-twisting finale, from reflecting on the end of Kat's romance with her childhood best friend Elliot (Evan Williams) to giving us hits about where Kat travels to in those last few seconds.
Leigh says she had an 'emotional explosion' after filming a heartbreaking scene in the finale.
I have to start with those last few minutes of the season finale and Kat's revelation that she thinks she knows where her missing brother Jacob may have disappeared to after hearing the family dog Finn bark. What does that spark in her, and where does she go?
Kat's a reporter, so her ability of deduction and putting all those pieces together, you can see the way that her mind works. Even if you go back, which we've heard from a lot of our fans saying that they're watching the episodes over again, so they kind of can pick up on those little nuances. And you hear all the significant times that Finn has barked, putting that together and seeing what that looks like....We've been putting those little nuggets in there all along.
So now that it's all flooding back, or at least being discovered at this point, we see pretty quick when we go into next season, that whole mystery of, "Okay. How did she get there? What is the pond? When did the pond start?
Everybody has been thinking the girl from the 1800s that we introduced in the pilot is Alice. And so, I love that moment, the sweep the rug out of everybody's feet moment, when we reveal it's actually Kat.
Backing up a little bit, it was devastating to watch Kat and Elliot break up, knowing that he's been pining for her in different time periods, even while she was married to her husband Brady. What was that breakup like to film?
After we were done with the scene, Evan and I spent about 10 minutes crying together at the house on the set. We went in there in between takes because it was freezing. And we literally just sat there and we cried and we hugged for about 10 minutes because we wanted to give our absolute all. And it was a beautiful scene in and of itself, but I think Evan's performance is so devastating and so amazing. And he puts so much thought into everything that he does and so much preparation, and it's so intentional every choice that he makes.
And it was exhausting and amazing, and I was so just grateful for him and for all of our cast who puts a thousand percent into every moment that we film, whether you're on camera or you're not, because we, too, love this show so much. We're so invested. So those emotions that you're seeing, because we love the show so much and we love these characters, it was real.
What's the most valuable lesson you've learned so far from working with Andie MacDowell?
I think one of the greatest things that I've learned from Andie is accepting yourself where you are right now. And she's spoken about it. For her to have gone gray or silver with her hair is a bold move. It's not an easy thing, especially in the industry when you are so heavily scrutinized for every choice that you make, or for aging in general, especially women. The pressure of that is so challenging, and we can all relate to that in one way, shape, or form.
And she's so stunningly beautiful in life. It's incredible. That's also a testament to who she is on the inside because she just glows no matter what.
Even for myself, I'm going to be 41 next month, and so there's acceptance. Hormones hit, my body's changed. I feel like I hit my 40th birthday and, "Whoa. Where did that come from?"As we naturally age and our bodies change and whatnot, she's helped me a lot with just accepting myself where I am and feeling better about who I am in an industry that, as I said, is not very forgiving towards that in so many ways.
Authentic representation of the LGBTQ community is important to Leigh
I know LGBTQ representation is especially important to you after "Supergirl." What can we expect to see as far as queer representation in season two of "The Way Home?"
Because of being on "Supergirl" and my character's coming out and that whole storyline, I was just so adamant about being able to portray that as authentically and genuinely as possible. So for that to carry over into Hallmark, again, where you don't really get to see that very often, I'm just so incredibly grateful for that opportunity.
To be able to have the license to do stuff like that on "The Way Home," we're definitely taking advantage of that. To make sure that we have queer representation from all aspects — even if it's a crew, if it's from a character, now in the writer's room, which we're incorporating for season 2, that perspective and being able to explore those things, it's equally important to all of us.
And as for "The Way Home" season two, what can you tease about what fans can expect?
I'm excited about our exploration of the 1800s and what that's going to look like. And so, for that, I was asked if I had experience riding a horse, and I was like, "Ooh, that's cool." But being able to see Jacob where he is and what happened, and find the mystery. But also the mystery of how, who, or what is the pond, really? Who discovered it? Who was that first person that went through there? Where did they go? What did that look like initially? Why is Kat being chased and being called the White Witch, and why does she look so different?
As Ellen Pompeo's former on-screen sister, what are your thoughts on her departure from "Grey's Anatomy" as a regular and the future of the show?
I'll be honest, I haven't followed a whole bunch of stuff for "Grey's." She's been there and invested for how many years now?
The fact that they can come up with so many different medical cases over these 72 years the show's been on is pretty remarkable. So you chalk that up to the creative team, and also respecting whatever Ellen's choice was and the motivation behind it. That's a hell of a long time to sit and invest into a character. Whatever that decision is, you've got to respect [her]. I don't have any doubt that they could keep that show going for another 65 years.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
"The Way Home" has been renewed for season two. You can stream season one now on Peacock.
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