‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Jessica Capshaw Talks Callie’s Departure, Arizona’s New Love Life

Elizabeth Wagmeister

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead if you have not watched Season 13, episode 3, of “Grey’s Anatomy,” which aired Thursday, Oct. 6.

Arizona is back. Making her first appearance this season, Jessica Capshaw returned to “Grey’s Anatomy” for her character’s all-new beginning.

At the end of last season, Arizona’s ex-wife Callie (Sara Ramirez) left for New York City with her girlfriend Penny (Samantha Sloyan). In real life, Ramirez left the show.

Capshaw tells Variety she has not spoken to Ramirez since the actress exited the series, but the lack of her presence is felt on set, as it always is with departing actors in the world of “Grey’s.”

“In the time I have been on ‘Grey’s,’ there was Sandra [Oh] and there was Patrick [Dempsey]. I think it’s amazing for a show to be on for 13 seasons. That’s huge. It’s such an incredible achievement for every actor who’s been on the show, even if they aren’t anymore,” Capshaw says. “I think that you always feel their absence, but I am always feeling grateful that they were there to begin with.”

With Callie moving to NYC — rather than being killed off or some other extreme storyline — the door was left open for Ramirez to perhaps return. (At the time of her exit, Shonda Rhimes said, “She will always have a home at Shondaland.”) But Capshaw does not know if there are any plans to bring the character back in the show’s future.

“I have zero idea. I have no idea. I’ve never been in the loop with any of that,” Capshaw says. “I think anything is possible, right?”

Here, Capshaw tells Variety about Arizona’s life without Callie, which means a new love interest — or, perhaps, interests…

How is Arizona dealing with Callie being gone?

I think it’s a unique opportunity when you start a new season and a character starts a new chapter. Her coming back and being able to narrate this other world that’s happening that you don’t get to see is really reassuring and is ultimately very valuable for viewers who have been through this relationship with the courtship and the marriage and the divorce. I think it’s a very respectable way for people to understand that they don’t have to be at odds — they can still be supportive of each other and in each other’s lives. Callie obviously has Penny, and I think what’s exciting is that you’ll be able to see Arizona and what she wants to have. There are always layers to peel back about people’s sexual history, and Arizona has always been sort of outward. I’m always like, “Wow, Arizona!” [Laughing] She’s always been sort of racy, so I wonder what’s going to happen next for her.

Have you thought about what happened when Arizona went to NYC with Callie? Did you talk to the writers about that story that viewers didn’t get to see?

I think that she went and that she helped get Sofia set up.

Arizona is getting a new love interest this season, correct?

Absolutely! I think that is absolutely due, and I think that you will see that.

Can you tease when that new love interest may be introduced?

Somewhere before the halfway line, I would say. Somewhere leading up to the middle of the season, you will see her spreading her wings and flying a bit.

Will Arizona be getting into a serious relationship, or more of a hookup relationship?

I don’t exactly know. Last year was about her being intimidated and dealing with what one deals with after they get divorced. Now, I think she’s probably easing back in and figuring out if she wants to be with someone. I don’t think you’ll be seeing any more children, though. I don’t think Arizona has ever revealed herself as being anyone conventional. I think what was interesting is that she surprised herself when she asked Callie to marry her — I don’t think she was necessarily looking for that convention of marriage and happily ever after. So who knows if that’s something that she’ll lean toward.

Will this new love interest be someone that we already know? Or will it be a new character?

I don’t know. I’m not sure. [Laughing] It’s always really exciting when someone new comes on. I came on as a guest star for three episodes, and look at me now. And who knows — there might be more than one! I have no idea.

In Thursday night’s episode, Arizona was really upset at Karev (Justin Chambers) for beating up DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti). She said, “I missed you today, but I’m still really, really mad at you.” What does Arizona and Karev’s relationship look like going forward?

I think ultimately having been in a relationship with him for the past seven seasons, I think that she knows his nature and she’s mostly upset because he genuinely hurt someone else. I don’t think it was until she got back that she realized how bad of a beating this was. I think she’s trying to unpack how that all feels for her and what to do going forward. Being Karev’s friend obviously means she doesn’t hope he goes to jail, but also being a true friend to Andrew, she also has to support him wanting there to be some consequences.

Karev says he’ll do anything he can to get back into pediatrics. Do you think that will happen, or did he ruin his career?

I think it’s going to be a long rocky road for him. Justin Chambers and Alex Karev is a beloved man and a beloved character, which is why this makes it so much more rich because it’s very conflicting because everybody is so disappointed in what he’s done. I think he’s going to have to create a new situation for himself, and humbly try to make his way back. And that’s something we haven’t seen him do.

Related stories

'How to Get Away With Murder': Laurel's Father Is Finally Revealed (SPOILERS)

Julianne Hough to Guest Star on ABC's 'Speechless'

ABC Greenlights Revival of 'The Gong Show' From Exec Producer Will Arnett

Get more from Variety and Variety411: Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Newsletter