"Grey's Anatomy" actor steps behind camera

Mon Jan 31, 2011 8:31pm EST
 
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By Lesley Goldberg

LOS ANGELES (Back Stage) - "Grey's Anatomy" doctor Kevin McKidd has one special thing in common with Jensen Ackles ("Supernatural"), Jon Cryer ("Two and a Half Men"), David Boreanaz ("Angel," "Bones") and Zachary Levi ("Chuck"): All five actors have directed episodes -- in some cases several -- of the shows on which they star.

For McKidd, the experience was something he had wanted to do for a long time. Taking advantage of "Grey's" ensemble cast, the veteran actor started shadowing directors on the set before being handed the reins to helm webisodes of the hit ABC medical drama, a gig he highly recommends to his fellow thespians looking to make the switch to behind the lens.

McKidd recently discussed his experience at the helm of the February 3 episode of "Grey's Anatomy" -- titled "Don't Deceive Me (Please Don't Go)" -- and how being an overthinking actor helped him.

BACK STAGE: WHEN DID YOU FIRST GET THE BUG TO DIRECT?

Kevin McKidd: I've wanted to direct for a long time. I've always been too busy as an actor, but on this show, because it's such a large ensemble, you can have episodes where it's pretty light for you. It seemed like the perfect fit to kind of go, "Okay, this might be the area that I can start to maybe shadow and learn and observe." I went and approached ("Grey's Anatomy" creator) Shonda (Rhimes) and (executive producer) Rob Corn last year and said I'd like to start shadowing this year. They were really both excited. Then, from that, directing the webisodes came about, which went really well. I was amazed that they offered me a full show. It's not small potatoes, you know? I took the full weight of it upon myself and stressed out and lost a lot of sleep over it.

BACK STAGE: HOW DID DIRECTING THE WEBISODES PREPARE YOU TO DIRECT A FULL EPISODE?

McKidd: Well, the biggest thing psychologically was the fact that there wasn't any other person on that set saying the words "action" and "cut." It was less pressure of a situation. I got the chance to get my feet wet before the big show, which was ideal, really. Also, the webisodes, even though they're smaller in scale, essentially are scenes of the show. The preparation and the process to produce them is exactly the same. We went through the same ins and preparation that we did on the show. It gave me a dry run and a prep. They were essential for me. I recommend anybody who's interested in directing do the webisodes, because it gives you that confidence that you've done it once before; maybe not on such a big canvas, but it's still the same process.

BACK STAGE: WHEN YOU WERE IN THE DIRECTOR'S CHAIR, DID YOU HAVE TO TURN OFF THE ACTING SIDE OF YOU?   Continued...