Grey's Anatomy's Jason George on Justin Chambers' Exit: 'If He Says It’s Time, It’s Time'
"Sixteen seasons on the show, you have to solute that," the Station 19 actor says of his former Grey's Anatomy costar
More than a week after Chambers confirmed his departure from the ABC medical drama, George addressed the cast shakeup. Chambers is one of the few remaining original cast members from the series’ debut season in 2005.
“Sixteen seasons … he’s not the first person to leave the show and he won’t be the last,” George, 47, told PeopleTV on the SAG Awards red carpet on Sunday night. “Sixteen seasons on the show, you have to solute that.”
“That’s an amazing achievement, so if he says it’s time, it’s time,” added George, who joined the cast in 2010 and has since gone on to star in the Grey’s Anatomy spinoff, Station 19.
In a statement to PEOPLE on Jan. 10, Chambers, 49, said about his exit: “There’s no good time to say goodbye to a show and character that’s defined so much of my life for the past 15 years.”
“For some time now, however, I have hoped to diversify my acting roles and career choices. And, as I turn 50 and am blessed with my remarkable, supportive wife and five wonderful children, now is that time,” he continued.
“As I move on from Grey’s Anatomy, I want to thank the ABC family, Shonda Rimes, original cast members Ellen Pompeo, Chandra Wilson and James Pickens, and the rest of the amazing cast and crew, both past and present, and, of course, the fans for an extraordinary ride,” he concluded.
Later, Chambers told Page Six, “I’m very excited [for this new chapter],” and added that it was a hard decision to leave. “Anywhere that you spend 15 years, it’s a big chunk of your life.”
Chambers, who played Alex Karev on the longstanding medical drama, was notably absent from the midseason finale. It was explained in the episode that Karev was absent because he was taking care of his ailing mother.
Fans have been left to wonder what this will mean for Karev’s wife, Jo Wilson Karev, played by Camilla Luddington.
Grey’s Anatomy returns with new episodes on Jan. 23 on ABC.
Watch the PEOPLE, Entertainment Weekly & TNT Red Carpet Live: 26th Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday starting at 5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT on People.com. Stay tuned for the annual SAG Awards airing on TNT and TBS at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.