Kate Walsh Reflects on Her 'Elder Statesman' Role at 'Grey's Anatomy'

Among many colleagues Walsh credited for the success of the hit ABC medical drama was longtime showrunner Krista Vernoff, who announced this week that she's stepping down from Grey's and Station 19

Grey's Anatomy Recap
Photo: Liliane Lathan/abc

For Grey's Anatomy's Kate Walsh, there are perks to being on a show with longevity.

The former Private Practice star joined Kelly Clarkson on Wednesday's episodes of The Kelly Clarkson Show to discuss her recent return to Grey's as Dr. Addison Montgomery.

"It's incredible to be back," said Walsh, 55. "But the younger set of actors who are the new set of interns, they grew up watching the show. You're like, 'Oh, hi!'"

She continued, "It's funny to be the elder statesman of the show. They're so beautiful, all of them are such great actors."

Kate Walsh poses for a photo during the National Institute for Reproductive Health's Champion of Choice luncheon at The Ziegfeld Ballroom on April 30, 2019 in New York City.
Cindy Ord/Getty

Walsh told Clarkson, 40, she was also thrilled to work with her old colleagues behind-the-scenes again, too.

"The writers, I mean, Krista Vernoff, Meg Marinis, all of them, Jamie Denbo... Krista is Shonda [Rhimes]'s right-hand woman, and they've been there since the beginning," Walsh shared. "They're just incredible, and it's iconic writing."

Walsh's praise comes on the heels of this week's news that Vernoff is leaving Grey's and its spin-off Station 19.

"It has been the privilege of a lifetime to be entrusted to run Grey's Anatomy for the past six years and Station 19 for the last four," Vernoff said in a statement to Deadline. "The passion of the dedicated fandoms and the impact that these shows have on hearts and minds cannot be overstated. The amount of talent in these two extraordinary casts and these two brilliant writers rooms is beyond measure — and these crews work magic week after week."

Krista Vernoff
Phillip Faraone/FilmMagic

Vernoff, 51, joined the show for its debut before leaving temporarily after season 7. She returned for season 14 in 2017 and signed on to also write Shondaland's Station 19 starting in 2019.

Her statement continued, "The last time I left Grey's Anatomy, I was gone for seven seasons and the show was still going when Shonda called me to run it. So I'm not saying goodbye because that would be too bitter sweet. I'm saying 'See you in seven seasons.'"

The showrunner is not the only mainstay phasing out of Grey's Anatomy — star Ellen Pompeo announced last year that she would be paring down her screen time as Dr. Meredith Grey in order to pursue other projects, including Hulu's televised adaptation of the 2009 horror film Orphan.

GREY'S ANATOMY, Ellen Pompeo, Kate Walsh, 'Oh, The Guilt', (Season 3, airing Oct. 19 2006)
Richard Cartwright/ABC/Courtesy Everett Collection

Pompeo, 53, has played the hit medical drama's title character since episode 1 and was last seen in the fall finale as she told her colleagues she would be moving across the country from Seattle to Boston.

Meredith will make an appearance on the mid-season premiere in late February and will leave her final mark on the show in the season 19 finale, which is also set to be Vernoff's last episode.

But as any Grey's fan — and Walsh herself — knows, the door is certainly open for both women to return to Grey Sloan Memorial in the future.

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Season 19 of Grey's Anatomy returns Feb. 23 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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