There’s honestly nothing sadder than an unexpected departure of a series regular from your absolute favorite TV show. You watched them through your awkward high school years, that terrible breakup and the time you had to grow out the bangs you cut yourself. When your life was tragic, you knew their life would be even more tragic in next week’s episode. It’s quite a comforting fact to realize.
When Sarah Drew’s character April Kepner left Grey’s Anatomy last April, it was pretty heartbreaking. She’d been on the show for nine years—that’s almost half my lifetime. And although most of us probably binge watched Grey’s upon discovering it, the fact that Sarah had been on there for so many seasons is pretty astounding. With season 15 of Grey’s returning to ABC on Thursday, September 27, April’s exit from the show had been pushed to the back of our minds, until now. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Sarah revealed just how shocked she was about being let go.
While we were in the middle of shooting this scene, just before my coverage, it occurred to me that this was April and Bailey’s final scene together. When I realized it, I had to sing happy songs to myself to keep from losing it while the camera was on me. As soon as we finished the scene, I unplugged myself from all of the wires as fast as I could and ran into Chandra’s arms, and Kelly captured this moment between the two of us. Chandra has been a true friend and mentor to me, as an actor, a director and a human. I admire her strength of character and her determination to choose joy in any and all circumstances. I want to be like her when I grow up ☺️☺️ On my last day shooting, she gave me a goodbye letter that she had written from Bailey to April. It was the most incredible gift I never knew I needed. It helped me gain perspective, reminded me of my worth, and brought everything full circle for me. I love my Chandra. #chandrawilson #photocred @seekellymccreary
“It was in the afternoon and I went back to my trailer and I did my crying and called my people,” she said. “A whole bunch of people came into my trailer to give me hugs and cry with me and tell me they were so sad I was leaving.”
The showrunner, Krista Vernoff, made the decision to give Sarah and co-star Jessica Capshaw the boot at the end of season 14, not out of spite but out of respect. “Krista said that she felt like April had been through so much and had come out the other side and that she didn’t know what she could put her through again,” Sarah said.
Ultimately, the 37-year-old actress was so thankful for the time she had on Grey’s Anatomy.
“I had a profound and incredible season of my life on Grey’s Anatomy. I got to tell stories I believed in. I got to work with Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers and learn from the best,” she said. “It’s hard for me to come up with anything I could be angry about.”
We’ll definitely miss her in the upcoming season, but we’re happy to see what work Sarah commits to in the future.