‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Showrunner Previews “Back To Basics” Season 20: Ellen Pompeo’s Presence, Jessica Capshaw’s Return, Natalie Morales’ Arrival & … Scott Speedman’s Hair

The wait is almost over. Nine months after the Season 19 finale of Grey’s Anatomy aired on ABC, Season 20 of the venerable medical drama created by Shonda Rhimes premieres on the network this Thursday, March 14. The new season has veteran Grey’s Anatomy writer-producer Meg Marinis at the helm as new showrunner, succeeding Krista Vernoff. It will bring back Jessica Capshaw, reprising her role as Dr. Arizona Robbins, and Alex Landi, returning as Dr. Nico Kim, with Natalie Morales and Freddy Miyares joining in recurring roles as pediatric surgeon Monica Beltran and patient Dorian, respectively.

“It’s the Grey’s Anatomy that fans have been missing for a year,” said Marinis. I’m sad it’s been so long, but we’ll come back, and we’ll come back as strong as ever.”

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As revealed in the trailer released by ABC, Season 20 will pick up in the immediate aftermath of the Season 19 finale, which saw Teddy collapse, the interns get in precarious situations, and two couples, Meredith & Nick and Jo & Link, come clean about their feelings.

In an interview with Deadline, Marinis previews Season 20 and reveals its theme. She discusses how much we can expect to see Grey’s Anatomy star/executive producer Ellen Pompeo, who scaled back her on-screen presence last season. Marinis also teases Arizona and Nico’s returns and how Morales’ and Miyares’ characters will fit in.

In the interview, Marinis also speaks about the big final crossover with Station 19, which will involve another “catastrophe,” and whether Jason George and Stefania Spampinato could return to Grey’s after the spinoff series ends. (Read our story here). She also addresses whether Season 20 could be Grey’s last. Check back after the premiere for Deadline’s postmortem interview with Marinis.

Pompeo, who continues to get top billing among Grey’s series regular cast, is featured prominently in the Season 20 trailer and has a major presence in the premiere, written by Marinis who also penned the Season 19 finale.

DEADLINE: Ellen Pompeo is not listed as a guest star this season. What is her status on the show?

MARINIS: Her status is that she’s always a huge part of the show. I don’t know the answer to your question about why they choose to list it that way. But we have an open door policy with her. When she is able to be here, we welcome her with open arms. We work with her schedule, she still does the voiceover.

She was a huge part of the premiere for me, she and I have a great relationship. She’s constantly in my head, her voice. She cares very deeply for the show and even in the episodes that she’s not in, she’s interested to know what’s happening. So, you’ll see her come and go and she will always remain a very important part to the show.

DEADLINE: Can you give us an estimate how much we’ll see of her this season?

MARINIS: I can’t answer that question definitively for now, but I think you’ll be excited to see her in the episodes that she’s in.

Pompeo is believed to be in at least two and as many as four episodes this season. According to sources, while she is technically not a series regular anymore, her top billing reflects the fact that her character Meredith remains the heart of the show, with her voiceover continuing to bookend every episode.

“We have to let her go and do some other things, but she’s still our queen. She’s still our number one,” Grey’s executive producer/director/recurring guest star Debbie Allen said in December.

Scott Speedman on “Grey’s Anatomy”
Scott Speedman on “Grey’s Anatomy”

DEADLINE: Meredith and Nick reconciled in the Season 19 finale. How do you feel about that? Also, what’s up with Scott Speedman’s hair? It’s significantly longer and blonder in the trailer despite the premiere picking up the day after the events in finale?

MARINIS: Well, it’s been awhile since we’ve been on the air. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to shoot the premiere right after we shot the finale, it’s been quite a few months. We do our best to match but we aren’t magicians… yet.

I grew up with Felicity so I’m always a big fan of Scott. We’re just so excited for Meredith and Nick to be together.

For a second consecutive season, Speedman is a recurring guest star on Grey’s. While series regulars are obligated to keep their appearance consistent with their characters, that does not apply to guest stars who can take other jobs.

Grey's Anatomy
Grey’s Anatomy

DEADLINE: How was that decision made to bring back Arizona and Nico? And could we expect other Grey’s characters from the past to come back?

MARINIS: We could always be expecting people to come back from the past. It’s a 20-season show, we’ve got so many people that we’d love to have come and go.

Jessica, it had been so long since we had seen that character. We’re constantly having pitches come up in the writers room, I’m always asking them to think of people that we can see again because it’s such a nice way to honor the show. And also, our show is about teaching and learning.

We’ve got these new interns and she is an innovative surgeon in fetal medicine and she also has the peeds element to her, so I thought, how interesting for her to come back and see this new class. I think there’s got to be so much fun to be had.

I think everyone is going be really happy to see her, we show a lot of the things that people loved about Arizona, her humor, her hard work as a doctor, her teaching, her friendships with the people that she loved at Grey Sloan. And it was such a joy to have Jessica back on set. It was like she’d never left, it was a seamless transition.

DEADLINE: Can you tease how much we’ll see of Arizona and Nico? Is it one-offs or could there be more episodes?

MARINIS: Jessica is one episode, yes.

DEADLINE: Will Levi and Nico rekindle their relationship? The last time Levi broke things off he was spiraling following the death of his patient. Grey’s is known for tying loose ends and giving couples closure. Will we see that with Levi and Nico?

MARINIS: With Levi and Nico, you will see how they interact with one another now that time has passed. They’ve both done a lot of growing in between seeing each other. Nico is not the same Nico that we saw, it’s been some time. Also Levi has done a lot of growing up as a doctor and he’s had a couple of romantic things happen since Nico. And I think seeing each other in these different parts of their lives, it’s really nice. It’s a great story for Levi.

DEADLINE: There is a new recurring character, Monica, played by Natalie Morales, which was introduced in the trailer. She gets off to a bumpy start with Amelia after a run-in in the parking lot. What can you tell us about how the new doctor will fit in at Grey Sloan?

MARINIS: Natalie Morales’ character, she’s a no-nonsense pediatric surgeon so she’s going to butt heads with our doctors because our doctors are about nonsense, right, if you watched the finale, but it’s going to be really fun. She’s not like any of our doctors, and that’s going to create some conflict and tension at the top. And I think that’s what we saw in the trailer, the beginning of that character butting heads with the doctors.

DEADLINE: There was a moment between Amelia and Monica when they were properly introduced. Could there be a romance between the two?

MARINIS: You never know who will be romantic with who. This is Grey’s Anatomy, there’s always going to be some of that.

DEADLINE: What about Freddy Miyares’ Dorian, how will he be introduced?

MERINIS: Oh, he’s great, he’s so wonderful. He goes along with the story with the interns and their teaching and learning. So you’ll see him mainly with the interns.

DEADLINE: What is the overall theme for Season 20 and how has it been for you in this new role as showrunner?

MARINIS: It’s a dream come true. I’ve been here for a long time, watching Krista and Shonda and the mentorship here has been pretty amazing. I feel like I’ve been training for something and I finally got here. Well, it came and then there was the writers strike but [we started after that.]

I think a theme for the season is back to basics for these interns. Just like you recover from an illness, these interns have a recovery to go through.

And so much of what happened at the end of last year’s finale continues throughout this season. We really don’t just forget about it. Everything still weighs on everyone and how they can truly move forward and not make the same mistakes again.

DEADLINE: Could Season 20 be Grey’s Anatomy‘s last? Are you working on it with that possibility in mind?

MARINIS: I’ve not been informed that this is the last season so I’m going to keep going and telling stories as long as they let me. We still have stories to tell. We receive a tremendous amount of support from the studio and the network and from Shondaland. So I’m going to keep going until they tell me to put that pen down.

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