When Grey’s Anatomy filled Grey Sloan’s vacancy with the handsome and scruffy-looking Dr. Nathan Riggs (Martin Henderson), many fans assumed that he was the new McDreamy. Put down your pitchforks and keep reading.
The feeling was only bolstered by Riggs’ first real interaction with Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) taking place in the famed elevator, which was the setting for many sexual tension-filled scenes between Mer and Der (Patrick Dempsey) that culminated in a spectacularly sweet proposal.
With the tension already ripe between them — Riggs may have done something to Owen’s (Kevin McKidd) sister? — could something romantic eventually go down? “I think that’s a natural assumption,” Henderson tells EW. “In some ways, I can’t help but feel a lot of that is fueled simply by the timing of Derek’s departure and Riggs’ introduction. The crossover of that, it’s natural to connect the two, whereas they’re not related in that sense.”
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And yet, the Shondaland vet — Henderson also starred on the short-lived Off the Map — recognizes that the fans theorizing in the first place has become fertile ground for Grey’s Anatomy to work with. “The writers are more than likely to play with that assumption and expectation, yet I think they’re also smart enough not to play into the hands of it, because I think that’s too obvious,” he says. “At this point, knowing how Shonda [Rhimes] and the writers construct the stories and the relationships, anything is possible. A lot of what Shonda looks for when she starts writing characters is looking for the natural chemistry, and seeing what she finds thrilling in the dailies and she really does write to what’s organically happening between actors.”
Though the show jumped ahead more than a year after Derek’s death, Henderson believes it’s still far too soon for Meredith to move on. “There’s definitely a possibility, but it’s way too early to tell,” he says. “Obviously from Meredith’s point of view, it’s way too early to even entertain that idea. If something like that would eventuate, it would be a while away.”
Grey’s Anatomy returns Thursday, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.