'Grey's Anatomy' star Sarah Drew: Grittier side of April comes out after loss
Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Thursday’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Read at your own risk.
You can’t always get a happy ending on Grey’s Anatomy.
That was true for April (Sarah Drew) and Jackson (Jesse Williams) during Thursday’s episode when they learned that their baby has Osteogenesis Imperfecta Type 2, which causes the baby’s bones to break in utero. April and Jackson decide to induce labor early so the baby doesn’t suffer and can die quietly in their arms. Though April initially has second thoughts, as she hopes for a miracle, she ultimately decides to go through with it, naming their son Samuel Norbert Avery before he dies. What’s next for the couple? EW caught up with Drew to find out:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How hard was it for you to portray this given that you were pregnant in real life at the time?
SARAH DREW: It was really intense, but it also helped me to access all of those things as an actor way more easily than I think I would’ve been able to if I was not pregnant. But it was definitely intense. I remember right after shooting the first scene of this episode where it’s like, “Oh, my baby’s bones are breaking?!” right after we shot that, I woke up two days later and felt like the baby wasn’t moving. I went to the hospital and got put on a monitor. I had a scare and basically saw Geena Davis’ face telling me horrible things about my baby. It was a little bit of a mind mess for sure. It made it all feel very, very real, that’s for sure.
Why did you decide to pitch this storyline?
I wasn’t pregnant yet, so that was one thing. I’m not that dark of a human being. I pitched it accidentally. In an episode in season 10, Catherine Avery makes an assumption about April being pro-life and what her attitude would be as a person who is pro-life. In discussing it with the writers, I had offered a not-so-black-and-white look at how a person of faith might deal with that. That came in the form of a story that happened to my mom’s friend, who was pro-life and they had a baby with O.I. Type 2. They ended up inducing and baptizing baby. Everything that happened on our show happened to my parents’ friends. I had offered that story way back last season. When I read the script where they said April was pregnant, I was like, “Oh, you’re totally going to use that story, right?” And she’s like, “Uh, I wasn’t, but oh my gosh, that’s amazing, we’re totally going to do that now.” Then I got really excited about it because I thought it could be a really interesting and emotional journey, especially for a couple that don’t share the same beliefs. To be able to talk about stuff that’s hard to talk about, help people grieve and maybe have compassion for someone who believes something differently than you do—all that stuff that can come that makes Grey’s Anatomy great—that’s why I pitched it.
April does have a sense of acceptance at the end of the episode, but how much does this change her?
Moving forward, I actually think that in some ways in going through this, she has this miracle happen to her. Jackson goes to pray to a God he doesn’t believe in for his wife, which I find beautiful and amazing, and that prayer is answered in the form of her caring for this woman who just lost her fiancé. I saw the scene of her hugging that woman and saying those words, “You are strong and you will get through this. This is so painful, but you can survive this.” I saw this as God answering Jackson’s prayer to show up. As I was shooting that scene, I felt the sense of, “God is covering April and holding her and he’s walking beside her. He has not abandoned her and he’s not evil, bad and cruel. He’s with her.” That can really allow a person’s faith to mature and grow so much more than if you just follow the rules, do good things and good things happen to you. Having a tragedy like that happen and then feeling God show up for you is something that impacts someone tremendously and actually strengthens her faith.
I will say that moving forward she has a whole lot less patience for things that don’t matter. She has a scene coming up with a patient, where the patient has done something really stupid to himself that landed him in the hospital, and she has absolutely no patience for him—no compassion, no sympathy. She’s been to hell and back. “I’m sorry, if you’re going to do something dumb to yourself, you deserve what happened.” We’ll see a grittier side of her, a bit of a harder shell.
What does this mean for April’s chances to get pregnant again? Will this be something they have a discussion about?
Not as of yet. They’re both just trying to survive and trying to heal and grieve and eventually get back to work. That discussion does not come up.
Amelia went through something similar with her baby on Private Practice. Though we didn’t get any scenes between them in this episode, might this bring them closer?
I hope so. That hasn’t shown up in any scripts yet, but I really, really hope so because I think that could be a really wonderful friendship. I just adore Caterina so much that I would love to work with her.
What’s next for April and Jackson?
It’s back to work and trying to figure out how to do life after having been through a tragedy. Also, as April begins to change, it’s going to be surprising, strange and shocking for Jackson, so it becomes about, “This is who I am right now. Is that okay with you?” And seeing them adjust to what this tragedy has done to both of them.
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.