Camilla Luddington weighs in on that twist
Credit: ABC/Mitch Haaseth

Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy. Read at your own risk!

Thursday’s Grey’s Anatomy finale finally revealed the reason why Jo Wilson won’t marry Alex — and you probably didn’t see that twist coming.

After surprisingly turning down Alex’s (Justin Chambers) proposal once again, it seemed the end was nigh for the couple fans refer to as Jolex. Lamenting her inability to tell Alex why she couldn’t marry him, Jo (Camilla Luddington) decided to get drunk and reveal the truth to DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti): She’s already married.

Years prior, Jo married a man whom everyone loved, but who secretly abused her, so she ran. If she tried to divorce him, he would find her. In fact, Jo Wilson isn’t even her real name. Unfortunately, the reveal comes out as DeLuca helps a drunken Jo into bed, accidentally falling on top of her just as Alex walks in. Alex responds, well, just about how you’d expect him to: by punching DeLuca. How will this change things with Jolex? And who is Jo Wilson, really? EW turned to Luddington to find out:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Jo Wilson is not Jo Wilson! How long have you known that about her?

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: I really didn’t know much at all. I knew midway through the season that Shonda [Rhimes] was wanting to explore her backstory. I had assumed it was probably going to be relationship-wise maybe with an ex, just because of the lingering question of engagement, but I didn’t know which way she was going. I had no idea until the table read that Jo was married. I had no idea that her name wasn’t Jo Wilson, too. That was completely shocking. Nobody else knew at the table read either, so everyone was gasping at the table read. I still have no idea what her name is. It’s weird, because I feel like she has this [whole other] identity that now I’m questioning everything.

What was your reaction to learning about this abusive past?

I was thinking about this myself in going back and thinking about other moments. I still think that when Alex asked her to marry him around episode 8, she was going into that apartment to break up with him because of where she felt like her relationship was at. Him throwing that in there, I think there was no way she was going to divulge any information about something she felt so incredibly vulnerable about at that point. I don’t think it was the reason why she left him hanging. She wants to see where the relationship was going.

What’s happened is this is a person who has been described to me as very charismatic but extremely dangerous to her. She thinks that filing for divorce papers would out where she is. She’s been living in secret. It would also be dangerous for Alex. So it’s a really sad situation she feels like she’s in where she also cannot tell the person that she’s trying to protect, and therefore might lose them, too. It was really difficult to play. It was really heartbreaking to play. I also feel like it was difficult because she had so many opportunities to maybe, in that finale, tell him, like during that conversation where he’s really grilling her, and she just can’t do it.

Worse, Alex catches her half-naked and drunk in bed with DeLuca. How does that damage the trust between Jo and Alex?

That was the last scene we filmed. We may have even filmed all of that finale in chronological order for me personally. I was glad that it was the last scene that I filmed, because I walked away from the season, and I posted a picture on Instagram, which nobody knew at the time [what it meant]. It’s a picture of me, I dragged my bed covers onto the couch, and I just got into bed, because I literally felt heartbroken myself. I was thinking, “I don’t know how she can recover from this.” She now has so much to explain, not just why she’s been married, or why she didn’t tell him, or that it’s not her real name; now she has to also explain how she got herself in a situation where it looks like cheating, and that she wasn’t cheating. I wonder if it’s just all too much to recover from.

Does this force her hand to be honest about her husband with Alex?

It might, but I almost feel like she’s so terrified about it that I don’t even know if that will. I have no idea. She already thought she’s lost him by the time she gets in that bar with DeLuca. Still, that wasn’t enough to tell him. That’s how frightened she is about it and how much she thinks that she’s also trying to protect Alex. It’s a really sad situation. I remember doing this scene with Justin, I said to him, “I really don’t know how I can recover from this” — I speak like I’m my character — “How do I explain this to you?” He’s like, “I don’t know.” You hope that maybe their love is so strong and so unconditional that it doesn’t break them, but I don’t know how it can’t at this point.

Alex really wants a normal married life. Right now, Jo can offer him anything but. How do you think this is going to change their relationship since this is a lie from the very beginning?

Alex has come from an abusive place himself, which I’m assuming he’s talked to her about, a difficult home life, so I don’t understand why — well, I do understand why she hasn’t told him, but I would feel like, from his point of view, he would think, “Why haven’t you told me that part? Because I would understand.” Again, she feels like she’s protecting him.

Presumably we’re going to meet Jo’s husband.

We don’t know. We have no idea, just like how I literally didn’t know any of this backstory until recently. I want him to come in, and I don’t want him to. I feel like I don’t want want to see him, because I know that’s someone who’s deeply, deeply affected her in a negative way. Then there’s a part of me that wants him to come so that maybe she can really, truly move on from it, because it’s still something that’s really affecting her. It’ll make for a very interesting story line.

Who would be your dream casting to play Jo’s abusive husband?

I think that it’s actually important for him to be charismatic, because he’s described that way. I think that’s interesting, and it also makes him even more of a dangerous person that he’s not obviously someone that’s abusive. I think that’s why she originally fell for him. I hope that it’s someone charismatic.

Jo also fears Alex will go after her husband. If we do get to meet him next season, do you expect that to be the case?

I mean, look at the way Alex went after DeLuca. [Laughs.] I cannot even imagine what he would do to an ex that he knew had been that abusive to her. I can’t even imagine.

Grey’s Anatomy will return this fall on ABC. In the meantime, read our postmortem with Ellen Pompeo and Kelly McCreary on that love triangle twist here, and our postmortem with Caterina Scorsone on Amelia and Owen’s future here. Plus: Sara Ramirez exits ahead of season 13.

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