Grey's Anatomy star Richard Flood discusses Hayes and Meredith's 'strong connection'
When Richard Flood joined the cast of Grey's Anatomy two seasons ago, his character, pediatric surgeon Cormac Hayes, came to Grey Sloan Memorial with a purpose. Of course he didn't realize it, but Hayes was sent by none other than Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) to be Meredith's (Ellen Pompeo) next love interest. Two seasons later, he and Meredith tried dating for a bit, but his son wasn't exactly a fan. Now Meredith is splitting her time between Seattle and Minnesota, but that's not all: Nick (Scott Speedman) is waiting for her in Minnesota.
EW spoke with Flood about his experience since joining the show, whether we're headed for another Grey's Anatomy love triangle, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I would imagine you were aware of Grey's before you joined the show?
RICHARD FLOOD: Oh yeah. I mean, of course. It seems like the whole world is aware of Grey's. I was aware of it when I was living in Ireland, and now I live in Italy a lot of the time and it's got a huge following in Italy. So yeah, I was very aware of it.
So what made you want to join? Was it specifically this character?
Yeah, well, I got to L.A. and they asked to meet with me. They outlined the character to me, and I thought he was interesting. He had a very strong backstory and was coming from a place that was very vivid in terms of the loss that he had had. They described to me how they were planning on developing it, always subject to change, but they outlined some of the story arc, certainly the first half, maybe, of the first season that I did. So I just thought it was a character with a real story with some depth that could come in and be effective in helping to tell a compelling story.
We haven't had a ton of single dads on Grey's.
Yeah. It seemed like it was something new and fresh and the backstory that he shared with Meredith, I thought was an interesting place for them to be able to connect. So yeah, it had all those ingredients that I was very happy to take and run with.
Not only do you join a massively popular show, but you're thrown right into the thick of it because Hayes is essentially introduced as a love interest for Meredith, picked by her best friend. So I'm curious, what has your experience been with the Grey's Anatomy fandom?
Oh, the fans have been very kind to me. When you come into a show like this, you never really know how it's going to be or if the character that you're portraying is going to be of any interest to people. But I think the fact that he was sent by Cristina Yang was a big help in ingratiating the character with the Grey's fandom. I thought it was interesting that we know that, the fans understand that, but the character doesn't actually know that. The character doesn't know that they've been having these conversations, or that he's been sent there by her. So it was fun to play with that idea that he's oblivious. He doesn't know that he's been thrown into the deep end of the pool.
As a result, I think you got a "Mc" nickname faster than anyone has on this show in a long time.
Yeah, it was a quick one. It's maybe not the most flattering one, but I'll take what I can get. [Laughs]
It's true. McWidow is no McDreamy.
McDreamy, McSteamy, and then pulling up the rear there is McWidow. [Laughs]
There was at one point a McVet. I feel like you're at least better than McVet.
There was a McVet? Okay.
Going back to the romance with Meredith, there's still a flirtation there, but now half her time is in Minnesota. Are we building to a love triangle this year? Because I'm also picking up on vibes with Megan [Abigail Spencer].
Yeah. I don't know how much I can say. I think it's pretty clear that McWidow and Grey have a strong connection, a strong flirtation. I think last season was difficult, obviously, because she was in a coma. So it was impossible to explore the relationship any further except in his reaction to her being in a coma. So I suppose we got to see more of his side of it and maybe how deep those feelings were going, despite us not really being able to play the relationship.
And this season there's a lot of story to tell, so we had to move it on. But these are adult relationships and they're complicated and timing is often very tricky, very difficult. And these characters are always being pulled in so many different directions. There will always be obstacles in the way. And then new characters are introduced, such as Megan comes in, and perhaps there may be a spark there. I mean, it all just depends on where they want the story to go. So I don't know, it could build in many different directions.
I feel like we're seeing Hayes in more scenes with people outside of Meredith, and more and more he just seems like a nice co-worker.
Yeah. When I came in, the character was fairly hardened. He's been hardened by losing his wife. He's raising two kids. He's a pediatric surgeon, which is such a demanding role. And he had built up a pretty significant suit of armor there. He's been softened a bit probably by Grey and also by some of his experiences in the hospital, getting to know people a bit better. He's now more comfortable in the hospital. He's had moments where he's had to reach out for help. He's had other people help him. And he's there, obviously, to be the best doctor he can be, but also as his relationships with other colleagues also deepen, he's there for them as well. But yeah, I think he's a good guy. I think he's a solid guy.
At this point I would be devastated if there was some twist in which he wasn't a good guy.
Yeah, I know. But it's Grey's Anatomy, they always keep you guessing.
How has the medical jargon side of it been for you?
I was most aware of how challenging that would be. But there's such fantastic people on set and medical advisors that break it all down for us and make it very clear of what's happening in the surgery, make it very clear of what we need to be doing, and everything is explained to us before we actually do it. So you feel very confident in the information that you're being given. And your job is really just to absorb it and then deliver it as if you know what you're talking about. So it's fine. It takes a little bit longer maybe on those specific scenes when you've got very, very specific medical jargon that you need to be able to deliver in a confident manner. But it's just about doing the homework, nothing more than that.
We started talking about you joining Grey's. Now that you're in your third season, has this experience been what you expected? Has anything surprised you about being on Grey's Anatomy?
It's been a big life experience because we've moved the whole family here. So we've all moved to L.A., which has been massive. That's been the biggest change and the biggest demand probably on the family. But then in terms of the work, it's funny, you go on to a big show, such a well-known show, but the fundamentals of the work are the same. You're on a set, you're playing a character, you're connecting with the person opposite you and trying to deliver something interesting and dynamic. And that doesn't really change no matter what set you're on, or if you're on a stage. The fundamentals of the job, for me anyway, are always the same. I like to keep it simple and keep it moving. So hopefully that comes across in the work.
Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
Meredith. Alex. Bailey. The doctors are definitely in on Shonda Rhimes' hospital melodrama.