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T.R. Knight talks ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

Sweet George may not have stolen Meredith's heart, but he's stolen fans’
/ Source: The Associated Press

Move over, McDreamy: This doctor wants your ex, and he won’t break her heart.

It’s been more than a year since T.R. Knight swapped a stage career for a promising role on “Grey’s Anatomy” as bumbling, puppy-eyed Dr. George O’Malley, one of a team of sexy, multicultural surgeons on the hit ABC series.

Knight’s Everyman alter ego, George, is Seattle Grace Hospital’s resident bleeding heart, wrestling with unrequited love for Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), who pines for Dr. Derrick “McDreamy” Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey).

The 32-year-old Minnesota native spoke to The Associated Press about newfound success, working with stinky animal guts and that steamy post-Super Bowl shower scene.

AP: Why do you think the show is so popular?

Knight: You have a really — excluding myself — fascinating group of actors who are all very different from each other, exceedingly different. You’ve got really good writing and I really like the point of view of our creator, Shonda [Rhimes]. I like her politics, I like what she stands for and I like what she’s trying to do with the show.

AP: Tell us about that scene where you fantasized about showering with your female colleagues.

Knight: I love that. I think it was a great, great way to bring people into the show. But it also made sense because the last episode you left it, George was in bed with Izzie and Meredith. So he’s got a lot of frustrations with that, and so his desires have to come out even subconsciously somewhere.

AP: Was it fun to film?

Knight: Oh, it was a blast! You know, everyone’s really covered up. No one’s completely naked. You get body makeup and so someone’s spreading body makeup on you. I think if you were an exhibitionist, you’d kind of be in hog heaven, but I’m not that person.

AP: So why doesn’t Meredith hook up with George already? Come on.

Knight: I don’t know! That’s a great question for Shonda Rhimes. It’s very interesting, because it’s getting to a point now where George really needs to, like, [get] off the pot already, you know?

AP: Like George says, he needs to stop being a watcher. He needs to be a doer.

Knight: I know! But I think he’s starting to realize it. I don’t know what’s going to happen with the whole Meredith thing. ... The way he’s used to living his life, it doesn’t work.

AP: Well, a lot of fans are pulling for him.

Knight: I definitely identify with some of the things, so it’s nice to know that other people do too. Everyone has their things where they think it’s going to be all golden, and right before their eyes it just turns to dirt. You know what I mean? And you’re like, ‘Wait a second. This was supposed to be a great night! That was supposed to be a great date!’ And all of a sudden, you go home and you’re going to the chocolate or the alcohol or however you cure yourself.

AP: Unlike George, do you have luck with the ladies?

Knight: I have ladies and ladies and ladies and ladies. No, I’m pretty much with the show. You can’t even have a pet. The pet would be dead.

AP: What’s your favorite George moment?

Knight: I like the relationships that he has. I really like the relationship he has with Izzie. I think they have a really interesting kind of dynamic. It’s just a blast working with Kate Heigl. The relationship that’s developing with him and Bailey I think is very interesting. So I tend to look at it that way, instead of specific moments.

AP: What would you be doing if you weren’t an actor?

Knight: That’s difficult because nothing else ever clicked. I was not the best student. I didn’t apply myself, as they say, very well. I think, you know, as an actor, unless you’re exceedingly lucky and you’re one of the golden few, a lot of your life you’re unemployed and a lot of your life you’re poor. You gotta be a little insane and driven and have it be the only thing you want to do.

AP: What’s the weirdest medical term you’ve had to use?

Knight: I don’t know about medical term, but the weirdest animal product we’ve had to deal with is intestines, sheep intestines. And they don’t smell too good. The thing is also, after eight hours of doing a scene with it, you do get kind of numb to it. It’s like perfume that is too strong. Eventually, you stop smelling it and you’re eating chicken soup next to it. But first, you kind of wonder how you’re gonna necessarily not pull a face while you’re doing a scene and be revealed for the fraud that you are. That you’re not really a doctor. Luckily, we’re wearing masks, so some of our grimaces are covered up.