Grey's Anatomy: Chandra Wilson On Struggling To Separate The Show From Real Life

There are plenty of actors who will tell you that it's difficult to separate their fictional characters from their real lives. This is bananas, of course — there's a script for the parts where you're playing pretend, and real life is what happens the rest of the time. It's really not that hard to figure out.

You'd think that it would be even easier working on a show like "Grey's Anatomy." The lack of Seattle-based lion attacks and hot-and-bothered brain tumor ghosts would seem like a pretty easy line of demarcation between fantasy and reality. But maybe it's more complicated than that for some actors. Consider the case of Chandra Wilson: she's played Dr. Miranda Bailey on the show since 2005, something that the vast majority of us probably couldn't have done even given the opportunity. We don't have the skillset, the rock-solid relationship with Shonda Rhimes, or the willingness to go all-in on a musical episode about car accidents. But even given Wilson's impressive acumen and remarkable resume, she still struggles subconsciously with maintaining that all-important fourth wall.

When it comes to separating real and make-believe feelings, Wilson told the Radio Times, "One thing I have discovered as an actor, especially with really emotional things that we have to do on the show, is that your body doesn't know the difference." What a harrowing thought.

Grey's Anatomy takes a toll on Chandra Wilson

While Chandra Wilson may know mentally that she's playing a role, it's not always the same physically. "Your body doesn't know that you are acting," she explained to the Radio Times. "So it does sometimes take a minute to calm your body down and tell it, 'no, we were just pretending.'"

Wilson wouldn't be the first performer to express difficulties with setting healthy boundaries between fantasy and reality — there are plenty of actors who were never the same after a role. Recently, Austin Butler made headlines when he revealed that his voice had been forever altered by impersonating Elvis for long periods of time, while Hugh Laurie reportedly still had his limp from "House" as recently as 2021. 

Still, there's a helpful trick that Wilson can use if she ever starts to feel like her body doesn't know what's real and what's "Grey's Anatomy": If she's not actively experiencing what it's like to give birth to a baby in a hospital with an active explosive in it while at the same time her husband has extensive emergency surgery after a severe car accident and then also the building gets set on fire and also sometimes there's an active shooter and other times everyone she knows is in a plane crash? If that's not happening? She's probably in the real world.