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Grey's Anatomy Actors Are Given Stunningly Little Prep For Surgery Scenes

By and large, "Grey's Anatomy" episodes are fairly predictable. The minds behind the show have been employing the same tried-and-true formula for years. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) starts us off with a melancholy voice-over, followed by the introduction of patients that the show will focus on. The doctors face many challenges, both professional and personal, and someone needs to be rushed into emergency surgery at least once per episode. The surgery scenes are a staple of the show. When a patient is in dire straits, the doctors get to show off their surgical skills under pressure, while routine operations allow for more casual conversations between colleagues. However, fans might be interested to learn that the actors are given barely any time to prepare for these intricate surgery scenes.

Anthony Hill has portrayed Dr. Winston Ndugu since Season 16, so he's logged plenty of hours in the operating room. In an interview with A BOOK OF, Hill revealed that the actors learn the surgical choreography mere minutes before going on set.

"It's pretty wild that these elaborate surgery scenes this show is known for are taught and explained to the actors literally ten minutes before we shoot it," the actor told the outlet. "That still surprises me, and stresses me out. It's not easy to pull off detailed O.R. scenes with such little prep, but we always find a way."

Every surgery looks a little different, so it's surprising to learn that they come together so quickly behind the scenes.

Grey's Anatomy actors don't get much time to rehearse surgery scenes

The surgery scenes often feature some of the most dramatic "Grey's Anatomy" moments. Many beloved characters have passed away on the operating table, though the doctors have also experienced plenty of close calls and triumphant saves. Beyond the medical drama, the operating room scenes offer a great opportunity for the characters to have more personal discussions. Whether it's a conversation between mentor and student, a gossip session between friends, or a thinly-veiled lover's quarrel, the surgery scenes are sure to move the plot forward. Even though the narrative provides a good distraction from the actual surgery, some cast members have a harder time remembering how to act in the operating room. Giacomo Gianniotti, who played Dr. Andrew DeLuca before the character's tragic death, struggled with memorizing the finer details of performing fake surgery.

"My first surgery was a nightmare," the actor told LitHub in 2021. "There were so many things, general rules that I didn't know about sterilization, keeping everything clean. I was constantly dropping my hands in surgery and Linda Klein would be like, 'Cut, cut, cut! Giacomo, what are you doing? You're dropping your hands! You're not sterile!'"

Surgery scenes provide a great setting for drama, no matter who's holding the scalpel. Now that Ellen Pompeo is no longer a main cast member, it will be refreshing to see some new faces in the operating room, even if fans are outraged by Meredith's lackluster send-off.