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Grey's Anatomy: Lexie Grey's Show Return Was Done Entirely By Greenscreen

Over the years, Hollywood has developed some pretty brilliant ways to make things on the screen, no matter how unbelievable, actually realistic. As technology grows, so do these types of tactics when it comes to producing a film or TV series. There are plenty of reasons why these tech tools are used in replace of the typical shoot, usually relating to a production's tight budget or possible safety issues for the actors themselves. But for Chyler Leigh, her character's dream-state return to "Grey's Anatomy" required some technological tricks, not for budget reasons but due to real-world events. That's because when her character, Dr. Lexie Grey, made a return appearance it all happened during the Covid pandemic.

With COVID-19 crossing the globe, productions were forced to come up with strict rules and restrictions in order to keep cast and crew as safe as possible. This combined with already being out of town to shoot "Supergirl," forced Leigh to film all her scenes using a now-widely known filming trick, as she revealed to Access Hollywood.

"It was at the height of Covid, so I couldn't fly back to do the episode with Ellen and with Eric Dane," Leigh explained. "So, I had to do it all on greenscreen." Of course, like any other production that utilizes this tactic, Leigh had to face the challenge of not only having scenes with other actors that weren't actually there, but she also needed to interact with her surroundings as if she was a mime.

Leigh had to push a nonexistent swing

Normally, if "Grey's Anatomy" writers wanted to figure out a way to bring a character back to the show, the only challenge would be to figure out a plotline that allows it to happen. However, due to the pandemic, not only did the crew need to use a greenscreen to shoot Lexie's scenes, but writers had to revolve the storyline around the very reason Leigh had to film that way in the first place. In Season 17, Episode 10 ("Breathe"), Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), suffers from Covid and begins to have fever dreams. One of these hallucinations allows her to interact with her sister who had tragically perished in a plane crash back in Season 8.

For those who don't know, a greenscreen is a solid-colored canvas that hangs behind a scene, allowing an artificial background to be inserted via computer in post-production. Leigh went on to explain that there was one specific scene in front of the screen that required her to pretend she was interacting with objects that weren't actually with her. "Like the scenes where I'm supposed to be pushing her [Meredith] on a swing and there's literally nothing there."

As dramatic as the scene ended up being in the aired episode, the crew behind Leigh's greenscreen shoot couldn't hold in their genuine reactions. "I could hear people laughing hysterically across the stage, and I felt like such a fool," she admitted. "But it worked out!"