Cosmopolitan: When did you find out that Jo has this big secret?
Camilla Luddington: I didn’t know specifics for a really long time. Last season, Shonda [Rhimes, the creator] and I did have a conversation about diving into Jo’s past. In the finale of season 9, Jo does reference past abuse, and I had never known what that was. And I don’t know if they even knew then what that would end up being. So we had that conversation about trying to explore that, but I didn’t know when that was going to happen.
When I sat down for the table read for the episode, I found out everything — that Jo isn’t her real name, that she has a past marriage, that he abused her, that she was still technically married. That was all at the table read. And nobody else knew either! People think that we know a lot of stuff ahead of time, but [the writers] enjoy us finding out at the table read. So there was like actual shock and Justin [Chambers, who plays Alex] was sat across from me, and he just shook his head in, like, complete disapproval! I was like, “I’m so sorry! I didn’t know!”
Obviously there are reasons for Jo to be really private about this, but it’s not like it’s something she’s done wrong. Why is she so afraid to tell Alex?
CL: Actually, right after the table read, I called the writers as I was driving home. It was swimming in my head and I had so many questions about it. I wondered why she hadn’t told Alex. They described it to me as — so, this person [that Jo is married to] was super charismatic, everyone loved him, and he’s beyond manipulative and beyond dangerous. She felt like her life was in danger when she left him and changed her identity so he couldn’t find her. He’s the type of person where if he did find her, whoever she’s with would also be in danger. And I think what she thought might happen with Alex is if she told him, he would have some sort of knee-jerk reaction and try to go after him or find him, in a way to protect her, but maybe not in the safest way to handle the situation. Then seeing Alex assault Andrew demonstrated that, in the heat of the moment, Alex can make really bad decisions.
Do you think that Alex and Jo are good for each other? I think about it all the time.
CL: You do? What’s your opinion? I’ll say mine, but I’m interested in yours.
I am…not necessarily a fan of them together. I think they both have great intentions, but they seem to trigger these insecurities or strong negative feelings in each other, and they have such a hard time communicating.
CL: Well, I think there are pros and cons to them being together. I think the pro is that they’ve had very similar experiences growing up. And actually, before these recent events, we’ve seen them be very understanding and not judging of each other’s pasts. I also think that the knowledge of the past for each of them helps them know when to dig deep and jab, in a way that’s extremely painful. They both put a wall up. But it’s hard not to root for them, because at the same time, they’re really in love with each other! But it’s so frustrating — Justin and I do scenes together where we get so frustrated because they can’t communicate or they aren’t listening or they just interrupt each other. But of course, that makes for perfect Grey’s Anatomy drama! It would be solved in an episode — or maybe two — if they did ever listen to each other. I don’t know if they’ll ever be good at communicating. But I root for them, even though I understand why some people think they can’t be together.
You and Justin have been working pretty closely together for most of your time on the show.
CL: Yeah. On a show like Grey’s Anatomy, when you shoot 10 months a year, 24 episodes, it’s hard not to get invested in your onscreen relationship. And so when we get to set, those [argument] scenes end up being really painful to film. There are a lot of times where at the end of a scene, we’re hugging and saying, “When are we getting back together? Please, please!” We feel that way, but the interesting thing about Grey’s Anatomy is that it almost feels like the relationships are a game of chess. You can be picked up where you feel safe and put somewhere else. You have to be ready for your TV life to be in turmoil at any point. I love working with Justin. We’re both so invested in this relationship… Sometimes it’s difficult, though, because he’s the one person on set who makes me laugh in my scenes. I feel so bad for the crew sometimes, because I can get the giggles just looking at him. It’s not very professional.