ABC's Grey's Anatomy is losing one of its original and most beloved stars.
Sandra Oh has opted to exit the medical drama from Shonda Rhimes, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively.
Oh has played prickly doctor Cristina Yang since the series premiered in 2005 and will exit ABC's top-rated drama following the completion of its upcoming 10th season. The actress, who was among the stars who signed new two-year deals in May 2012 to return to Grey's through season 10, instead will pursue other opportunities beyond the series.
"Creatively, I really feel like I gave it my all, and I feel ready to let her go," an emotional Oh tells THR. "It's such an interesting thing to play a character for so long and to actually get the sense that she wants to be let go as well. [Cristina] wants to be let go, and I am ready to let her go. We have to start the process, story-wise, for the Grey's writers to think of why she's going to go."
Oh says she first began thinking about wrapping her Grey's run in May 2012 when what she called the "original six" inked new two-year deals to take them through the 10th season of the series. "I've gone through a lot of therapy over this," she says through tears. "I started thinking about it because I had to prepare myself. I gave myself two years to emotionally let go. At the end of last season, Shonda took me aside and said, 'What are your thoughts?' I said, 'I'm ready.'"
Oh informed her co-stars about her upcoming exit during Tuesday's table read for the show's 200th episode and said the decision "doesn't feel real" yet. "I seriously think I need that much support over processing it over this next year for me to be able to leave fully and leave in a way that I feel like Cristina deserves," she says, noting that Rhimes has supported her every step of the way. "For the first time, at least for my character, you actually have an endpoint, which in series television you never or very rarely have."
"I want this to be a celebration," Oh says of Cristina's final run. "I want us to get to that point where we see this character ride off into the sunset. Letting go of such a huge part of my life … I want to cry right now. Grey's has been the most important role of my life. Playing Cristina and growing her and growing myself in her, I want to usher her into the next section of her life in the best way possible. It's got to be Cristina Yang's happily ever after."