Grey’s Anatomy has its season premiere tonight, but something might feel a bit off. A major character has been recast. Now, before you start thinking it’s a main character, we can confirm that it’s not, but it still is a character that has a major arc in the upcoming 11th season of the veteran ABC show.
As we’ve been hinting at for weeks now, this season with be all about the show’s namesake, Meredith Grey. However, to understand the inner conflicts within the character, fans must understand the complicated relationship she has with her late mother, Dr. Ellis Grey.
Kate Burton, the actress who played Ellis Grey, is now on Shonda Rhimes’ other show Scandal. In earlier seasons, actress Sarah Paulson played a younger version of Burton’s Grey in flashback sequences with a younger Meredith Grey.
When the major storyline was introduced at the end of Grey’s season finale, which revealed that Ellis had a secret daughter hidden from everyone close to her, there was a question if Sarah Paulson would return to reprise her role. At the time Paulson stepped into Ellis’ shoes, she wasn’t in high demand. These days, Paulson is a recurring cast member in the hit FX show American Horror Story.
According to TV Line Paulson’s role has been recast for the upcoming season of Grey’s Anatomy. Instead of Paulson playing a younger Ellis, Army Wives star Sally Pressman will take on the role. As expected, Paulson had a scheduling conflict, as she’s currently filming the upcoming season of American Horror Story.
It’s said that the younger Ellis will appear in two episodes so far this season. We’re expecting to learn more about how she managed to hide a pregnancy from her colleague and fling Dr. Richard Webber, who, like Meredith, will have to deal with an unexpected family member. Webber has always wanted children, and frequently thought of Meredith as the daughter he never had. Their relationship may change now that Webber has a biological daughter.
For some of the series, Meredith has resented Dr. Webber for breaking up her parents’ marriage, but over time she realized that Ellis was going to leave her father, Thatcher, one way or another. It will be interesting to see how both Richard and Meredith react to their blood working in the same hospital now.
Shonda Rhimes has already hinted that it will be difficult for Meredith, given that she had opened up to her half sister Lexie Grey, only for her to die in a tragic accident. Couple that fact with her “person” and best friend Cristina Yang exiting last season, and we could see how it might be difficult for Meredith to open up to her new sister.
As for Kate Burton, she’s expected to also appear in flashbacks as well. Looks like a drama-filled season as usual.
[Image via ABC Studios]