Giacomo Gianniotti admits that he initially had some concerns about playing the boyfriend of Ellen Pompeo‘s longtime character, Meredith Grey.
The Grey’s Anatomy star sat down with Us Weekly and dished about the way his character has changed over the years. The actor and brand ambassador said when he joined the cast in Season 11 as Dr. Andrew DeLuca, he was initially worried about how his character would be received due to the show’s history. He also said his insecurities only increased when the writers shared that Andrew would be Meredith’s new love interest.
“When I started on the show everybody was like, ‘Hands off Meredith Grey. Don’t you touch her,'” he remembers.
Gianniotti said, when he was first brought on, there were no signs that Andrew and Meredith would be a couple. At the time, DeLuca was still an intern on the series and Meredith was the chief of general surgery, a widow, and a mother to three children. However, he says the idea came about when the writers saw how he and Pompeo interacted when the cameras weren’t rolling.
“I was like, ‘Meredith Grey, that’s not what I was brought on the show for. I’m just the new intern,'” Gianniotti remembers. “And then I totally put my foot in my mouth because years later Krista Vernoff, our showrunner, came to me and said, ‘I want to explore a romance between you and Ellen. I think it would be really great. You guys are such good friends. I always see your chemistry on set, you guys fooling around with each other and playing pranks with each other and just having a good time.'”
Gianniotti also dished that the age dynamic was “intimidating” to portray for his character. He explained that, while most shows often explore an older man and a younger woman together, Grey’s encouraged the romance between a young surgeon and a more established one. Gianniotti said for his character, being in a relationship with a strong character like Meredith has also been a challenge. He did share, though, that it has been easier for him to portray as the seasons have gone on.
In addition to him becoming more comfortable with the romance between Meredith and Andrew, he shared that the fans have given a positive response to them as well. The romance is Meredith’s first long-term relationship since falling in love and marrying Dr. Derek Shepard (Patrick Dempsey). The pair’s relationship lasted for 11 seasons before the character was killed off in 2015.