She’s best known for her Golden Globe winning role as Dr Cristina Yang in Grey’s Anatomy, but Sandra Oh is about to take a break from the long-running hospital drama series to play a British detective in Sky1’s gritty crime thriller, Thorne. Stylist meets the actress, 39, on English soil
How does Thorne: Scaredy Cat compare to Grey’s Anatomy?
It’s a very different drama in a very different setting and probably the most challenging role I’ve ever played. It’s a dark, gritty psychological drama and my character is deeply flawed.
Having spent the past six years in a long-running series, is it nice to be pushed out of your comfort zone?
Yes and no. It’s nice to do something different because I haven’t really done anything [since Grey’s] – I’ve been too tired! But at the same time, it’s been crazy. I touched down in Britain a couple of days before we started filming and had no time to prepare. I hadn’t even seen the script.
How did you cope?
I didn’t! I had a total meltdown. I was literally on the floor going, “I don’t know what I’m doing!” My driver, Simon, had to constantly pour me cups of tea, so I got over it in a very English way.
Have you enjoyed your time in London?
I love it. I want to come back and do a play. But I’ll tell you straight up: you guys can drink in a way I’ve never experienced...
You’re originally from Canada...
Yes, I come from a very classic, close knit, first generation Asian immigrant family. My parents are religious and have a huge focus on education. My sister’s a lawyer and my brother’s a doctor.
Were they disappointed you became an actress?
I play a doctor on TV, honey. It doesn’t get any better.
Are you comfortable with playing darker characters?
I think having had a good childhood helps. I have a strong centre, so I can move off that centre point and my family will always bring me back down to earth.
You had to speak with a British accent for the Scaredy Cat role. Did you struggle at all?
Yes, it definitely took a bit of getting used to! I practiced by talking to my 6-year-old niece on the phone while in character but she knew who it was straight away. That’s when I realised I still had to work on the accent!
Have you noticed any big differences between British and American dramas?
You’ve got to let go of your vanity over here – no one is going to make you look good! The soaps in America depict wealthy people who are rich and gorgeous, while over here it’s all about people who are unemployed in east London.
Are you working on any other projects at the moment?
I’m working on two other things; the first is a kid’s programme called Ramona and the other is Rabbit Hole, based on a David Lindsay play. It's about a husband and wife (played by Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart) whose child has died. I play another parent in their grief counselling group.
Did you enjoy working with Nicole and Aaron?
It was an intense project so it was tough at times – it wasn’t luxurious in any way. It was great to work with them, but the subject matter meant there wasn't many laughs on set.
Do you have an ideal role?
I’d love to get into theatre and be in a few plays, maybe even in the West End. I feel like I haven’t seen enough of London and I’ve really enjoyed being here – hopefully I’ll be back soon!
Thorne: Scaredy Cat starts on Sunday 31 October at 9pm on Sky 1 HD and Sky 1
Picture credit: Rex Features
Words: Megan Conner, Amy Grier