It looks like Dr. Erica Hahn is about to hang up her scrubs on “Grey’s Anatomy” – for good.
The hit ABC show has parted ways with actress Brooke Smith, who plays the ever-outspoken Hahn, Access Hollywood has confirmed.
A personal publicist for Smith confirmed the news to Access Hollywood.
Entertainment Weekly’s Michael Ausiello, who was the firs to report the primetime shocker, said the decision to cut ties with Smith was not show creator Shonda Rhimes’ call, but rather execs at the network who reportedly did not like the direction her Hahn character had taken.
Since debuting on the show last season, the unabashed Hahn had taken Seattle Grace by storm, even engaging in the show’s first significant gay relationship along with Callie Torres (played by Sara Ramirez).
But in a statement to Access Hollywood, Shonda Rhimes said Smith’s departure was not related to the gay story line.
“Brooke Smith was obviously not fired for playing a lesbian,” Rhimes said in the statement. “Clearly it’s not an issue as we have a lesbian character on the show — Calliope Torres. Sara Ramirez is an incredible comedic and dramatic actress and we wanted to be able to play up her magic. Unfortunately, we did not find that the magic and chemistry with Brooke’s character would sustain in the long run. The impact of the Callie/Erica relationship will be felt and played out in a story for Callie.”
But don’t expect Callie to move on immediately.
“I believe it belittles the relationship to simply replace Erica with ‘another lesbian,’” Rhimes’ statement continued. “If you’ll remember, Cristina mourned the loss of Burke for a full season.”
In an interview with Ausiello, following the news of her dismissal from the show, Smith said it came as a shock when she first found out she wouldn’t be on the show anymore.
“I was very excited when they told me that Erica and Callie were going to have this relationship. And I really hoped we were going to show what happens when two women fall in love and that they were going to treat it like any heterosexual couple on TV,” Smith told EW. “And so I was surprised and disappointed when they just suddenly told me that they couldn’t write for my character any more.”
If, in fact, it was her character’s storyline, particularly her lesbian relationship, which bothered network execs, it certainly wasn’t a sentiment shared by her castmates or fans of the show, according to Smith.
“At work I had no sense of it. And more fans seemed to like it than not. I don’t think I’m ever going to know [why this really happened],” the actress added. “I don’t know for sure, but it definitely seemed like [Shonda’s] hands were tied. That was just my gut.”
As it turns out, Smith heard about the decision over a month ago.
“I found out in mid-September soon after shooting the monologue that aired last week where Erica has the revelation that she’s gay. They even came down and told me it was a great scene…one of the best they ever shot on the show,” Smith continued. “I was floored when they told me [I was being let go]. It was the last thing I expected.”
Fans of the show and of Dr. Hahn will have one last chance to watch the surgeon in action, when Smith’s final episode airs Thursday, Nov. 6.
“When they told me I asked, ‘When is this happening?’ And they said, ‘The [next episode] is your last,’ which is the one that airs this Thursday. So it was very sudden,” Smith revealed.
So how exactly will Dr. Hahn bid farewell to the folks at Seattle Grace?
“I’m not written out. My final scene is just me heading to my car;” Smith revealed. “I honestly don’t know what happens in the next episode. I heard not much.”
When contacted by Access Hollywood, a spokesperson for ABC was not immediately available for comment.
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