Winning Callie back was a cakewalk compared to the uphill battle Arizona faces reinstating herself in the good graces of Grey’s Anatomy fans. Ever since losing her leg nearly two years ago, the sweetheart of Grey Sloan Memorial has committed multiple acts of adultery, discarded lovers as if they were widowed socks and treated her wife like yesterday’s garbage — all because she had the nerve to save her damn life.
The unlikely minx’s biggest critic? Jessica Capshaw herself! On the eve of the ABC drama’s midseason premiere (next Thursday, 9/8c on ABC), the actress opens up about her struggle to portray the darker side of her alter ego, reveals a surprising truth (at least it was to me) about Arizona’s fling with Leah and laments the soapy storyline that never came to pass.
TVLINE | Fans are turning on Arizona. They think she’s being really selfish.
TVLINE | Is it OK for her to be a little selfish?
I don’t know if it’s ever OK for someone to be selfish. Perhaps there’s a time and place to be self-centered, but I think selfish never really wins the race. But Arizona has always been so upstanding. She’s always had such a great moral center and a happy-go-lucky attitude — nothing ever sort of challenged her likability. And when she lost her leg, instead of being someone who focused on the fact that she survived, she was completely focused on what she had lost. I don’t know why she couldn’t get over that, because it seems like a no-brainer, like, “You’re alive! Why wouldn’t you just be thankful you’re alive?’” She couldn’t! And I think it led her down a road to do everything wrong and see what that felt like.
TVLINE | Cue the infidelity…
Yeah. There was someone outside of her little world that actually thought she was, like, a hot little piece. Someone who didn’t know her as the whole person she once was or the disabled person she is now. And then it was just a rabbit hole. And this season has been about her trying to figure out how to climb out of the rabbit hole… You know what’s interesting? Arizona and Leah never even kissed on-screen.
TVLINE | Really?
No! Like, never. The relationship was implied and they were in bed together, but they never kissed. [The affair] never felt like it was really contending with whatever she had with Callie; it was kind of this filler. And so, I think that Arizona — and again, this doesn’t reflect very well on her – unceremoniously started the fling and then sort of unceremoniously ended it.
TVLINE | Arizona is a terrible person.
Something is wrong with her! [Laughs] My heart gets very tender when it comes to playing someone who has wronged someone else. I almost feel like it’s easier for me to play having been wronged than it is to actually feel like you had an active part in hurting someone. So I’ve tried to gloss over whatever Arizona did to Leah, like, “It was nothing! It was fine! It was just a thing!” [Laughs] But, in reality, it’s horrible. And Arizona is her superior. It’s just very messy!
TVLINE | Is she still going to therapy, or did she give that up, too?
What would she possibly need therapy for? What are you trying to say, Michael? [Laughs] I don’t know! Let’s be optimistic and say, perhaps, off-camera she is going to therapy.
TVLINE | OK – let’s give her the benefit of the doubt.
Let’s do that! Sara [Ramirez] and I talk about this all the time, because we’re creating this hyper-real, hopefully fun, yummy, exciting and devastating show. And yet, you want to make sure that part of the ingredients for that recipe are truth and honesty and having a real connection to what you are doing and everything else, and this storyline has been wild because infidelity is terrible! It’s as devastating as it gets; there’s nothing worse in a relationship. Personally, I’m lucky not to have dealt with it, but I can’t even imagine coming back from it. Hats off to [Callie and Arizona] for trying.
TVLINE | Any part of you disappointed they didn’t go Fatal Attraction route with Leah?
I totally thought they were going to! [Laughs]
TVLINE | I was hoping. That would have been so much fun.
Or go Single White Female. Just get her really freaky-deaky. Just have her lurking around every single corner, bumping into you, wearing all the same outfits that you wore. That would have been great.