“When I started on the show everybody was like, ‘Hands off Meredith Grey. Don’t you touch her,'” the actor, 30, exclusively told Us Weekly on Thursday, March 12, in promotion of becoming a brand ambassador for outerwear clothing brand Nobis.
Gianniotti joined the show as a guest star in season 11 before he was promoted to a series regular in season 12. He explained that Andrew wasn’t originally meant to start a romance with Meredith but the writers flipped the script a few years later after seeing the off-set chemistry between him and Ellen Pompeo.
“I was like, ‘Meredith Grey, that’s not what I was brought on the show for. I’m just the new intern,'” he recalled. “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.'”
He added that portraying someone in a romance with a female character as strong as Meredith was challenging.
“I think for my character it’s been complex because it’s how do you handle a woman that’s that powerful?” Gianniotti told Us. “As a young man, it’s intimidating. She’s so accomplished in her career as a surgeon. She has an ex-husband she was widowed by, she has children. This is a lot for a character who is roughly 30 years old, like I am, to take on.”
However, Gianniotti said that Grey’s Anatomy fans have been “kind and gracious” towards him as Andrew and Meredith’s romance has blossomed. He added that it’s been “really great” to play a younger man in a relationship with an older woman — a trope that usually is the other way around.
“It’s always the much older man with a much younger woman,” the Selfie alum said. “We’ve seen it time and time again. So it’s cool to see that flipped on its head and to not really draw attention to it. To just be like, “This is normal.'”
Grey’s Anatomy has undergone other major cast changes over the seasons — including the most recent departure of Justin Chambers (Alex Karev). The ABC series bid farewell to Alex on its March 5 episode after 16 seasons.
Gianniotti told Us that it was hard for the cast to say goodbye to Chambers, 49, but admitted that the actor had a good run on the show.
“We’re sad to see him leave, but he’s been playing this guy for 16 years and we totally respect that he wants to have some time with his family,” he said. “He’s got five kids, he’s got a lovely family and he wanted to explore the opportunity. So, we couldn’t be happier for him.”
In addition to opening up about Grey’s Anatomy, Gianniotti also shared with Us why he chose to partner with Nobis.
“They’ve really taken function in fashion very seriously,” he explained. “So a jacket that looks good but also interacts with the user and has a lot of really useful pockets and really cool things that go overlooked a lot in fashion.”
With reporting by Marc LupoListen on Spotify to Watch With Us to hear more about your favorite shows and for the latest TV news!
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