“I was told that the show had too many characters and that they needed to downsize because they couldn’t service all of the characters effectively. They didn’t want any of us to be left in the background and not getting much of a story,” Drew, 37, told The Hollywood Reporter in her first interview since being let go from the ABC drama. “[Showrunner] Krista Vernoff said that she felt like April had been through so much and had come out the other side and that she didn’t know what she could put her through again. It was really hard to hear that. But Krista had a lot of very complimentary things to say about the work that I had done — especially this past season — and that April was going to have her happy ending.”
The news broke in March that both Drew – along with costar Jessica Capshaw – would be let go from the show after nine years. The actress revealed that she was shadowing Kevin McKidd (who plays Owen) on set for an episode he was directing when she found out the news.
“It was in the afternoon and I went back to my trailer and I did my crying and called my people. A whole bunch of people came into my trailer to give me hugs and cry with me and tell me they were so sad I was leaving,” she said. “I was supposed to be shadowing Kevin this whole episode with the hope that I would get to direct an episode of Grey’s but [after being let go] it seemed like wasn’t a possibility anymore.”
Still, she continued to shadow McKidd until getting cast in CBS’ Cagney & Lacey – a pilot that did not get picked up to series. However, landing the new job helped get her back into a positive headspace. She also later got an Emmy nomination for B-Team, a Grey’s Anatomy webseries, which helped as well.
“My confidence had gotten a bit shaken in the wake of being let go and the nomination after the fact made me go, ‘I don’t need to be worried about anything or have my confidence shaken,” she told the magazine.
April’s final episode included her quitting her job to do “God’s work” and marrying Matthew (Justin Bruening), but part of her was still holding out hope for a happy Japril ending.
“In the midst of it, I was devastated that Jackson (Jesse Williams) and April wasn’t an end game. I thought Jackson and April were meant to get back together and they were going to get married again and realize they’d been crazy and it was just going to be this long, slow burn. But after thinking about it, there’s a real sweetness to that story of April’s faith,” she said. “She ran off with Jackson and loved him and wouldn’t regret a single second of that relationship because it made her heart grow and she got a beautiful daughter out of it. She grew as a woman and as a person of faith. All of that had to happen. But there was something beautiful about the redemption story between April and Matthew.”
As for Drew’s future as April – either on the Grey’s Anatomy spinoff, Station 19, or as a guest star on Grey’s, she’s undecided if she’d be up for returning. She also admitted she doesn’t have any plans to watch the show.
“There is something about watching your family go on without you that’s a bit painful,” she revealed. “I’m not sure I need to put myself through that. I love them and I’m sure it’s going to be a great season but I think it might be challenging for me to tune in.”
Grey’s Anatomy returns to ABC Thursday, September 27, at 8 p.m. ET.
For access to all our exclusive celebrity videos and interviews – Subscribe on YouTube!