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Chyler Leigh on <i>Grey’s Anatomy</i>‘s Musical Episode: ‘This Is So Not About <i>Glee</i>‘

This week, Grey's Anatomy embarks on a time-honored departure episode tradition: the musical episode. Featuring the cast singing songs that have defined the show over the years, "Song Beneath the Song" takes place in Callie's post-car-accident mind, so though the episode may be a risk, at least it'll all be just a dream (I'm guessing) in the end. To promote the big event, I talked to Little Grey herself, Chyler Leigh, about the songs, the grind of doing a series for seven long years, Lexie's new relationship with Avery and more. Read on for the whole shebang.

Fans are very excited for the musical episode. Can you tell us who's singing what?
Chyler Leigh: Yeah, we've got "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol -- Sara and Chandra and Kevin are singing that one. We have "How to Save a Life," which pretty much everybody sings that one. And then "Universe & U" between Jessica and Sara, and Chandra sings a really beautiful song -- "Wait" -- which Sara Drew sings a line in and I sing a line in. And then I sing "Breathe (2 AM)" by Anna Nalick and there's also a song "Grace," for which Sara sings the verses and Sarah Drew and I sing the chorus.

Had you sung before?
CL: No.

Was anyone nervous about doing it?
CL: Yeah, there were quite a few people who were nervous about it. But everyone who did end up singing and really wanted to participate in it just kind of left their nerves at the door and went like, "OK, this is a great opportunity and a great experience."

Did anyone refuse to sing?
CL: There were a couple people who were, um, definitely not adamant and excited about singing, and they were still able to participate in the scenes and the episode. There were certain ways in which the scenes were written, even if there was a song in there, that perhaps a line was spoken instead of sung. So it was really cool the way that they incorporated as many people as possible.

So why do a musical episode? Is this a response to Glee?
CL: Oh no, no, no, this is so not about Glee. For Shonda and many of the writers and producers, this has actually been in the works for several seasons. Shonda always wanted to do that and make an episode centered around a musical, but she just didn't quite know what the storyline was going to be yet, and then just happened to find this really beautiful opportunity to do it. We've done a lot of different things over the past few seasons, and have shot very different-styled episodes. I guess you could say you should know when you come to Grey's to expect the unexpected. This was another opportunity to show that we're not just a one-hit wonder and we're not just so formulaic, and that the success of the show is just by continually evolving.

The critical reception has been particularly positive this season. Everybody has their own things they attribute that to, but why do you think that is?
CL: I think it's kind of been a compilation of things. There is an ease this season on-set. I think everybody came just saying, "You know what? We all know that we have to be together all the time, so let's just have fun, let's enjoy everybody's company and let's be gung-ho about the work and excited about what we're doing." Seven seasons is a long time! It's a really long time. It's easy to get really tired and it's easy to sort of fall into a pattern, and I think we just wanted to shake that up this year. And I think the writers did the same thing and I think the creative side of it just really got stepped up several notches this season. It's been a pleasure.

Can you feel that the show is on an upswing, or do actors just not pay attention to any of that while you're filming?
CL: It's really hard to go by all that stuff. It's like, you want to pay attention to the ratings, you want to pay attention to the reviews, but at the same time there's such an ebb and flow to everything. What one person finds brilliant, another person finds ridiculous, so it's so hard to pay attention to that stuff. The criticism is always a difficult thing when it comes to this business, so I think our focus, and mine personally, is always just to do the best that you can, have fun, enjoy your work and just be grateful. Whatever happens, happens.

Lexie has really gone from being just Meredith's little sister to becoming a full-fledged character in her own right. That's been really fun to watch, but do you miss having those sister scenes with Meredith regularly? I feel like I sometimes almost forget that they're related these days.
CL: Right. [Laughs.] I feel like there's something good to that because it's no longer... like if I get recognized out in public, it's less and less of "Oh, you're Meredith's little sister!" and more of "Oh, you're Lexie Grey!" It's almost like that syndrome of having a twin, where you're always "the twins" instead of Jennifer and Jill or whatever. It's like you get grouped with one other person and you're saying, "No, I do have my own personality and I do have my own storylines and I do carry my own qualities" and it's cool that that's being celebrated. But of course, I always love having sister scenes with Ellen and she's a lovely person and we work really well together. I'm always happy when those scenes come into play, because even us, every once in a while we're like, "Um, shouldn't they have some sort of interaction when it comes to this situation considering they're sisters?"

Do you think Lexie is going to continue her relationship with Avery or is she still set on Sloan at this point?
CL: Well, I think that's still kind of up in the air -- at least currently it's still up in the air -- but I will say that at this time she is still definitely enjoying her time with Jackson, and there is something refreshing and really exciting about the beginning of whatever it is that these two have. They care about each other very much, and they're at the same place in their lives and their careers. And they are the same age, essentially. There are so many things about it that should work and makes so much more sense, because with her and Mark it is very complicated. What Mark now wants is the marriage and the house and the kids and all that stuff, and that's just so far out of Lexie's reach. It's not even something that comes into her mind at this point. It's really hard for her to swallow. But, you know, she still loves him. And I think that that's always going to be there, regardless of whether or not they're together. She's always going to love him. And if she gets to go that route, if she kind of sucks up her desires in a sense and wants to go that way, it would take a lot, but it can be done. At the same time, if she wants to just be where she is and enjoy what she's doing, Jackson is an excellent person to be with.

The musical episode airs Thursday at 9/8C on ABC. Share your thoughts below, and see why we think the show is awesome again!

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