Grey's Anatomy actor Giacomo Gianniotti on the show's fandom, his character arc and directorial debut
The Canadian star of Grey's Anatomy discusses his transition from acting to directing on the hit medical drama
This post contains spoilers about Season 17 of Grey's Anatomy.
Before Giacomo Gianniotti joined the cast of Grey's Anatomy as Dr. Andrew DeLuca in 2015, the Canadian actor had never stepped into a gig with high hopes.
Originally, Gianniotti was offered a guest star role on the long-running medical drama, but as a fan favourite, he was promoted to series regular in 2016. He immediately stopped bouncing around different Airbnbs and found an apartment in Los Angeles.
"I'm a classically trained theatre actor," Gianniotti told host Tom Power in an interview on CBC Radio's Q. "So once I started breaking into television and film, it was always small little jobs. This is my first really long-standing job that I've ever had in my career."
WATCH | Giacomo Gianniotti's full interview with Q's Tom Power:
Grey's Anatomy is one of network TV's greatest success stories, running for 17 seasons. The show helped turn Ellen Pompeo, Sandra Oh and Patrick Dempsey into household names — and it's had a huge effect on Gianniotti's career as well.
"When I joined, it was already a tremendous show," he told Power. "And so joining that, you know, you sort of — you really do join this massive fandom. People who grew up watching it are now watching it with their kids."
Gianniotti, who was born in Rome, said he thinks Grey's Anatomy is even more successful abroad than it is in North America.
"Going to get a cup of coffee in L.A. is not so much of a big deal," he said. "But in Italy, it's like, if somebody sees me in Rome or something like that, they're like, 'Oh my God!' And then it's like, within half an hour, there's a crowd of people, and they've all called their friends."
A conclusion to Dr. DeLuca's story and a new beginning for Gianniotti
In the Season 17 episode Helplessly Hoping, Gianniotti's character dies on the operating table after being stabbed in his attempt to pursue and expose a sex trafficker.
The actor was sitting at home when he got the call from executive producer Debbie Allen, who asked him to come into the office.
"I stopped by, and Krista Vernoff, our showrunner, was also in the room," recalled Gianniotti. "We sat down, and they just said, 'Hey, look, we've been trying a lot of different stories and arcs for this season and we've kind of tried this a thousand different ways. We just kind of keep coming to the same conclusion that this is a beautiful story, and we really want to tell it — and unfortunately, the story that we want to tell ends in DeLuca's demise."
The conclusion to Dr. DeLuca's story highlighted the character as a hero and allowed the showrunners to shine a light on the real-world issue of human trafficking.
"I just really didn't see any cons. I only saw pros," said Gianniotti about the decision to kill off his character.
One of the pros was that it gave the actor more time and opportunity to direct — something he said he had always been fascinated with. After sharpening his skills, Gianniotti made his directorial debut on the Grey's Anatomy episode titled Sorry Doesn't Always Make It Right.
'[I] told my executive producer, Debbie Allen, that I was ready. And she was like, 'OK, you can have an episode next season.' And that was, you know, this season. And yeah, it was everything I wanted it to be and more."
Amid speculation that the series may finally be coming to a close, Gianniotti said he thinks Grey's Anatomy could continue "forever" — if that's what the showrunners decide.
"The writers are just bringing stories of cutting-edge medicine and then socially relevant issues, and there's no shortage of socially relevant issues that we should be talking about or addressing," he said. "And so that kind of model can be carried forward, I think, for a very long time."
Written by Vivian Rashotte. Interview produced by Mitch Pollock.