Grey’s Anatomy season 17 spoilers follow.
Grey’s Anatomy may have said goodbye to Andrew DeLuca – but the actor who plays him, Giacomo Gianniotti, is back for this week’s US episode. No, DeLuca isn’t being brought back from the dead. Giacomo was actually on set as director.
The episode, titled ‘Sorry Doesn’t Always Make It Right’, is Giacomo’s first time directing for primetime television, and it was something he’d spent years preparing for.
“I definitely wanted to make that step forward, and so three years back, I asked for a meeting with Debbie Allen, our executive director,” he explained in an interview with Digital Spy.
“She said, ‘Okay, start working and start shadowing’. So I spent three years shadowing different directors and studying and doing a tonne of training.
“And she decided finally I was ready and handed me an episode this season. I worked my ass off on it, and I’m really proud of it. I hope everybody enjoys it.”
Giacomo shared that he was always been interested in going behind the camera. He has experience directing short films and music videos, and describes himself as a “big film nerd”. The shadowing he did helped him prepare for the episode, but he didn’t take anything for granted.
“My strategy in directing – because I lack experience compared to a very veteran director, my superpower was preparedness and readiness,” Giacomo said. “I prepared extensively in my preparation for the episode, so that no matter what challenge arose, I was able to pivot easily and without getting stressed out about it.
“As any shoot does, I had things that went wrong and that couldn’t be done in a way that we had planned. So there were a lot of times where I had to pivot, but I was ready for all those moments and handled them with grace.
“I hope that’s a skill that’s going to keep me working as a director.”
These aren’t ordinary times to be directing an episode, either. The show’s 12-hour work days have been cut to 10 hours as a result of the ongoing pandemic, for example.
COVID restrictions have made things take slightly longer too, but Giacomo added: “Of course, it’s to keep people safe, so we can’t complain. We’re still able to go to work and I’m so grateful.” As for the episode itself, Giacomo described it as classic Grey’s Anatomy.
“I was so excited to receive and read it,” he said. “[We have] a balance of exciting love and romance between some of our characters, we have great medical stories of patients coming into the hospital, and we get a lot of scenes of our characters outside of the hospital with a lot of character development for them.
“This is a very original and true Grey’s Anatomy episode that gets you the romance, gets you the fun, gets you the drama, the exciting surgeries, and all those things that Grey’s Anatomy fans know and love.”
When asked about what it was like to work with his co-stars in a different capacity, Giacomo said that he enjoyed the experience and praised them for having full trust in him.
“Over the years so many times – not just on Grey’s Anatomy but on any show – it’s been tough sometimes to not be on the top of the creative decisions and having to sort of swallow your pride, or maybe make a choice that you don’t totally agree with,” he explained.
“So to be in control of those things and to push these actors in different ways was really exciting for me.
“I’d been with them for seven seasons now, so I know what they can all do. So I really tried my best to make sure that they were making bold choices and that they were really being challenged as actors.
“They were also kind and gracious with me and trusted me implicitly, and I really appreciated that. I had a lot of gratitude that my cast members really showed up for me because it made so much difference how game they were to jump in and absolutely trust me. I’m very grateful to them.”
Finally, Giacomo said that he definitely wants to continue pursuing directing.
“I think there’s a lot of actors that are on shows and they’re like, ‘I’d like to direct an episode’, and then it’s sort of like checking off something on their bucket list. This is not the case for me,” he shared.
“I want a career in directing in Hollywood and elsewhere. I love directing. I love filmmaking. I love filmmakers. I love working with cinematographers and getting a deeper understanding of the cameras and the lenses and the technology.
“Technology in the film world has changed so much. If you think about when Grey’s Anatomy started, it was still shooting on film.
“So if you watch it from the beginning, there was a change in the technology and what the show looks like from the way the cameras were recording it.
“I hope to have a long career in directing and to keep doing this. I’d love to break into features as well and maybe tell some of my own stories.
“This was not a one-off for me in any way, shape, or form. I definitely am very, very interested and passionate about directing.”