I just spoke exclusively with Eric Stoltz about his upcoming three-episode guest arc on Grey's Anatomy, and what he told me about his death-row inmate character sounds downright ominous for Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey)?
Could one of our heroes be in real danger? Get the dish directly from Eric himself...
Eric teases about his character's purpose: "I would have to say that I insinuate myself in between Mer and Der in a way that isn't exactly helpful."
Um, is that because when you put a loaded gun on a table in the first act you have to fire it in the third act, and by extension, if you put a killer in the first episode, he's got to kill someone in the third episode?
Says Eric (with a fair amount of feigned affrontery) about that prospect, "I'm not about to tell you what happens! Why would anyone do that? I wouldn't want to know what happens!" (No wonder Shonda Rhimes loves the man!)
Seriously though, who is this fellow, and how does he fit into Seattle Grace? As Eric tells it, "My character's name is William Dunn, and he's a death-row inmate who came to be at Seattle Grace by the fact that he has a shiv shoved in his back during a fight in the prison yard. The nature of his crime is actually revealed in the show that airs on Thursday night, so I would hate to give it away right now."
Shonda Rhimes invited Eric to appear in front of the camera after his second directorial outing on the show. But the opportunity wasn't what he expected. He says, "My massive ego took over and I, of course, thought [the part] was a romantic hero, someone to come and save the day. When Shonda told me it was a death-row inmate, I was a little bit stunned."
However, Shonda did her usual magic and convinced Stoltz it was still an intriguing part: "She said that people who do truly evil things usually are not evil 24 hours a day. They have friends, they have a life. You should really hate this man for all that he does, but because that part is so well-written, that character gradually works itself into your subconscious, and some deep, disturbing recognition happens." Hmmm...
As for the rest of the transition from director to actor, it was a little...rocky. As Eric tells it, "The cast had some fun at my expense when they realized I was no longer directing and I was merely acting, handcuffed to a bed. Some of them took advantage of that and sadly, in a cast filled with attractive and talented women, I think the person who took the most advantage of my position was Patrick Dempsey. More than once, that man gave me noogies and tickled my feet."
Tickle attack by Patrick Dempsey? You could have worse problems.
Now, what do you think this William Dunn character has in store for MerDer? Are you worried, or are you just excited that your favorite pairing will get some serious screen time? Post in the comments!
Grey's Anatomy returns with all-new episodes this Thursday, Jan. 8, at 9 p.m. on ABC!