Sandra Oh Leaving 'Grey's Anatomy'

Oh, who has played Dr. Cristina Yang on "Grey's Anatomy" since the series began in 2003, said she began thinking about her departure when she signed a new deal after Season 8.

"I've gone through a lot of therapy over this," Oh told THR. "I started thinking about it because I had to prepare myself. I gave myself two years to emotionally let go. At the end of last season, ['Grey's creator] Shonda [Rhimes] took me aside and said, 'What are your thoughts?' I said, 'I'm ready.'"

In an official statement, Oh said, "It’s been a great privilege to play the character of Cristina Yang on 'GA' and I am both sad and excited to see where this, her final season will take her. It was an emotional and deeply creative decision for me and I feel fully supported by Shonda and the writers. It's so rare in an actor’s life to be able to explore and grow a character so fully, so completely. I am profoundly grateful to everyone at 'GA' for the opportunity. I’m excited to celebrate and cherish every moment of my final season on 'GA' with the fans who have made it all possible."

The contracts for series stars Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey are also up at the end of Season 10. But that doesn't mean it's the end of the line for "Grey's." “It's our intention to have 'Grey’s' on the air for many years to come, with as many of the original cast as possible," an ABC spokesperson said in a statement, echoing ABC president Paul Lee's statement at the Television Critics Association Summer 2013 press tour earlier this month.

In a statement, Rhimes said Oh's final year is "bittersweet." "One of the best days of my life as a writer happened the day Sandra Oh walked in my door to audition and forever changed the course of 'Grey's Anatomy' with her brilliant, nuanced portrayal of Cristina Yang," she said. "Over the past ten seasons, I have been made better by Sandra's trust, faith and friendship and I can't quantify how grateful I am for her collaboration on a character we both love so deeply. This year is going to be bittersweet for us -- we're both going to savor every moment of Cristina Yang and then we're going to give her the exit she deserves. And when Sandra walks out of my door, 'Grey's Anatomy' will be once again be forever changed."

As for how "Grey's Anatomy" will handle Cristina's exit, Rhimes admitted she knows how the character's story will end, but stay tight-lipped, noting the storyline won't come up until the end of Season 10. "The minute Sandra and I started talking about this, we have a story that we want to tell and we want to tell it really well, and that story isn't about her leaving the show as much as it is Cristina Yang's growth as a person and as a surgeon," Rhimes told THR. But she did add, "Cristina Yang is not going to magically decide she wants babies, no."

Kevin McKidd, who plays Cristina's on-again-off-again love interest on "Grey's," told THR that he wasn't shocked by the news of Oh's departure. "I was aware of where she's at but was wishing and hoping that despite all that she might stick around so I might get to still act with her," he said. "It wasn't a surprise, but I was still sad when she told me."

McKidd added he wants to continue working on "Grey's," despite his sadness over Oh's exit. "I've done half as much time on the show as Sandra. I still feel there's stuff to open up and explore about Owen and to explore -- when the time comes -- the obvious grief he will be going through," he told THR. "In a way, I'm sad for Owen that he's got such a big bombshell coming for himself; the love of his life -- and I truly believe Cristina and Owen are the loves of each other's lives -- they're going to be broken apart."

Though McKidd admitted to THR that he doesn't know how Cristina's story will end on "Grey's" or whether or not she and Owen will be together, he noted that if it were up to him, "I would definitely not like for her to die."

For more on Sandra Oh's "Grey's Anatomy" exit, click over to THR here, here, and here.

"Grey's Anatomy" Season 10 premieres Thursday, Sept. 26 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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