- Jake Borelli told Insider that he recently read the Season 18 finale of “Grey’s Anatomy” and was “still in shock.”
- He said Levi Schmitt was “percolating” things through his mind and could return to Gray Sloan as a doctor.
- The actor said he hoped Schmitt and her ex-boyfriend Nico could “overcome” their struggles.
A fan-favorite doctor at Gray Sloan Memorial Hospital has come to a crossroads in “Put It to the Test,” the April 7 episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Dr. Levi Schmitt (Jake Borelli) is forced out of his basement when his mother Myrna (Michelle Gardner) falls down the stairs during an argument, and it’s up to him to save her life.
Levi has been avoiding his friends, his job and his responsibilities since a mistake he made following the teaching method of Richard Webber (Jim Pickens) killed a patient named Devon. Thanks to the method, Dr. Schmitt felt empowered to make a decision in surgery without a superior present, and his fatal mistake plunged him into a deep crisis.
After “Put Him to the Test,” Insider spoke to Borelli about what it’s like to act in the intense life-and-death situations Seattle’s top doctors face week after week and whether Dr. Schmitt will return. a day in the hospital as a doctor.
How do you create the tension on set that we see on screen in life or death scenarios, since you don’t have the dramatic music to help?
On set, everything feels so real, because we have the best medical service ever. So they make these prostheses that look incredibly real. So when I cut Myrna, I actually had a knife in my hand and blood was flowing. It felt so real, it was almost like you didn’t have to pretend as much.
Do you really feel the stress of these issues in your body?
Definitively. Kevin McKidd, who plays Owen, was directing, and he’s right there behind the camera yelling, “Okay, it’s happening now? It’s happening now, scream down the stairs.” So he also helps me with that adrenaline.
And then for the opposite of that kind of energy, what do you do as an actor to prepare yourself to cry or prepare for really emotional scenes, like when Levi cries in Dr. Webber’s arms?
I’m really just building the story of what this character is going through. And luckily I’ve been playing Levi for five years now, so I understand him pretty well. Adding the given circumstances of what’s going on with his mother, what happened with him killing Devon during the operation, his whole career falls apart, if you just tap into those parts of you, it comes
Usually what I will do is I will determine based on the circumstances how he feels. And then I’ll try to find in my body a memory where I felt that in real life. And sometimes they’re completely different things, but that’s an actor’s job.
What’s next for Schmitt? Before his mother fell, he was basically making an argument that sounded like he was ready to come back. Is it?
I think there was a lot in that nod to Richard at the very end when he’s sitting by his mother’s bedside. And it looks like things are percolating. He sees that he’s a good doctor and that those talents he has mean something because that’s what ended up saving his mother. And so hopefully he’ll have a chance to come back to the hospital, but there’s a lot of people he probably needs to apologize to first, and who might need to apologize to him.
What about Nico and Levi’s future? Is there hope?
That was the most adamant I’ve seen Levi in his feelings for Nico, and I think that’s tough. They don’t communicate well and they both have different communication styles and different communication needs. And they haven’t been able to line up on that. So I hope they can pull it off.
What can we expect from the second half of the season for Gray Sloan’s Doctors as the finale draws closer?
All I know is that I just read the finale two days ago, and I’m still in shock. I do not know how I feel. It’s heart pounding and literally, I’m looking at my couch right now, where I read it and my jaw was right on the floor. So get ready.
You work so much with Ellen Pompeo. What is your best memory with her on the set?
Oh my God. I love Ellen. I’m so lucky to work so much with her too. She is so kind and she is so generous with her time and advice. It’s just amazing. I mean, the biggest thing that surprised me was just getting to work, and it’s early in the morning and she comes in with such energy. She often plays super awesome music on her speaker, just keeping the energy flowing.
You made history with the relationship between Levi and Nico, as it relates to the portrayal of the gay community on television. In what ways would you like “Grey’s Anatomy” to continue to push the boundaries with an authentic representation of the community?
I hope they continue to tell authentic queer stories. I just hope they continue to show more sides of that community. And Levi has grown so much into his homosexuality, and I just think about me and how I’m such a different person now than 10 years ago when I came out, or 12 years ago when I came out. And so hopefully we’ll see him grow in that and grow in his power, and see him maybe a little further into the queer community.
He’s such a gamer, he loves D&D and video games and there’s a huge queer gaming culture. They call them gay-mers. And so I feel like we could explore that. There are also so many gay doctors. Continually showing this experience would be amazing.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
“Grey’s Anatomy” returns to ABC with its next new episode Thursday, May 5 at 9 p.m. ET.