The doctors of Seaside Health & Wellness soon will be out.
After a six-season run, ABC’s Private Practice comes to an end tonight at 10/9c, with a series finale titled “In Which We Say Goodbye” and boasting a happy ending for Kate Walsh’s Addison. Amy Brenneman previews the show’s swan song, shares why she’s glad to see Violet go stag at the big wedding and reflects on the “bananas” storyline that gave PP new life.
TVLINE | I’m curious, when did Shonda [Rhimes] first start dropping hints about what she had planned for the series finale?
With Shonda, it’s like those Tibetan people who when they have to choose a new Dalai Lama, they go up into the mountain for a while…. It’s like, “Don’t bother Shonda, she is writing the finale.” So, we didn’t really know until the table read. We knew Audra [McDonald] was going to come back, so that was exciting.
TVLINE | Who might be Violet’s date at Addison’s wedding — if anybody?
Violet is proudly single. Dammit. [Laughs] No, that was actually something that I weighed in on with Shonda, because there really wasn’t anybody that we were building to [her being with], and there are also a lot of great, happy, single people out there. So I was like, “Can Violet please be single?”
TVLINE | So, no bookstore guy?
No. I love that actor and I actually love, love, love those scenes, but I said to Shonda, “Please don’t let it end with the bookstore guy that we just met.” He seems a little like Mr. Goodbar. But that’s just me.
TVLINE | What sort of subplots surround the wedding framework?
There’s this really beautiful metaphorical thing that I am confident enough to admit that I didn’t understand; Shonda had to point it out to me. My storyline involves a patient (played by Parenthood‘s Sarah Ramos) we have never met, and yet in the storyline it’s clear I’ve been her therapist for a while. She is ready to move on, but she has these pangs and says, “I need you, I can’t do alone,” and I say things like, “We’ve been meeting together once a week for over five years, and I think you’re going to be OK.” I wondered, ‘Why are we ending with this storyline?” and Shonda was like, “You’re an idiot.” Because every line I say to this character is Shonda saying good-bye to the audience. Once I understood, I was like, “Oh, you’re a genius.” It’s beautiful. Also, Violet is writing a book, and in the last scene of the finale, they say, “What’s it called?” And I say Private Practice — almost like I am putting a little button on it.
TVLINE | Do you feel as if Violet’s been through one of the biggest gamut of storylines of all the characters? Maybe she’s in the top two?
I think about Cooper and Charlotte, going out on those Internet sex sites, and now they’re like this monogamous couple with children….
TVLINE | But you had the whole stolen baby thing, which is… yeesh. You teased to me back then it was like a Tarantino movie.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I think that poor old Violet was…. Listen, I think she is a better woman for it. I think she definitely grew up, that’s kind of my take-away from the whole arc.
TVLINE | God, I remember the hubbub about that finale like it was yesterday.
That was bananas, wasn’t it?! You may know this because you’re a reporter, but that was the end of our real first complete season, and we were doing “OK,” but really were still kind of finding our feet. And Shonda always says that that storyline put us on the map.
TVLINE | Talk about the table read for the series finale. Were you all pros or were some voices cracking?
Some voices were cracking, for sure. The thing is, during the table read, Shonda is doing her work. She is hearing the words out loud, but she is scribbling things. We looked over and she was making notes, and then we realized, “Oh, we’re actually not done. We have to shoot this thing.” Certainly for that last week, I was cuddling up to people like a little puppy. Paul [Adelstein], and Taye [Diggs]….They’re my brothers, and will miss them.
TVLINE | I know it rarely works out this way, but was the final scene of the episode the final scene you shot?
Almost. I delivered this thing where I’ve written this book called Private Practice, and they ask, “What’s it about?” and I say, “Well, it’s about us,” and it’s about life, and it’s about letting go, and it’s about falling…. It’s all about what the show has been, and I thought, “OK, I’m going to have a little acting exercise for myself, because I am going to look into my friends’ eyes and not act at all” — and it was really cool. I mean, we really were connecting. And then we all cried… and then poor old [Brian Benben] had, like, two more scenes. We were all drinking champagne, and he’s like, “I’m still working!”
TVLINE | Are there any onset eccentricities or behaviors that you’ll miss most?
I think the only time Taye actually speaks in his normal voice is when the cameras are rolling, because he is constantly having all of these freaky characters flooding through him. Also — and I don’t think she would mind me telling you this — Kate Walsh will come in in the morning with her fabulous pencil skirt on, and then by four in the afternoon, she will say, “Can I unzip?” And she’ll let her little pooch out after sucking in all day.
TVLINE | Do you think you’ll go out for pilot season?
I wasn’t planning on it. I want to produce again, to create material, which I am sort of in the process of doing, partly with my husband. I mean, if some fabulous thing comes my way, that will be great, but I’ve taken seven years off from producing to let my kids grow up, and now I kind of want to go back to that, so I feel like I am not totally just on the actor’s schedule.
After six seasons, 111 episodes, a backdoor pilot and a revolving door of men, Private Practice will go off the air Tuesday at 10/9c on ABC with Addison finally getting her happy ending: She’s getting married to someone she loves — and won’t cheat on. (Sorry, Derek!)
Addison Forbes Montgomery (Kate Walsh) is set to wed Jake Reilly (Benjamin Bratt), and actually will make it down the aisle. There will be no last-minute change-ups, snafus or curveballs as executive producer Shonda Rhimes has liked to throw at Private fans over the years. TVGuide.com was on set for the momentous occasion, where the cast waxed poetic on saying goodbye to the Oceanside Seaside Wellness group we’ve come to know and love over the years. What’s next for Walsh & Co.? Will they cross over to Grey’s Anatomy? And what has it been like saying goodbye? Get the scoop:
What is it like to say goodbye?
Kate Walsh: I’ve gone through so many different emotions and continue to. I’m ready, but I’ll miss everybody. It’s a huge, huge chapter of my life from Addison all the way in the beginning, coming in that one scene [during Grey's Anatomy's Season 1 finale] to now. It’s just nuts the journey I’ve taken personally and professionally.
Caterina Scorsone (Amelia Shepherd): We all seem to be in a little bit of denial about the end of the show. We only have one episode left, but we’re kind of carrying on as though it will continue and continue and continue.
Paul Adelstein (Cooper Freedman): It’s sad and nostalgic, but it’s time. I think everyone knows it’s time, and it feels right. It feels organic, but it’s been pretty amazing. It’s an amazing group of people to even get in the same room. I’m talking about cast, crew, writers, everybody. So it’s sad to say goodbye to all that, but I think the stories have really ended at a natural place, so it all seems right.
Taye Diggs (Sam Bennett): To be honest, I have mixed feelings. I feel like we’ve had a wonderful opportunity, and what we have has been special and different and unique. I feel very blessed to have worked with such an amazing cast. Then story-wise, I feel like we’ve, as sad as it will be for a lot of us to leave, I feel like the show has run its course. Personally, I feel like I have gotten a chance to tell some really great stories and it’s just time for the next chapter. So it feels right to me.
KaDee Strickland (Charlotte King): It’s really interesting because the final table read was just bizarre. I did not know what to expect walking in, and everybody was in great spirits. We have the luxury of knowing it’s the end, which a lot of people don’t have that. Shonda was able to fully form closure on the show. Benjamin, I remember him sitting there and saying, “No tears. No tears.” And I said, “Have you looked at the title?” and he looked down and he was like “Oh sh–.” It’s “In Which We Say Goodbye,” which is interesting because if you look at the first season, that was how we titled all of them, so I thought that was really very lovely on Shonda’s end.
Benjamin Bratt: These are folks who have worked together for a lot longer period of time then I have. I’ve been here a much shorter time and yet, even in the face of that, I’ve already developed these emotional connections to, not only this wonderful core of actors, but to this amazing crew. It’s a fairly unique environment. It really does, as cliché as it sounds, start to feel a little bit like a family. But that said, I also think that certainly the core of actors, we can look forward to seeing each other from time to time. I’m already contemplating a little reunion party at my house at some point, maybe four months from now or something.
Amy Brenneman (Violet Turner): It’s like anything in life. When you’re in it, you just love each other so much. You don’t really think about it, but I thought about like, “Oh that’s it for Violet!” Whatever I want to squeeze in there, I have to squeeze it in now.
Audra McDonald (Naomi Bennett): This whole experience was such a big part of my life and so to be able to come back, it’s closure for me. I needed closure from Naomi. I have stayed in touch with everybody and it is great to come out play with everybody again. When I left, Shonda and I had always said that if there’s a time it would be great to come back, then she would. So we knew that she wasn’t gone forever, but we weren’t sure how and when it would work out. It’s great it’s for the finale.
Brian Benben (Sheldon Wallace): I’m going to miss these people. It’s been a wonderful group of people. I know a lot of people say that, but it’s really true in this case, you know. It’s a great cast and a great crew and it’s going to be hard not seeing them all the time.
Matt Long (James Peterson): It’s this sort of melancholy feeling. We all knew it was coming. It would have been nice if it had continued, for me, because James would have stuck around and would have been a regular character, but it’s been a fantastic experience, one of the better experiences I’ve ever had.
What have you learned about yourself through playing this role?
Walsh: For as many transitions, I mean married, divorced, single, I’ve also been married, divorced, single. It’s been an amazing journey. One of the biggest gifts, obviously, is being able to work with all the different actors I’ve gotten to work with and to be able to grow as an actor, the gift of going to work every day for nine months out of the year, sometimes 10, depending on the season for years and years and years is a real huge gift.
Scorsone: I can’t quantify it. It’s been hugely profound for me. Similarly, I had come from Canada before doing this show. I washed up in LA. This was the first place where I found a home. I had to make all new friends. This was the most incredible, creative and welcoming community for me to land in. I’m terribly grateful to the experience here for so many personal and professional reasons.
Adelstein: All I know is I was challenged day in and day out, so I feel I got to grow and stretch and use muscles I’d never used before, and there’s just nothing like that. This has been one long journey, so it’s just an unparalleled experience. I’ll miss playing Cooper, for sure. He’s fun.
What were your fondest moments on set?
Walsh: The kitchen scenes are always fun. We all catch up, we all talk, we’re all usually eating or something. So, it’s really a family time. It’s also like we’re each other’s therapy, church, family, doctor, consultants. To be able to watch everyone evolve, Caterina have her baby, be able to see Amy’s kids grow up, to see the evolution of Charlotte King and watch Taye become a father and Paul become a father and Audra go off and get married. These are the moments to me that are really, really beautiful.
Diggs: It’s when we really get to know each other because we’re all a little older than some of the casts that I am used to working with. So everybody has their family and outside lives, so we wouldn’t necessarily get together as often outside of work, so during those scenes you’d really, over the past five years, we’ve really gotten to know each other.
Scorsone: Everyone is probably going to say the kitchen scenes because that’s when you had the highest concentration of ridiculousness and bad behavior on the set. Jokes for days.
Adelstein: It becomes a little crazy, and it’s a little hard to wrangle, I’m sure, for the crew, but we have a really good time when we’re together.
Long: They’ve been working together so long. It’s just fun to sit and watch. They’re all so funny.
Walsh: Also the hair and makeup trailer is one of my favorite places to be. Really the hair and makeup trailer is where you start your day and where you finish your day. It’s a safe place, we can tell each other anything in there. We’ve seen all of each other through babies, deaths in the family, loss of parents, marriage, divorce, all of it. I will miss that. It’s like group therapy or something.
Scorsone: I actually learned how to suture. I had a scene in the beginning of Season 5 where Amelia got drunk and fell off a bar and cut her hand open and then had to do brain surgery drunk on Pete. So that she could do this brain surgery, she first had to go to the hospital and stitch up her own hand. I brought chicken pieces home and a suture kit. The nursing staff on the show taught me how and I learned to suture chicken and latex wounds. That’s a fond memory and a new special skill. I can suture your hand if you need me to.
Adelstein: This is going to sound so ridiculous, but I think the hardest we laughed was the episode that Dell [Chris Lowell] died. Before he died, we were all in that waiting room, it felt like, for days shooting that.
How do you feel about the end for your character?
Walsh: I always like a good tragedy, but I also feel like the fans have been with us so long and Addison’s been through so much torture and angst and suffering that I think it’s really beautiful to send her off this way.
Bratt: I don’t think it’ll be a surprise to anyone how the final episode ends. It’s very sweet. It’s a union that has been well earned. Fans of Addison Montgomery, they’ll finally be happy for her
Scorsone: I feel hopeful and proud. Amelia is a great example of somebody who has endured all that life could throw at her and has come out capable of more love, rather than jaded and scarred and less capable of love.
Adelstein: It’s kind of like watching someone become a real man at a certain point. I think it’s apt, what they do with him. I think having four children, even for someone like Cooper, challenging would be an understatement, and you see him struggling, he and Charlotte struggling, with how to handle that, and I think they come up with a great solution.
Strickland: Charlotte and Cooper end in a great place and from what I hear. In the writers room the biggest concern was “Is their sex life in a good place?” and I think you’ll see that even post-triplets you can’t keep a good woman down.
Brenneman: I like it. There’s a lot of coupling at the end of the series, which is awesome, and it was in that Shakespearian way.
Diggs: I love that. I don’t know if there was a last-minute adjustment or if this was something that was in the writers’ heads from a while ago, but it just made sense to me to do.
Benben: I think it’s wonderful. I think there’s some closure there. I mean, it’s a little sad, but it makes sense.
Do you want to do series television again?
Walsh: I’m game for it. I don’t know if I’d ever want to head up an hourlong network show again. I need a break. I need a little change and mix it up. I’m getting into producing and want to create other stuff. I’m producing my first pilot. We’ll see if it gets picked up or if they want to shoot it, but it’s been a really fun process.
Adelstein: I’m doing a movie right now which actually overlaps, which is a little nutty, but cool to have something else to be doing. I don’t have a specific plan. I’ll go where the roles are.
Scorsone: I love series television. I think movies are really fun because often you get to shoot in a far flung location and it’s a great, intense experience. But series television allows you to develop a character in a way that you just couldn’t in an hour-and-a-half or two hour movie.
Brenneman: Yes. I mean, this show has taken my youngest child from 22 months to 7 years and so I am ready to produce again, and to create again, and I was very grateful to be in this.
Benben: Oh sure, absolutely, but I don’t think a lot about what I’m going to do. It’s just what comes down and see what drifts by, but I also write and I’ve written a pilot this year, so I’ll see what happens with that.
Long: Absolutely. It’s a great way to keep working, to keep fresh and keep warmed up, especially now that the show’s ending to go into pilot season and to hopefully book a great pilot that gets picked up and do another series would be a dream come true.
With Private Practice ending, it seems only fitting that Addison, or Derek’s sister Amelia, could fit right in at Grey’s Anatomy. But would they?
Walsh: If they ever wanted to bring me back and dust me off and have me come to a very special episode, I’m totally open.
Scorsone: That would be wonderful. They have been so good to me here in Shondaland, if they ever wanted me to come and do a guest spot or anything — cook a soufflé — I would do anything for Shonda and Betsy [Beers] at this point. They’ve given me so much creatively and personally. I would in a heartbeat show up on Grey’s.