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Before Grey’s Anatomy Cast Katherine Heigl As Izzie, A Lost Alum Was In Contention For The Role

Yunjin Kim as Sun in Lost.
(Image credit: ABC)

It’s hard to imagine Grey’s Anatomy’s Izzie Stevens being played by anyone other than Katherine Heigl. Though before the actress scored her Emmy-winning role, Lost alum Yunjin Kim was actually in contention for the part, before she even landed her spot within the cast of the long-running plane crash drama. Now, she’s opening up about the experience of landing the major auditions.

Yunjin Kim, who portrayed Sun-Hwa Kwon for the entirety of Lost’s six-season run, opened up about her journey to EW, and it sounds like the whole thing was a whirlwind. During the chat, the actress also quickly shot down the notion that she was meant to audition for another famous Grey's Anatomy character. Here's what she said:

They actually paid me to bring me out in L.A. to wait around and audition for their shows; it was such a sweet deal. Lost was one of my first auditions but Grey's Anatomy was my first. I did not audition for Sandra Oh's character [Cristina Yang], it was for Izzie. And I got a callback.

While I can’t imagine Grey’s Anatomy without some of the insane storylines involving Izzie, as Katherine Heigl gives it her all, I can't help but wonder just how different the show would have been if Yunjin Kim would've ended up getting the role. Then again, you also have to consider how different Lost would be without her.

As fate would have it, she auditioned for the medical drama while she was also auditioning for the in-development Lost. She also discussed how the Sun character was written after her audition, as she originally was up for the role of Kate Austen. And top it off, she auditioned for the show's creator, J.J. Abrams, who liked her enough to create the new role for her in the first place.

Soon after, Kim got a call from her agent, who told her that the new part was going to be written just for her. She apparently had a 40-minute phone call with Abrams and, although all seemed to be set, there was still the matter of Grey's Anatomy:

When this whole thing went down with Lost as far as J.J. is going to write me a role and how amazing that was, that day or the next day, I had a callback. And I was like, 'I'm going to go and do this callback.' My agents were like, 'Why? You got cast on an amazing show. You should pack up and try to find a place in Hawaii.' I was like, 'I don't know, I might like Grey's Anatomy more.' I didn't want to put all my eggs in one basket. What if this falls out, you know? I had no guarantee. But anyway, I ended up not going back to the callback.

In hindsight, it's actually a good thing Yunjin Kim didn’t go to the Grey’s Anatomy callback, because I think we can agree that it definitely worked out well for both her and Katherine Heigl. And let's be honest, it's kind of hard to pass on a role that's literally written for you and gives you the chance to work in Hawaii. And on top of all that, Kim's performance was well received and continues to be one of the reasons that the science fiction-infused series is still beloved years after its (controversial) series finale.

Lost is available to stream on Hulu.

Passionate writer. Obsessed with anything and everything entertainment, specifically movies and television. Can get easily attached to fictional characters.