How Crazy Rich Asians' Harry Shum Jr. Reacted To Meeting His OG Grey’s Anatomy Co-Stars Ellen Pompeo And More

Harry Shum Jr. in All My Life.
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Harry Shum Jr. has built up a pretty nice resume over the years. He’s set to star in a Crazy Rich Asians spinoff movie, popped up in the critically acclaimed Everything Everywhere All at Once, and is already well-known for his roles in Glee and Shadowhunters. But when he enters Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital as Benson "Blue" Kwan on Grey’s Anatomy Season 19, he’ll be a newbie working alongside a trio of actors who have been there from the beginning. Shum opened up about what it was like to be a “first-year resident” meeting his new co-stars — and the series’ three remaining OG actors — Ellen Pompeo, James Pickens Jr. and Chandra Wilson. 

Benson “Blue” Kwan is one of five new characters being introduced, as Grey’s Anatomy’s 19th season goes “back to the beginning,” as it was described by Kevin McKidd. The new interns’ arrival coincides with Ellen Pompeo’s taking a big step back from the role of Meredith, but Shum told People the actress was still there to welcome her new co-stars with a gift and impress them with her mastery of the craft. He said:

The first day, she gave us a beautiful plant that all of the interns have, so we just try to make sure that it's healthy and staying alive throughout the whole season. Her first day, she had this massive monologue, pages and pages, and she was just so gracious with her time, and giving us advice, and just welcoming us to the OR. I look at her as someone who's so iconic, who's been doing this for so many years, but still again, having such a fresh energy, which is really inspiring.

“Iconic” is the word Harry Shum Jr. also used to describe Chandra Wilson and James Pickens Jr., who are returning for their 19th seasons as Miranda Bailey and Richard Webber, respectively. He described the new cast’s first meeting the OGs, saying:

The first day we got to meet Chandra and James and it was iconic. It was an iconic moment. Chandra, she just gave us this beautiful, just very, almost life advice of just be yourself on set, on the show, and try and contribute in so many ways that feel very true to yourself. I think that's why the show has gone on for so long. I think that advice has been given over time and has been utilized in so many beautiful ways.

If I could describe a dream scenario for meeting Chandra Wilson, it would definitely involve a Bailey-esque motivational speech, so it warms my dark and twisty heart to know that this happened in real life. Now where's some video?

James Pickens Jr. seems to have welcomed the new cast members in a similarly paternal fashion fitting of his character, as the first-year residents all looked blissfully unafraid of the drama to come in the photo he shared to Instagram.

Harry Shum Jr. played Charlie Wu in Crazy Rich Asians, and while Charlie was a significant character in the book, he had only a small — though significant — cameo in the end credit scene, and it was apparently always in the plans to expand Shum’s character beyond that initial appearance. We’ll definitely be on the lookout for that spinoff about Charlie’s romance with Gemma Chan’s Astrid.

First things first, though, as Grey’s Anatomy Season 19 is set to premiere on Thursday, October 6, on ABC. Be sure to check out our 2022 TV Schedule to keep up with all of the fall premieres.

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Heidi Venable is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend, a mom of two and a hard-core '90s kid. She started freelancing for CinemaBlend in 2020 and officially came on board in 2021. Her job entails writing news stories and TV reactions from some of her favorite prime-time shows like Grey's Anatomy and The Bachelor. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in Journalism and worked in the newspaper industry for almost two decades in multiple roles including Sports Editor, Page Designer and Online Editor. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.