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What It's Like To Return To Grey's Anatomy After So Many Years Away, According To Kate Walsh

After weeks of anticipation, Grey’s Anatomy fans finally got to see Kate Walsh return as Addison Montgomery and come face to face with her former rival Meredith Grey at Grey-Sloan Memorial. Addison performed a groundbreaking uterine transplant, enlisting the help of her ex-husband’s former mistress. When the surgery was over, the two stepped into the elevator for a classic scene, where Addison was overcome with the grief of being in Seattle for the first time since Derek Shepherd’s death, telling Meredith that being there made it real. But it wasn’t just the character who got bombarded by the emotions of the comeback. 

Kate Walsh said returning to the Grey’s Anatomy set after 10 years was an unexpected emotional punch to the gut. Walsh first strutted onto the ABC medical drama and into fans’ hearts back in Season 1 to accuse Meredith of screwing her husband, and coming back in the 18th season after a decade felt a little strange. Here's how Walsh explained it to ET:

Completely surreal. Like, there's no way to even articulate it. I knew it would be odd but it was so emotional, and so big and yeah, beyond, because when's the last time you've ever gone back to a job that you started 18 years ago that you left 10 years ago? You know what I'm saying? There's no infrastructure. There's no construct for it because even if you say, 'Oh, it's kind of like going home to your parents,' and you're like, 'Wait, this is my room? OK, yeah, that's right I have an airplane bed.'

Kate Walsh left Grey’s Anatomy after Season 3, after Addison moved to California, which was chronicled through six seasons of the spinoff Private Practice. Since leaving Shondavision eight years ago, Walsh has had a number of different projects, with roles in Bad Judge, 13 Reasons Why and The Umbrella Academy, just to name a few. So having moved on from the medical drama world for so many years, it must have felt like a homecoming of sorts to be back on the set of the Seattle hospital. 

In Addison’s comeback episode, “Hotter Than Hell,” her breakdown inspired Meredith to invite Addison to her house to meet her and Derek’s children, and an equally lovely scene followed, where the neonatal surgeon proceeded to fall in love with the Shepherd kids over ice cream. 

It remains to be seen whether Addison will stick around long enough for Derek and Meredith’s kids (and viewers!) to meet her now-8-year-old son Henry. But we know she’ll at least be around in the next episode, “With a Little Help From My Friends,” as Addison and her former sister-in-law Amelia continue work on Addison’s transplant patient. And hopefully Addison will get some more work in with residents, as well as Jo Wilson, who after switching specialties to obstetrics and gynecology is desperate to learn from Addison. Aren't we all?

Grey’s Anatomy returns to ABC at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday, October 21. Be sure to check out our 2021 Fall TV Schedule to find the upcoming premiere dates for all of your favorite shows.

Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.