Grey’s Anatomy: The Characters Jessica Capshaw Almost Played (Before Arizona)

Before she got the role of Arizona Robbins in Grey’s Anatomy, Jessica Capshaw auditioned to play two very different characters. Here’s what happened.

Jessica Capshaw played Arizona Robbins in Grey’s Anatomy, but before she got that role, she auditioned for two other characters. Created by Shonda Rhimes, Grey’s Anatomy premiered on ABC in 2005, and even though it started as a mid-season replacement, it was so well-received by critics and viewers that it has lived on for over 10 seasons and shows no signs of stopping soon, even if some of its most popular characters are now gone.

Grey’s Anatomy follows the basic premise of medical dramas and focuses on the lives of surgical interns, residents, and attendings as they juggle their professional and personal lives, which more often than not overlap and make way for a lot of drama. The series is led by Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), who viewers have seen go through all types of obstacles and tragedies alongside her closest friends and family, but the show has also followed the lives of her colleagues quite closely. Among those was Arizona Robbins, former Head of Fetal Surgery at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital and who had a relationship with Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez).

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Related: How Grey’s Anatomy Teased Arizona’s Plane Crash Injury 3 Seasons Early

Arizona was introduced in Grey’s Anatomy season 5 and made her final appearance in season 14, as she moved to New York to be with Callie and their daughter, Sofia. Arizona was originally set to appear in only three episodes, but Capshaw’s contract was extended for the rest of the fifth season and she ended up becoming a series regular from season 6 onward. But before Arizona became a part of Grey’s Anatomy, Capshaw auditioned for two very different and smaller roles, but she was turned down. First, she auditioned to play Nurse Rose, who briefly dated Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey). Capshaw told TVGuide she auditioned for it two weeks after she had her son, and wasn’t interested in auditioning for anything, but she saw the opportunity and took it – but the role went to Lauren Stamile instead.

Grey's Anatomy Arizona Robbins

About a year later, she auditioned for another part in Grey’s Anatomy, one that was unnamed at the time and turned out to be that of Sadie, Meredith’s friend who was an intern at Seattle Grace Hospital for a while. Capshaw was turned down again and the role went to Melissa George, but she shared that the producers kept saying they loved her, and that good impression eventually paid off, as she got the part of Arizona Robbins about a month later. In the end, Arizona became a fan-favorite thanks to Capshaw’s performance and charisma and her storylines, particularly that of her relationship with Callie, and earned a spot in many lists of best gay characters on TV.

Since her departure from Grey’s Anatomy, Jessica Capshaw has appeared in the TV movie One Angry Juror, the rom-com Holidate, and the drama movie Dear Zoe. Given that Arizona Robbins wasn’t killed off as many other Grey’s Anatomy characters have been, she could return at some point in the series, which would be a nice treat for fans given how popular she was.

Next: Grey’s Anatomy: How The Plane Crash Impacted The Seattle Grace Five

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