Tavis: Kim Raver is a talented actress whose previous credits include “24” and “Lipstick Jungle.” She is now part of the cast of “Grey’s Anatomy,” which airs Thursday nights at 9:00 on ABC. Here now, a scene from “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Tavis: So clearly an episode about assisted suicide. You ever find yourself wrestling with the material, given your own personal views about some of these issues?
Kim Raver: Oh, absolutely, but I think what’s interesting is then for me it forces me then to really kind of hit the books and investigate and research, and then sometimes you have to separate yourself from maybe what your character would do than what I personally would do. But then sometimes you also align yourself.
But I think what’s so interesting for me is the different roles that I play. I love doing the research and I love – I feel fortunate in the sense that I get to explore many different worlds, of things that I may not really get to learn a lot about.
Tavis: Speaking of exploring different worlds. “Grey’s Anatomy” does a good job, I think, as a show, of dealing with contemporary issues. Your character has an Iraq connection, in fact.
Raver: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, yeah, I know, and that as well. I think we’re able to read from our papers and on the Internet about what’s going on in Iraq, but I’ve actually, through Kevin and also Shonda Rhimes’ office, has given me a lot of different books.
I know so much more than I did before I joined “Grey’s” of really what our troops are going through, and my respect and appreciation for what they – how they dedicate their lives for our country, and that’s been difficult to really – as eye-opening as it is, and also in a beautiful way, very illuminating.
Tavis: For those who have not seen you on the show yet, tell me more about your character, since we’re talking about the Iraq connection.
Raver: I play Teddy Altman, and Owen Hunt, who was in Iraq, he’s brought me to this hospital, and we used to serve together in Iraq. I’m a cardiothoracic surgeon.
Tavis: Let me ask – did you know what that was before you started playing this role?
Raver: I couldn’t even say it. (Laughter) I was like, “Let’s see if I can actually get it out.”
Tavis: Yeah, that was very impressive. You said that so – you were so smooth with it. I was like, “Okay, I bet she never heard of that before she started playing this character.”
Raver: Just a heart doctor. I actually got to go in and observe an open-heart surgery, and that was –
Tavis: A real one?
Raver: A real one.
Tavis: Did it freak you out?
Raver: Yes. I wasn’t up in some galley watching down. I was literally standing over the patient’s head and looking into the heart, and that also goes to what I was saying about there’s things that I get to research and see that I never – I think when you’re a patient you don’t really think about the intricacies of this doctor is going to go in.
I really was watching this heart and this incredible surgeon and his dexterity and his – he was in that surgery and did not leave his post, if you will, I think it was for about eight hours. I, on the other hand, was like, “Can I go to the bathroom? Can I get something to eat?”
I did really well until there was a specific part in the surgery where I started feeling – the darkness was coming in and I think – I was like, “I’m going to faint.” I was like, “But I don’t want to leave the surgery.” So I just sort of said, “I think I have to lean against the wall,” and I stepped back and I leaned against the cold wall and I felt myself coming to and I was like, “Okay, I’ll be fine, I can get through this.”
Tavis: Somebody must really like you in this town or looking down on you, because you’ve had – “Grey’s Anatomy” is obviously a huge hit – yeah, I saw that. (Laughter) “Grey’s Anatomy” a huge hit, you came from a huge hit called “24.”
Raver: Thank you, right, yeah.
Tavis: Yeah, that’s cool.
Raver: It is cool. It is very cool, and I think if people had said, “Oh, this is the path that you’re going to take,” you never quite would believe it. But I’ve been also able to work with just such fine, fine actors and writers and stepping into the world of “24” with Kiefer Sutherland and now with Shonda Rhimes and all of the cast, they’re all so talented.
What’s so great also about “Grey’s” is there’s so many different cast members that every day for me so far, it’s a different opportunity to work with different types of actors and different ways that different actors work. It’s almost sort of – I feel like what it would be like in the old times when there were big repertory theatres and you stay with the same group but you do different plays.
Tavis: So this doesn’t happen often on this show but every now and then we have a guest on the show who literally came to the set for our show tonight from their set where they were filming the show that they actually – taping the show they actually work on.
So you just came to us from shooting some stuff today, so this is just fun. For those of us who are “Grey’s Anatomy” fans, tell me, without giving the storyline away, what you were shooting today so that when this episode airs we’ll say, “Oh, that’s the day she was on Tavis’ show.” (Laughter) She was talking about that.
Raver: I was running so – I was literally texting your people and I was like, “I’m still in my scrubs. I’m going to step off the set.” Then I was like, “I wonder if I could go there in my scrubs,” but you’re always so well-dressed –
Tavis: No, you could have worn your scrubs.
Raver: – that I just couldn’t – I couldn’t do it.
Tavis: You could have worn your scrubs.
Raver: I have to be very careful, it’s very locked down, top secret, can’t give anything away.
Tavis: Don’t give it away, don’t give it away.
Raver: But I was doing a scene, Teddy, my character, Arizona, Owen, Christina, and then there’s a couple other characters sort of floating around trying to overhear what we’re saying, and I discuss something a little embarrassing that had happened the night before.
Tavis: Okay. So now we’ll have to mark our TiVos and try to figure out what that scene is when it actually comes. So I’m told, if my research is right here, that all of this wonderful acting that you get a chance to do now on “24” and “Grey’s Anatomy” all started at a place called “Sesame Street?”
Raver: (Laughs) It did, it did. It makes me laugh because – (Laughter)
Tavis: So you owe all this to PBS?
Raver: “You’re such a fine actress because you were working with puppets.”
Raver: It was PBS. I just am a huge fan of PBS. They’ve taken great risks from great shows. When that show first aired, when I first came on there – I don’t consider myself a child actress, first of all. There I was going on and I was hanging out with puppets and getting to count and play, but it was a really progressive – I look at it now with my kids and I think, they took some great risks at a time where things, I think, were a little more conventional, and it was great, and it’s great that it’s such a huge success. It’s been – it just had an anniversary, a big anniversary, right?
Tavis: Forty years plus now, yeah, yeah.
Raver: Yeah. So that was a really magical time for me, and I –
Tavis: Do you find that – you have two kids.
Tavis: Do you find that your kids learn differently than the kids were learning then, watching “Sesame Street?” Is there a different process? Do they still learn the same kind of way? Same kind of tools, same kind of – do your kids still watch television and pick up numbers?
Raver: Yeah, yeah, yeah. My son the other day started – I was reading him “The Hungry Caterpillar” and he started counting – just started counting – and yes, I think that comes from us reading to him. I’m a big fan of that and I think it’s really great to be able to read to your kids.
But I think also watching “Sesame Street,” and they do it in such a great, fun way, but I also just like – I think what’s great about the show is there’s a sense of humor about it for the parents as well as for the kids, so when you are trying to still get that, like, 15 more minutes of sleep in the morning and your kids are watching it –
Tavis: Yeah, it helps. (Laughter)
Raver: – you can still – I actually find myself kind of opening my eyes, still chuckling, and I think they do still learn in the same way. The thing that’s different, I think, is the way that we have so much stimulation going on right now for my kids compared to when I was growing up that I like “Sesame Street,” that it still has that nice pace and it’s not too (makes noise).
Tavis: Still the best babysitter on television, “Sesame Street,” and they can learn while they’re being babysat.
Tavis: But enough of “Sesame Street,” you can see that every day here on PBS. But you can catch on Thursday nights Kim Raver, formerly of “Sesame Street” and “24,” now on “Grey’s Anatomy.” Kim, good to have you on the program.
Raver: Thank you so much for having me.
Tavis: It’s my pleasure.