- Jake Borelli told Insider that he recently read the season 18 finale of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “is still in shock.”
- He said that Levi Schmitt is “filtering” things in his mind and may return to Gray Sloan as a doctor.
- The actor said he hoped Schmitt and ex-boyfriend Nico could “get over” their difficulties.
A fan-favorite doctor at Gray Sloan Memorial Hospital came to a crossroads of sorts on “Put It to the Test,” the April 7 episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Dr. Levi Schmitt (Jake Borelli) is forced out of his basement when his mother Myrna (Michelle Gardner) falls down the stairs during an argument, and it’s up to him to save her life.
Levi has been avoiding his friends, his job, and his responsibilities ever since a mistake he made following Richard Webber’s (Jim Pickens) teaching method killed a patient named Devon. Dr. Schmitt felt empowered through the method to make a decision in surgery without a higher present, and his fatal mistake sent him into a deep depression.
Following “Put It to the Test,” Insider spoke with Borelli about what it’s like to perform in the intense life-and-death situations Seattle’s top doctors face week after week and whether Dr. Schmitt will ever return to the hospital. like a doctor.
How do you create the tension on set that we see on screen in life and death scenarios, since you don’t have the dramatic music to help you?
On set, everything seems so real, because we have the best medical department ever. So they make these prosthetics that look incredibly real. So when I was cutting Myrna, I actually had a knife in my hand and blood was coming out of it. It seemed so real, it was almost like you didn’t have to pretend as much.
Do you really feel the stress of those bets on your body?
Definitely. Kevin McKidd, who plays Owen, was directing, and he was there behind the camera yelling, “Okay, is it happening now? It’s happening now, yell upstairs.” So he also helps me with that adrenaline.
And then for the opposite of that kind of energy, what do you do as an actor to prepare to cry or prepare for really emotional scenes, like when Levi cries in Dr. Webber’s arms?
I really just build the story of what that character is going through. And luckily, I’ve been playing Levi for five years, so I know him pretty well. Adding the given circumstances of what’s going on with his mom, what happened with him killing Devon during surgery, his whole career falls apart, if you just touch those parts of yourself, it comes
Usually what I’ll do is find out, depending on the circumstances, how you feel. And then I will try to find in my body a memory where I felt this way in real life. And sometimes it’s completely different things, but that’s the job of an actor.
What’s next for Schmitt? Before his mother’s downfall, he was basically arguing that he looked like he was ready to come back. Is he?
I think there was a lot to that nod to Richard at the end, when he’s sitting next to his mother’s bed. And it looks like things are leaking. He is seeing that he is a good doctor and that these talents that he has mean something because it is what ended up saving his mother from him. So I hope he gets a chance to go back to the hospital, but there are a lot of people that he probably needs to apologize to first, and who might need to apologize to him.
What about the future of Nico and Levi? There is hope?
This was the most firm I’ve ever seen Levi in his feelings for Nico, and I think it’s hard. They don’t communicate well and they both have different communication styles and different needs when it comes to that. And they haven’t been able to match that. So I hope they can pull through.
What can we expect from the second half of the season for the doctors at Gray Sloan as the finale approaches?
All I know is that I just read the ending two days ago and I’m still in shock. I don’t know how I feel. My heart is racing and I’m literally staring at my couch right now where I read it and my jaw is on the floor. So prepare yourself.
You work a lot with Ellen Pompeo. What is your favorite memory with her on set?
Oh my God. I love Elena. I’m so lucky to be able to work so much with her as well. She is so kind and so generous with her time and her advice. She is just amazing. I mean, the thing that surprised me the most was coming to work, and it’s early in the morning and she comes in with so much energy. She often plays amazing music on her speaker, to keep the energy flowing.
You have made history with Levi and Nico’s relationship, in terms of the representation of the gay community on television networks. How would you like to see “Grey’s Anatomy” continue to push the envelope with authentic representation of the community?
I hope they keep telling authentic queer stories. I just hope they continue to show more facets of that community. And Levi has grown so much into the weirdness of him, and I just think about myself and how I’m such a different person now than I was 10 years ago when I came out, or 12 years ago when I came out. So hopefully we’ll see him grow into that and grow into the power of him, and maybe we’ll see him move a little bit further into the queer community.
He’s a huge gamer, he loves D&D and video games and there’s a huge queer gaming culture. They call them gay-mers. And I feel like we could explore that. There are also so many queer doctors out there. Continually showing that experience would be amazing.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
“Grey’s Anatomy” returns to ABC with its next new episode on Thursday, May 5 at 9 pm ET.