When Grey’s Anatomy premiered in 2005, the only known name in the cast was Patrick Dempsey. A strength of the show was that it cast little-known actors without previous connections to other parts, so the audiences came to love the characters.
As time has gone on, several Grey’s stars have gone on to greater fame. Katherine Heigl is obviously the biggest as a movie star and Emmy winner. Sandra Oh has also gained fame with Killing Eve and various movie roles.
The rest of the cast is packed with folks who have been in several prominent TV series, some bigger than others.
Thanks to the revolving door of cast members, the current cast features actors with some credits that may have slipped under the radar.
Most were from roles before they made it onto the show, while others were on hit series.
These are ten past TV roles fans may not know the current Grey’s cast had and how each experience helped shape their roles on this hit show.
Richard Flood as an international cop in Crossing Lines
Debuting late in season 16, Cormac Hayes was set up as a potential love interest for Meredith when the pandemic cut the season short.
In season 17, Meredith has mostly been in a coma, but Hayes is now a regular aiding the hospital in their various crises and some fans still hope he and Meredith can hook up.
Richard Flood has been in several TV shows like the popular Irish cop drama Red Rock and also a season of Showtime’s Shameless.
He also starred in Crossing Lines, an international joint venture program. It focused on a fictional unit of police from across the world working to bring global fugitives to justice.
Flood was an Irish cop whose street experience and weapons expertise worked well with the team. He did a great job in the part with the same intensity that’s made Hayes a fine new addition to the show.
Chris Carmack as a would-be actor in Related
Before joining Grey’s Anatomy as the hunky Lincoln, Chris Carmack showed off his good looks in soaps like The O.C. and Nashville.
One forgotten early role by him was in the 2005 WB drama Related. The series focused on a quartet of sisters (Jennifer Esposito, Kiele Sanchez, Lizzy Caplan, and Laura Breckenridge) helping each other through their lives in New York.
Carmack played the boyfriend of Breckenridge’s character, an actor whose great looks won her over. They had good chemistry for a time, but it was clear he wanted more.
It sadly built to heartbreak as, at her father’s wedding, Carmack broke up with her to move to Hollywood. Given Lincoln’s own wedding heartbreak in the season finale, this is an ironic part for the actor.
Kelly McCreary’s first turn as a doctor in Emily Owens M.D.
One of the most shocking character intros on the show was when Maggie Pierce arrived at the hospital to reveal she was the half-sister Meredith never knew she had.
Like others, Kelly McCreary has been through a lot of heartbreaks and family drama but did end the last season by getting married to Winston.
This wasn’t McCreary’s first turn in scrubs. She starred in the 2012 CW drama Emily Owens M.D. Mamie Gummer played the title role of a new surgeon who realizes her job is just like being in high school…complete with her old class rival among the interns.
McCreary played Emily’s best friend, who had a tense relationship with her chief of surgery father and hiding a big secret of her life.
That series lasted 13 episodes yet clearly gave McCreary the experience needed for Maggie.
Camilla Luddington as a fairy queen in True Blood
Video game fans know Camilla Luddington as the voice of Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider franchise.
She’d hidden her British accent in other roles such as Californication before joining the show as the tough Jo.
Before that, Luddington had a part in HBO’s steamy supernatural drama True Blood. She played Claudette, one of the fairies Sookie (Anna Paquin) would run into.
Rather than the classic stereotype of fairies in dresses and wings, these hung out at a country music bar. Claudette looked more at home at a drinking contest with her light humor, outfit, and Southern accent.
The character was among the casualties of a brutal attack yet showed some bright spark and the same magic Luddington brings to her roles.
Kim Raver as a DA held hostage in The Nine
Teddy Altman was intended to be just a minor character but grew into such a favorite that she was made a regular.
Kim Raver is a TV veteran with scores of appearances and some leading roles, such as Lipstick Jungle. One that flew under the radar was the 2006 ABC series The Nine.
The title referred to the nine people involved in a bank robbery that became a hostage situation. Raver was a district attorney who formed a bond with a cop (Tim Daly), despite being engaged.
The series bounced between the after-effects and flashbacks, showing what really happened during the 52-hour standoff. This hinted at a dark fate for Raver’s character.
Before it could get that far, the show was canceled. But that mix of mystery and a romantic triangle served Raver well for playing Teddy.
Kevin McKidd as a lawyer in North Square
As the tough, if troubled Owen, Kevin McKidd has brought a significant intensity to the series. The actor was known to audiences by the cult time-travel series Journeyman and the HBO drama Rome.
He also had several roles in his native England, which included the legal drama North Square. He was a barrister who was in hot water with the law himself for punching a racist boss.
McKidd showed some of Owen’s intensity and dry humor in the role, brushing off the fact he was facing possible jail time as he tried to help clients. He also had time for some steamy romances.
The series lasted just one season yet shows that no matter his occupation, McKidd was a great presence as a man committed to helping others.
Chandra Wilson as a different trio on General Hospital
It’s unlikely that Miranda Bailey’s original nickname would be used today. Yet that steely drive that makes her a top doctor remains.
Chandra Wilson had been in numerous TV shows, including a trifecta of Law & Order roles. Yet it’s sometimes forgotten she had a similar trio of appearances on a certain soap opera.
Wilson has made three guest star roles on General Hospital, all as different characters. She first appeared in 2014 as a patient with the obvious joke of the doctors poking fun at “her thinking she knows our jobs.”
Wilson returned in 2018 as a therapist helping Aunt Stella, Jordan, and Curtis through some issues. She returned in 2019 as a fashion editor for the hospital ball.
For those used to the tough Bailey, seeing her lighten up in this soap was fun.
James Pickens Jr as a cop in The Practice
As the stern Chief Richard Webber, James Pickens Jr has been with the show from the start. The Chief has survived heart attacks, strokes, and electrocution, among other dangers to keep on going.
Pickens Jr. was a TV veteran before Grey’s, including a conniving FBI chief on The X-Files. But he also played a slightly less sinister cop on The Practice.
The hit legal drama focused on a firm used to skirting the rules to get their clients off. Pickens appeared in over a dozen episodes as Detective Mike McKrew. He’d have a low opinion of the lawyers as he assumed every guy he arrested was guilty.
More than once, the firm would have to question McKrew in court to try and expose some mistakes in the investigation. The problem was, for all his arrogance, McKrew was a good cop and even made the gang think they were defending a guilty person.
While he wasn’t a regular face on the series, Pickens always brought some gravitas to his role, no matter the uniform.
Caterina Scorsone as a psychic FBI agent in 1-800-Missing
It’s sometimes forgotten that Amelia Shepherd debuted on the spin-off Private Practice before becoming a major player on Grey’s Anatomy.
Caterina Scorsone has been fun as Amelia has dealt with romantic issues, a brain tumor, and her brother’s loss yet retains her quirky humor.
That humor wasn’t shown as much in Scorsone’s first starring role in the early 2000s Lifetime series 1-800-Missing (later shortened to just Missing).
She played a teenager who gets psychic visions of a missing person. She’s recruited into the FBI to help crack cases.
The series was notable for Scorsone starting off as a naive teen and blossoming into an experienced agent. She was also the only cast member to stick through a major overhaul.
It was an odd turn on the cop show that gave Scorsone her first shot at the limelight.
Ellen Pompeo as a past crush in Friends
It’s hard to imagine Ellen Pompeo as anyone but Meredith Grey. She’s imbued the role for so long that it’s become her go-to TV role.
Before that, Pompeo bounced around TV in various guest appearances, including a couple of Law & Order episodes. But she also worked in an appearance as one of the many “past loves” on Friends.
In “The One Where The Stripper Cries,” Pompeo plays Missy Goldberg, a college classmate that both Ross and Chandler had a huge crush on. They had made a “pact” to honor the friendship by not asking her out.
Eventually, Ross gets the courage to break the pact and goes to ask out Missy. To his shock, he learns Chandler broke it back in college with a hookup.
Pompeo showed a light comedic touch in the part that’s different from the drama on Grey’s Anatomy.
Grey’s Anatomy seasons 1-17 streaming on Hulu.