‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Kelly McCreary On Why It’s So ‘Hard’ For Maggie To Overcome Sabrina’s Death

Maggie may be starting a new chapter at Pac North, but Kelly McCreary doesn't think her 'Grey's Anatomy' character is out of the woods just yet, following the sudden death of cousin Sabrina.

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Image Credit: ABC/Mike Rosenthal

Grey’s Anatomy star Kelly McCreary, 38, recently opened up about how she prepared for her current Season 16 storyline, in which Maggie deals with the unexpected death of her cousin, Sabrina (played by real-life sister Crystal McCreary). “The way that I prepared [for this storyline] was that I did an inventory of Maggie’s psychological state, which fundamentally, she is a perfectionist. She has always been good and has never failed. Always good at anything she tries scientifically and never failed. That’s such a huge part of her identity,” Kelly told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY at the #BlogHer20 Health summit in Los Angeles on Feb. 1. Kelly, who appeared on the Hollywood On Health panel, said it was “crushing” for Maggie to deal with the death of her cousin, Sabrina, whom she was in charge of saving after her father, and Sabrina’s uncle — Richard — forced her to operate.

Kelly said she could only imagine that it’s heartbreaking when you’re “going in for a planned surgery and you make an error as a doctor.” She continued, “Maggie has never done that before. Understanding that and comparing that to my own identity, the things that I… that if they changed, if I had to redefine them, it would maybe kill a little part of me or just be hard to recover from. I think that was my way into her state.”

“One of the things that I thought about was how obsessive Maggie is about medical things. I imagined her replaying over and over those moments. The moment of the mistake, the moment of the realization, the moment of Sabrina’s death, not being able to get that out of her head and how absolutely paralyzing that would be. Not just depressing, but the feeling of not being able to move out beyond those recollections and the feelings that would bring up for her. That’s the way I approached what state she would be in after that,” Kelly explained.

As for whether or not Kelly thinks Sabrina’s death was Maggie’s fault, she told us, “It’s really hard for me to find blame. I think that there were a lot of really unfavorable factors working against Sabrina. I don’t think [Richards or Maggie] really need to own the blame by themselves.” She added, “I think that it could be very easy to judge Richard for having exercised poor judgment. Or judge Maggie for not getting over it and just snapping right back. But I think that when you try to understand the whole of their perspective on the thing, you deepen your compassion, you deepen your empathy for these fictional characters and hopefully you carry that kind of empathy and that willingness to give each other grace into your real relationships. That’s, I think, the value of good storytelling on TV.”

Fortunately, there’s plenty of story to come, and after watching last week’s episode, in which Maggie accepted a new position at Pac North with Richard and Alex (formerly played by Justin Chambers), Maggie may finally be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. However, she still has to deal with that wrongful death lawsuit.

New episodes of Grey’s Anatomy air Thursdays at 9pm on ABC.

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