When Grey's Anatomy returned for its midseason premiere this week, the long-running medical drama broke more than just a few hearts. During Thursday's two-hour crossover premiere event with Station 19, the doctors of Grey Sloan Memorial lost one of their own, and while fans may be reeling over the tragic ending, the actor behind the white lab coat is "more than satisfied" with how his story came to a close. Warning: This post contained spoilers for Grey's Anatomy Season 17, Episode 7, "Helplessly Hoping."
By the end of Thursday night's all-new episode, Dr. Andrew DeLuca was gone. Portrayed by Giacomo Gianniotti since 2015, DeLuca died after was stabbed in his attempt to pursue and expose a sex trafficker, with the character dying while on the operating table in emergency surgery. While DeLuca's death sent shockwaves through the fandom and notably angered some, Gianniotti told Entertainment Tonight that he is "more than satisfied" with his onscreen counterpart's tragic end, explaining that he doesn't "see how they could have done more for DeLuca or explained more with DeLuca."
Gianniotti said he first learned his time on Grey's would be coming to an end when showrunner Krista Vernoff and executive producer Debbie Allen called him into their office and "said that they wanted to talk to me about this storyline." According to the actor, Vernoff and Allen told him they tried the storyline "a thousand different ways," but they kept "coming to the same conclusion that they'd want me to tell a story, which unfortunately ended in DeLuca's demise." He said the storyline was "really beautiful" and was "an opportunity to highlight a huge issue of human trafficking."
"I've been on the show for a long time -- seven seasons -- and I think this is a good time to exit and have a fresh start," he said. "I was very in love with the story and the time it took to tell it properly. It's been a really, really amazing and satisfying experience for the past month and a half shooting this episode and going through the process of making it."
While Gianniotti admitted that he was initially "shocked" to learn his character would die in Season 17, he said "it was beautiful and we had a great conversation," during which they reflected on "how beautiful it's been and how we get to give DeLuca a send-off that is worthy of his character." He said he feels "very happy about the experience."
Although DeLuca may be gone, Gianniotti's involvement in Grey's isn't over quite yet. The actor recently directed Season 17, Episode 11, a new role that he said was "so satisfying." He said he felt as though he's "been given the greatest gift in the world to have my first hour of primetime that I directed be with all of these people that I love so dearly and who love me back and who made this whole experience so joyful and beautiful." He added that it was "a nice way to say goodbye over a period of time and not have to rush."