BROOKE SMITH, a former guest star on “Grey’s Anatomy” as Dr. Erica Hahn, the heart surgeon character who used to taunt Dr. Burke (Isaiah Washington), has now joined the libidinal surgical fray full time. Smith has appeared on “Weeds” and “Crossing Jordan” and “Six Feet Under” and, yup, she was the girl in the pit who wouldn’t put the lotion in the basket in “The Silence of the Lambs.”
So how did this come about -- did you hatch some scheme with [“Grey’s” creator and executive producer] Shonda Rhimes?
No! I’ve been dabbling over there in Season 2 and then in Season 3. After every time I would hope that they would call and also hope not too -- kind of like when I used to be single. And they finally actually called!
OK! So how’s it going? Everyone is so unpleasant!
They are? You mean the characters.
Indeed! A little gritty, a little narcissistic. . . .
Oh yeah. That.
And your own is a little abrasive.
Yes. I’ve heard that word used before. What’s the question?
You’re the first person to ever confront me on not asking questions. You must have been to a lot of therapy or something.
Oh, that was years ago, but I need to go back.
Oh, we’ll circle back to that. So?
She’s a professional! She’s a workaholic! She has little rules in her head about how you’re supposed to act at work. That doesn’t mean she can’t break the rules. But everyone else is supposed to follow them.
And you made your grand entrance to the set as a full-timer? Was there cake?
No cake! I got a bottle. I got a little, you know, thermos. I think one thing that should be mentioned and applauded is that they have banished plastic bottles from the set. Isn’t that cool? It’s the first time I’ve seen it. The thermos says ‘Grey’s Anatomy Season 4.’ You have to be responsible with that thermos. You have to bring it with you. Because you have to hydrate. It’s the desert here.
I’m assuming that it actually turns out that everyone is nice with some exceptions.
I haven’t met anyone who’s not nice there. Truthfully! And I’ve known some of those people before. I did a movie with Patrick [Dempsey], and I did a play with Sandra [Oh] in New York called “Stop Kiss.” We were lovers!
So you know each other quite well!
We do! When I first got to “Grey’s,” she told the producers I was a good kisser. Ooh, very controversial. And I did a “Law & Order” a million years ago with Ellen [Pompeo]. And T.R. [Knight]! I met T.R. at the O’Neill Theater Festival. Very highbrow. What can I say?
Wow. So they’re not the ones sending you back to therapy.
Obviously it’s my own issues. I admit it. It’s ridiculous. But I got very neurotic about the fact that I didn’t go to medical school. I’m not actually a doctor.
It was really stressing me out because I have to look like I’ve been doing it a long time. Even the stethoscope, the ear part? If you looked at it you would think there was an obvious way it would go in your ears but it’s actually the opposite. Right there it freaks me out! If I have to make an entrance and put that in my ears? That caused me a lot of stress and anxiety. Oh, I dunno! I figure if I look stupid they’ll tell me. I’ve told them that.
Are you better at interviews than other actors? And I am alluding to your mother [Lois Smith, the famous publicist].
You should know the answer to that.
You seem carefree -- you seem unhindered and uncoached.
And frankly this is my second interview that I’ve given in I don’t know how many years. I haven’t been interviewed in a long time! I don’t know how my mom being a publicist would even help me.
Now you’re shooting in Crazy Town full time -- do you have time for a real life?
I’m not even working the rest of the week. I’m OK. I have a little girl, she goes to school, and I have a husband, he’s a cinematographer and working right now. We live up in Beachwood Canyon. Very enjoyable. It’s pretty much: Work, school, a little hiking.
Right now I’m looking at downtown but I can hear the coyotes in the backyard. I think people don’t like coyotes, but I do. I don’t want them to eat my dog or anything.
It sounds adult.
It is a little bit adult, I think. That’s what my husband said when we rented this house: “It’s an adult house.” But if not now, when? I just turned 40, for God’s sakes, I might as well be an adult now.