Retro-Cast: When Grey’s Anatomy was made in the 90s

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Grey’s Anatomy made his debut at ABC in 2005 with Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey, who led the surgeon cast in Seattle. But how would the successful medical drama series look different if it was shot in the 1990s? The stars would likely be made up of big and small names, and share many similarities between the actors who were eventually given the roles.

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from friends‘Jennifer Aniston too Bliss’s Keri Russell, Grays the ’90s would likely have had a younger star cast at the helm and would have benefited from guest stars who are also big movie stars like Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillipe. With this cast, the show would still be a hit, but maybe not as successful and long-lasting as the 2000 version.


12th Addison Montgomery – Nicole Kidman


The impact of Derek Shepherd’s secretly estranged wife and fellow medical doctor Addison Montogomery would have been the same staggering shock in the ’90s as it was in 2005, which is why the actor who plays her would have to be as remarkable as Kate Walsh.

Nicole Kidman became a huge movie star in the ’90s with films like Far and away and Die for and had the same fiery red hair that Addison fans know and love. Both she and Walsh are tall and captivating any screen they appear on, which would make her the perfect Addison Montgomery.

11 Preston Burke – Denzel Washington


Shared image of Preston Burke in Grey's Anatomy and Denzel Washington in John Q.

Preston Burke’s relationship with Cristina Yang was just as important for the first season of Grey’s Anatomy as the best couple on the show, Derek and Meredith. To maintain its relevance in the 90s, Burke would have had to be played by someone handsome, mysterious, and romantic.

Denzel Washington gained movie star status in the 1990s and would have been very sought after to appear on the ABC series. He would have given Burke a charm that didn’t exist before, and possibly could have made Cristina and Burke’s relationship more popular than Derek and Meredith’s.

10 Richard Webber – James Avery


Shared image by Richard Webber in Grey's Anatomy and James Avery in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Richard Webber has been a main character since the first episode on the series and continues to this day. Due to his relationship with Meredith’s mother, Ellis provided many storylines and twists throughout the series, as did his role as Chief of Surgery at Seattle Grace.

Casting a Richard as great as James Pickens Jr. would have been a difficult task, however The Prince of Bel-Air Patriarch James Avery would have fit the role very well in the ’90s. Avery’s character of Uncle Phil in the popular Will Smith sitcom bore strong resemblances to Richard Webber’s, as both acted as surrogate fathers for the show’s title characters.

9 Mark Sloan – Ethan Hawke


Shared image of Mark Sloane in Grey's Anatony & Ethan Hawke in Before Sunset.

Casting the perfect 1990 Mark Sloan would have been difficult because whoever played the role had to strike the perfect balance between arrogance and kindness. Regardless of the era, not many actors can create this combination without appearing unappealing and, worse, uninteresting.

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While Ethan Hawke wouldn’t be much older than the rest of the actors on the show, making it hard for him to have the same age gap as Eric Dane in the 2000s, he would be a brilliant marrow and charm simply because of his attitude. Almost every character Hawke plays is a lovable villain, and Mark would be no exception.

8th Lexie Gray – Keri Russell


Lexie Gray in Grey's Anatomy & Keri Russell in Felicity.

Lexie Gray was the doe-eyed, kind-hearted younger sister of Meredith Gray and was featured as the main character in the series’ fourth season. Lexie would have been played by someone who looked young and naive but really had a quick mind.

Keri Russell would have been a perfect fit since working on the role bliss required a similar mix of intelligence and cautious inexperience. Plus, Russell and Jennifer Aniston, the ’90s Meredith Gray, look so similar it would be easy to believe they were sisters.

7th Miranda Bailey – Lisa Bonet


Miranda Bailey in Grey's Anatomy & Lisa Bonet in Angel Heart.

Miranda Bailey was an integral part of Grey’s Anatomy‘s success since the pilot episode. Her speech to the interns explaining her five rules set the tone of the show, and she has remained one of the best characters all these years later.

Like Chandra Wilson, Lisa Bonet had a build small enough not to be immediately intimidating, but once she opened her mouth, she dominated every room she was in. Bailey’s strength lies in her ability to lead, and Bonet would have the ’90s interns on the right track.

6th George O’Malley – Paul Rudd


George O'Malley in Grey's Anatomy & Paul Rudd in Clueless.

George O’Malley was the dumbest of the original interns who became one of them Grey’s Anatomyare good doctors. TR Knight played him great for the first five seasons because he was able to gain audience sympathy even when George was wrong; he was so personable.

Paul Rudd’s goofy demeanor and general sympathy would have made him the perfect George. His unrequited love for Meredith had to be enchanting rather than desperate, and like him in Clueless‘Rudd could have done that well with his kind eyes and gentle demeanor.

5 Izzie Stevens – Gwenyth Paltrow


Izzie Stevens in Grey's Anatomy & Gwyneth Paltrow in Se7en.

Izzie Stevens is a Grey’s Anatomy Character that fans love to hate. Her exit was one of the worst the show has ever seen, and she’s still being called to this day because Alex Karev’s end involved her character despite not being on the show for nearly ten years.

RELATED: 5 Most Shameful Things Grey’s Anatomy’s Izzie Stevens Ever Did (& 4 She Should Be Proud of)

Anyone who played Izzie in the 90s should have had the confidence of Katherine Heigl and a similar statuesque look, as she was referred to as the “Doctor Model” in the first season. Gwenyth Paltrow would have been perfect for the role with her no-nonsense demeanor and strong moral conviction, which set Izzie apart in the show’s early years.

4th Alex Karev – Brad Pitt


Alex Karev in Grey's Anatomy & Brad Pitt in Thelma & Louise.

Justin Chambers made Alex Karev adorable, even though he was mean at first. Viewers had to warm up to his character, but eventually they raved about him and were happy about his happy life.

The only actor who could have done that in the 90s would have been Brad Pitt, who appeared in films like. often played a bad boy with a golden heart Thelma & Louise. Both Pitt and Chambers have similar looks in the way they smile and are both capable of conveying so much with just a sense of sadness and vulnerability in their eyes.

3 Cristina Yang – Lucy Liu


Cristina Yang in Grey's Anatomy and Lucy Liu in elementary school.

Before getting into the movie version of. was Charlie’s angel, Lucy Liu starred in the television series Ally McBeal and could be the 1990s version of Meredith Grey’s best friend and everyone’s favorite cardio doctor Cristina Yang. Sandra Oh’s portrayal of Cristina was perfect because it made her so sharp and yet vulnerable. Liu would have done a fantastic job if the series had been filmed ten years earlier. Oh’s lead role on the show was enormous for Asian-American representation on television and should have been kept with the cast of the brilliant Liu in the ’90s.

2 Derek Shepherd – Peter Gallagher


Derek in Grey's Anatomy & Peter Gallagher in Sex, Lies & Videotape.

Neurosurgeon Derek Shepherd would have been just as popular with fans in the 1990s as he was in the 2000s. His character’s romance with Meredith Gray and his eventual death would only have such a big impact if he was played by someone as good as Patrick Dempsey.

With Peter Gallagher as Derek, the age difference that should exist between him and Meredith would be much more realistic and his kind eyes would definitely qualify him as a worthy “McDreamy”. After his acclaimed role in one of Steven Soderbergh’s best films Sex, lies and videotape‘Gallagher would have been in the right position to be offered the role and excel in it.

1 Meredith Gray – Jennifer Aniston


Meredith Gray in Grey's Anatomy & Jennifer Aniston in Friends.

Everyone wanted to be Jennifer Aniston in the 90s. After all, there was a haircut named after her character out friends. She would have been the first on the list of casting directors to play the title role Grey’s Anatomy.

In her decades-long career, Aniston has been able to create chemistry with just about any actor she starred with that she would have no problem playing Meredith Gray. While she was a sweetheart in her sitcom days, she is also capable of adding the intelligence and vulnerability to her acting that anyone portraying Meredith needs.

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