The latest TV shakeup arrived on Friday when actor Justin Chambers announced he was leaving Grey’s Anatomy (Thursdays on CTV) after 15 years. The actor, who was one of the four remaining original cast members on the long-running medical drama, made the surprising announcement on January 10 with the additional news that his final episode had already aired. Now it appears Chambers’ departure may have been to focus on his mental health.
Chambers made the shocking announcement via a statement to Deadline on Friday, writing “There’s no good time to say goodbye to a show and character that’s defined so much of my life for the past 15 years. For some time now, however, I have hoped to diversify my acting roles and career choices. And, as I turn 50 and am blessed with my remarkable, supportive wife and five wonderful children, now is that time.”
The actor went on to thank ABC and Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes and his co-stars, adding “As I move on from Grey’s Anatomy, I want to thank the ABC family, Shonda Rimes, original cast members Ellen Pompeo, Chandra Wilson and James Pickens, and the rest of the amazing cast and crew, both past and present, and, of course, the fans for an extraordinary ride.”
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Chambers’ departure shocked longtime fans of the series, with the actor’s character Dr. Alex Karev leaving without much of a send-off. Chambers’ final appearance was in the November 14 episode of Grey’s Anatomy when his character helped Pompeo’s Meredith Grey get her medical license back. In the November 21 mid-season finale, Chambers’ Karev was physically absent, having left town to visit his mother.
Now it appears that Chambers’ sudden exit may have been the result of health issues. According to Page Six, the 49-year-old actor has been seeking treatment at Privé-Swiss in Connecticut, the same treatment facility where Kit Harington and Selena Gomez have both been patients. According to a source close to Chambers, “Justin has been at [Privé-Swiss] for stress and life coaching. He has been seen in the area at different places over several weeks including at a restaurant at Old Saybrook — where he was nice and chatted to other diners, but looked very thin.”
A second source revealed “Justin was at Privé-Swiss being treated for stress, depression and life-coaching. There is a lot going on with [“Grey’s Anatomy”] behind-the-scenes right now.”
Chambers’ sudden exit makes more sense considering the actor’s treatment for mental health issues. As one of four original cast members remaining on the show, Chambers’ departure would normally be accompanied by a big on-screen sendoff for Karev. Chambers’ co-star Ellen Pompeo responded to the news of his exit with a heartfelt tweet, an indication that whatever is happening behind the scenes at Grey’s Anatomy is not in any way negative.
— Ellen Pompeo (@EllenPompeo) January 11, 2020
Since Chambers’ announcement on Friday, many fans and co-stars have expressed their sadness over the actor’s departure, which leaves the show with several unknowns.
Justin Chambers is the real deal in every possible way. Kind and funny. Too funny. Got me in trouble for laughing too much. Also, he is a great actor who doesn’t take himself seriously, but just invisibly slips into the moment. Masterful and relaxed. What a run. 👏🏼 https://t.co/GHNnvQxseh
— Elizabeth Reaser (@reasereaser) January 10, 2020
not to be dramatic, BUT Justin Chambers leaving Greys Anatomy has ruined my whole year 🥺 pic.twitter.com/clEGEO686K
— sav jade (@_savannahhjade) January 11, 2020
— m (@merxxgrey) January 10, 2020
thank you alex karev and thank you justin chambers, for being & portraying the character with the best development. greys anatomy doesn’t make sense without you now. karev i wish you nothing but happiness, love you <3 🥺 pic.twitter.com/7QyMhAIsD9
— m (@angeIexie) January 11, 2020
finding out justin chambers/alex karev is leaving grey’s anatomy like… don’t contact me for the next 5-8 business days, I am not ok. pic.twitter.com/zjH0FzbI2j
— karleigh✨ (@karleeighwright) January 11, 2020
What will happen to Chambers’ on-screen wife Camila Luddington, who plays Jo? Who will be ‘the person’ for Pompeo’s Meredith? How will the new hospital Pac North run without Dr. Karev? And who will deliver the best sarcastic one-liners? Alex Karev, we miss you already.
Grey’s Anatomy returns with new episodes, and sadly no Justin Chambers, on Thursday, January 23.