“It’s kind of fun to play. It’s all clichés,” the 54-year-old Grey’s Anatomy alum exclusively told Us Weekly earlier this month while promoting her partnership with Alcon’s Systane Complete Preservative-Free Eye Drops. “I don’t speak French, but it’s really delightful for me to be able to play a character [who] thinks she speaks really good French and is actually speaking terrible French.”
The California native has played Chicago-based boss Madeline Wheeler since the Netflix series debuted in October 2020. Walsh joined the rest of the cast — including Lily Collins and Ashley Park — in France for season 2, but her personal experience in Europe ended up being much different from her character’s.
“The French are always really kind to me,” she told Us. “I think sometimes people can experience it as being tough in Paris if you’re American, but for me, everyone’s been so kind and welcoming. It’s just a dream to go work there.”
Although her character had trouble fitting in among the French, Walsh said it was “a blast to shoot” across the pond where both she and Madeline “ate their way through Paris.”
The Private Practice actress previously spoke to Us about the criticism surrounding Emily In Paris’ depiction of French culture back in 2020, claiming that the Darren Star-created series wasn’t “meant to be a drama or French realism.”
At the time, Walsh also pointed out that the show was about “an American in Paris,” which means “absurdity and kitsch” are part of the package deal.
Before her move to Netflix, the Perks of Being a Wallflower actress starred in Grey’s Anatomy as Dr. Addison Montgomery for three seasons from 2005 to 2007. She left the ABC series for her own medical drama, Private Practice, a spinoff of the Shonda Rhimes hit.
The Honest Thief star recently reprised her Grey’s Anatomy role during season 18, which is currently airing. Fans will see her have “a great medical story line, but with some great personal stuff,” Walsh said of her return.
“It’s been like [being] a little salmon swimming in the stream,” she told Us. “It was very emotional when I first went back. It was surreal. It’s like going back to a job that changed my life in amazing ways.”
Returning to Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital proved to be emotional for her character, who cried with Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) over Derek Shepherd’s (Patrick Dempsey) death, and the memories he left behind.
“[That] was definitely not my Systane Complete Preservative-Free Eye Drops,” Walsh joked in her interview with Us. “Those were real tears.”
However, the Alcone drops helped the actress in other ways, keeping her from “constantly blinking” and distracting her from important scenes. Walsh has 20/20 vision but suffers from dry eyes, and with just one drop, she said she can see better.
The drops can also help cut time on set. “I don’t have to redo [my makeup],” she told Us. “[And] one drop lasts eight hours.”
With reporting by Christina Garibaldi