Emmys: How 'Private Practice's' KaDee Strickland Handled Her Rape Scene (Q&A)

21 FEA EMMY Private Practice
Ron Tom/ABC

The actress tells THR, "I have never done anything this rewarding -- ever."

The Hollywood Reporter: You've garnered a lot of Emmy buzz for the episode "Did You Hear What Happened to Charlotte King?", in which your character was brutally raped. How did show creator Shonda Rhimes pitch you on the idea?

KaDee Strickland: She usually likes to keep things secret, but she really wanted to see how I felt about performing it first before she wrote it -- though I think she knew I would champion the idea. I wouldn't trust just anybody to write this story, but when you have Shonda writing it, I was like, "Do it, go."

THR: Had you ever performed something so grueling on television?

Strickland: No. I have never done anything this rewarding -- ever. A lot of actors never get their hands on something that can be that life-altering. I've never felt as close to a character's arc as I have in this. I've also never trusted someone like I trusted Shonda, and, frankly, I don't know if I have ever been entrusted with so much. It was a profoundly life-changing experience.

THR: What kind of response did you get after the episode aired last fall?

Strickland: Incredible. We partnered with the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) to promote the episode. We crashed their website the night it aired. To know I helped people seek the help they needed is beyond meaningful. 

THR: Charlotte is normally very stoic, tough-as-nails, but we see her vulnerability come out in this episode. How closely do you relate to her?

Strickland: I wouldn't say that I am really close to Charlotte in personality or otherwise. Shonda created this thing for me to explore and then totally shifted it. She's asked a lot of me over the years that wouldn't have been in line with what people see when they first lay eyes on me. She's absolutely helped me become a better actor, but you have to come ready. She won't tolerate it if you don't!

THR: How does it feel that, after four years, your name is being mentioned in the same sentence as "Emmy contender"?

Strickland: Very humbling. We are all interesting critters when the magnitude of what we do gets shown to us. I am beyond excited to be on a show that is so good at relating to the human experience.