At the end of tonight's episode of Private Practice, Charlotte King, the bitch-with-a-heart-of-gold doctor played by KaDee Strickland, will be attacked and raped by a deranged patient (played by Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum Nicholas Brendon). The incident kicks off a season-long storyline that will touch every character on the series.
Shonda Rhimes (Private Practice showrunner): "A lot of violence against women on television is from the point of view of law enforcement, as opposed to standing in the shoes of the actual victim and seeing how it is for them and the people around them."
The series' November 4 episode will be unlike any episode previously aired. It will revolve solely around the immediate aftermath of the brutal attack.
Shonda Rhimes: "It takes place all in one night, and it's [set] almost entirely in the hospital. And there's almost no music. It's a fairly silent episode. It's a compelling, painful episode. The work KaDee did in it was amazing."
EW.com's Michael Ausiello interviewed KaDee Strickland about the storyline. Here's a few excerpts from the interview.
What went through your mind when Shonda presented the story to you?
KADEE STRICKLAND:I was thrilled. I was so on board. It's funny, we were at a table read and I gave Shonda my usual hug and "What's up?" and she said, "I'm going to do something with your character this season, and it's huge and you'll know soon." And I'm like, "Are you kidding me?" Once she saw the look on my face, she said, "We are going to have Charlotte be raped this season. Are you okay with that?" And my response was "Hell, yes. Let's do it. Let's go. I'm in."
Why were you so enthusiastic about it?
STRICKLAND: There's something wonderful about playing a character for four years and then having her completely turned on her head. Creatively, it's a real gift for an actor. I also knew that this would reach so many people who have either experienced it or have been close to people who have experienced it. The only thing I said was that we have to get it right. And Shonda was totally on board with that.
Talk to me about the Nov. 4 episode.
STRICKLAND: It was amazing. It's a page-turner. It doesn't feel like our show—and I don't say that with any negativity toward our show. It almost feels like a movie in some ways, because it takes place in one night.
Rape stories are a dime a dozen on TV these days. How will this one be different?
STRICKLAND: I think what you'll find different about this is that Shonda poured her heart and soul into getting it as accurate as possible. And it is. I mean, it's legitimately very accurate. We worked very closely with RAINN [Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network] on this. Also, we in no way are going to let this thing go away in four episodes. Charlotte will live with this for as long as she's a character on Private Practice.
Did you use a stunt double while shooting the assault?
STRICKLAND: No way. I wasn't letting anybody else step into those shoes. I would've been heartbroken if anyone suggested it. We had a great stunt coordinator, and we gave [Nicholas Brendon] full permission to go for it. I didn't want to act around it and play around with it. I wanted to make it as realistic as possible.
Did you get injured?
STRICKLAND: Yeah, a little bit. It was really safe, but I definitely wasn't unscathed. And I don't think [Nicholas] was either. Let's just say that the day after, the makeup artists had a few legitimate bruises to cover up.
I understand Addison is the only person Charlotte confides in about the actual rape. I'm guessing that will bring those two characters closer together.
STRICKLAND: I love what it does to my dynamic with Addison. She is our hero, and it's really fascinating what they've given us here. It's a different dynamic than we have gotten to play together.
To learn more about RAINN, call 800.656.HOPE.
Private Practice airs Thursdays @ 10pm on ABC.