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Sandra Oh not sure if she'll tune in for 'Grey's Anatomy' departure

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TORONTO - After 10 seasons of sobs and scrubs on "Grey's Anatomy," Ottawa-raised star Sandra Oh isn't sure if she'll tune in as her character departs from the series in Thursday's season finale.

Oh — who has endeared audiences as steely perfectionist Dr. Cristina Yang on the ABC medical drama — says she hasn't really watched the series, save for the pilot when she thought: "Exciting, hey, I have a job, I'm going to watch the first episode!'"

She finds it "kind of unbearable" to see herself acting, she explained with a laugh in a recent telephone interview. Plus, she gets enough satisfaction from already knowing the storylines and acting them out.

Still, Oh has considered catching her final episode, which — if a recent promo is any indication — is sure to elicit tears as it airs at 9 p.m. ET on CTV.

"Maybe I should watch it. I guess I'll watch it at home. I don't know! Dinnertime might get in the way, I don't know!" the affable actress exclaimed from Los Angeles. "I'll probably just watch it by myself here at home."

"But I feel like I want to say goodbye on my own time that's not on, like, Thursday nights at 9 o'clock, that's not on the schedule," added Oh, who won a Golden Globe for the role.

"So if ... it feels right to me, then I'll watch it. And it if doesn't, then I'll watch it in 10 years from now or whenever it feels right."

Oh announced last August that the 10th season of "Grey's" would be her last, ending a tenure in which she has deftly portrayed a roller coaster of emotions in plenty of high-drama situations as keener Cristina.

She said she arrived at the decision two years ago when a friend of hers who ran Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater asked her when she was planning to leave "Grey's." At that point, her contract was due to expire at the end of the 10th season and Oh said she "just could not imagine the show going more than 10 seasons."

"So I said, 'Definitely, legally all that stuff, I am done May of 2014,' and he goes, 'Fine, we're booking a play in 2014.'"

That play is Ariel Dorfman's "Death and the Maiden," which runs June 13 to July 13. Oh plays a former political prisoner who thinks she recognizes the man who tormented her in a military detention centre.

"The play was starting to help me think about life beyond or past 'Grey's,'" said the five-time Emmy nominee.

"When I was making the decision, it was not a quick, snap decision at all. It took a long time. I gave myself, honestly, two years to process it. The first thing came when I said, 'OK, yes, I'm going to do this play.' And it's like, you say you're going to do something in two years from now, you can say no.

"But I basically stuck to it just knowing that I had a goal in the forefront."

Oh was already a Genie- and Critics Choice Award-winning star of films including "Double Happiness" and "Sideways" when "Grey's" launched in 2005.

She said one of the greatest elements of the series has been the dynamic between Cristina and her confidant, Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), "who were rivals at first and who were women who are really trying to find their way through their careers and through their passion and through themselves and through their friendships."

Oh has also loved portraying "a woman who actually knows what she wants and has not compromised her sense of being, and chose her relationship to herself before her relationship to a partner or to a child."

"I think that's a really important face to have on television, a woman being true to herself and not compromising," she said. "It's not like you don't see her compromise, because you have. But ultimately to the core of who she is, she's always been committed to herself — and that is to be a great surgeon."

It's fitting, then, that Cristina's career is also seemingly the catalyst for her departure from the show.

Her fate took a turn after she reunited with former flame Dr. Preston Burke, played by Isaiah Washington, who returned to "Grey's" earlier this month — seven years after he was fired from the show.

"I was happy to do that episode, because it really did feel like she was able to close a chapter in her life," said Oh.

Filming Thursday's finale about two weeks ago was "really hard, and also it was really joyous," she said, noting the cast and crew celebrated with cake and apple juice. Her parting gift from them was the call sheet from the first episode, which was labelled "Untitled Shonda Rhimes Project" and had a different surname for her character.

Oh said she's "so grateful" for the show's loyal fanbase, and she joined Twitter this year specifically to connect to them on her "farewell journey."

But would she consider returning for a cameo on the show?

"Oh sure, if there's like a final episode," said Oh. "I mean, who knows how long this show is going to go on for. Yeah, I would love to, if they'll have me."

— Follow @VictoriaAhearn on Twitter.

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