Grey's Anatomy's Jake Borelli On An Illuminating Levi-Centric Hour, Representation, and LGBTQ+ Rom-Coms!

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The thing about Levi Schmitt is we love him.

He's become a fan-favorite, and on Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 12, we're going to learn even more about him.

It's another one of those standalone hours the series has done well over the years, and we can expect half of it to focus on Levi.

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It's an hour that will touch upon Levi's ongoing path as an out and proud gay man, the importance and complexities of family, and his faith as well. Fans have been eager to learn more about the lovable resident, and his journey coming out and finding love has been of the strongest arcs over the past couple of seasons. 

We caught up with Jake Borelli, who graciously gave us a preview of the hour and Levi's journey throughout the season.

He also spoke about the importance of LGBTQ+ representation and his upcoming film, Freeform's first gay rom-com The Thing About Harry.

Check out what we discussed below.

Levi's call - tall  - Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 4

TVF: Well, I'll start by saying: congratulations on surviving the crossover!

Jake: [laughs]Thank you very much! I was scared there for a little while.

You were in the clear pretty early on, and then it was just Helm who everyone was super concerned about.

Yeah, yeah, for sure. It was a scary one for everyone.

Levi Shunned - tall  - Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 9

And I noticed that fans responded well to the final scene with all of you guys in Helm's room. It felt like uh, a rite of passage as the new batch, you guys going through your first huge catastrophe together. Do you think it has bonded the new group of residents?

Oh, it for sure does, and I think, you know, before the accident, there was a lot of turmoil within our friendships. I had sort of been pushed to the side because everyone was mad about, sort of, me throwing Meredith under the bus in terms of her insurance fraud trial and all of that.

And they were sort of shunning me, and I think it took something as big as this accident to make people realize that there are more important things in life and uh, that it was time to forgive and get by.

So, yeah, it definitely bonded us and that sort of solidified our friendship.

Jake Borelli - 2

It was really sweet, and I'm sure Levi is relieved because it was bothering him, getting ostracized from the rest of the group for so long. I mean, he did what he was supposed to do, and he was getting punished for doing the right thing.

Yeah, 100%. He's a truth-teller.

So the upcoming episode, we're going home with Levi, right?

Yeah. You know we have a bunch of the standalone episodes throughout the season, and that's really exciting to have Levi be at the forefront of one of them, and you know, see a little bit deeper into his life, and what it's like at home.

Levi and His Mom - Tall  - Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 12

I think one of the last ones was with Amelia going home, so is it going to be similar to that?

Yeah, right now he's healing from his Broken Heart Syndrome that happened after the accident. He had to take a couple of weeks off of working at the hospital, so he's back at home living with his mom, in the basement.

That sort of starts out with her coming down and telling him that one of his favorite uncles, Saul, is not doing so well. He's in hospice at his nursing home, and he's kind of an unlikable character.

My mom is not the biggest fan of Saul, so she basically says if I want to see him before things get worse, now is the time. So that's what it starts with Levi in the episode.

Daniel - Tall  - Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 12

This sounds interesting. And we get to see -- Levi's always talking about his mother, so we get to see her again.

Yeah, yeah. We get to see his mom again. You know we saw him coming out to her, which was, you know, a huge emotional thing, a big step in his life.

And in the beginning, we thought she was sort of onboard and happy for him, and proud of it; but we see little things trickling through, uh, like the whole episode that aired in October.

We sort of saw that his mom might not be the most accepting of talking about it outside of the home, and about him expressing himself in a large way, and so I think they have a very, very, tight relationship, but I think we're starting to see a little bit more of the nuances and how she is reacting to his queerness.

Levi's Mom - Tall  - Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 12

So, will Nico appear in there too? To be a support to Levi?

Yeah, so Nico is home too, helping take care of Levi. And yeah, because Saul means a lot to Levi, he thinks it's important to introduce his boyfriend to his uncle as well, which is another huge obstacle that Levi is facing in the episode.

So, he's beginning to reach even further out of the closet when it comes to his family, and I think we're going to see Levi is pretty shocked with how his uncle takes the news, so it's going to be quite a ride for Levi and his family.

Nico Takes Care of Levi  - Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 12

It sounds like it, and I think so far, you guys have done a really good job with um, his arc, and I know it has resonated with a lot of people. And you explore all the stages of self-realization and coming out and then the entire process of it you know in bits and pieces.

Yeah, yeah, and Levi has always come from the side of really being proud to be gay, and really being -- feeling like coming out has been something that has empowered him, and this episode is going to go further into that for him too.

I think it's another episode that really talks about standing your ground and really owning yourself in the coming out process.

I'm looking forward to that because he's always been one of my favorite of the newbies. He's so endearing and has such a heartfelt story, and I think he touches people a great deal, and you're always so good.

Thank you. [laughs] Thanks, I love Levi a lot.

It's hard not to, he's so lovable and relatable because he's just, his awkwardness and all of that, I think it is still very real and relatable.

But you also got to work with Peter Paige, which is awesome.

Yeah. Yeah, I did.

I also review Good Trouble, and I reviewed The Fosters. But you got to work with him on The Thing About Harry.

Yeah, yeah. I got a wonderful opportunity to work with him on his movie The Thing about Harry, which is it's you know one of the first queer rom coms. It's for Freeform.

It comes out in a couple of weeks, so we're very, very, very excited about that.

The Thing About Harry  Season 16 Episode 12

I'm excited about it too.

Over the holidays, I was covering some of the Lifetime holiday movies, and there was a lot of really interesting discourse about the difference between Lifetime and Hallmark. 

But also about how it's just not enough diversity in their films, especially holiday stuff, and that extends to like Valentine's Day with rom-coms and stuff too.

Oh, one-hundred percent.

Sharing a Laugh  Season 16 Episode 12

And just not having that representation at all, and I think the timing couldn't be better coming off of just all of those discussions to have this movie coming out, and it would be on Freeform, of course, and you know just a nice, cute LGBT rom-com.

Yeah, it's something I haven't seen at all in the genre because like you're saying, there have been queer people in rom-coms, but they're usually sort of pushed off to the side characters, or the best friend, or the guy that wants to go, you know, buy a wedding dress, and they're not flushed out.

They're not fully real human beings, so the great thing about this movie is it's unabashedly a rom-com, through and through.

But the only difference is that it follows two queer guys, and it sort of puts queer people at the forefront of the film. And it gives people like me the opportunity to watch a romcom without having to filter ourselves, without having to pretend like we're, you know, either the guy or the girl in the relationship.

It's like, no, you're the main person, you know? You're the person who's going through this love story in a very universal way. It's beautiful.

Yeah, I was excited to see that, and since I follow all of you, I was seeing all the ads, and I knew I would probably be reviewing that too.

[laughs]

I do love a good rom-com. So can you tell me a little bit about your character and the movie?

Yes, I play Sam. He's a young professional, and he works politics, and he has been out and proud since high school, so for quite a bit of his life.

And high school wasn't the easiest time for him because he was out in Missouri. He was bullied quite a bit, and so as we flash forward to him sort of working his way up as a young professional in Chicago, he runs into his old bully, who is Harry.

And Harry comes out to him as a queer person and that sort of throws a wrench into everything he thought Harry. And it's sort of a catalyst for this newfound relationship that they have. And we see them walking the line between friends and falling in love.

Jake Borelli - 1

Just all of the best tropes thrown together into a really cute movie. Road trips are the best, especially if they might fall in love at the end.

We'll see. You'll have to watch the movie to see if it works out for them.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it does. Because I'm really excited to see this. I think it's very important.

OK, is there anything else you can tease us about Grey's? We're excited for the rest of the season. Yeah, I'm excited for everyone to learn a little bit more about Levi.

We get to look a little bit more into his family and their Jewish heritage, which I think is a really interesting thing we get to dive deeper into.

We get to learn a little bit about how Jewish people deal with, um, the medical side of things, and the potential death of a loved one, around bereavement ... it's quite a wonderful journey.

Spending Time with Family  - Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 12

Wow. I'm definitely looking forward to that too. I think Judaism is something else not fully explored often, not in great detail anyway. You know, Judaism and just the culture surrounding it.

Yeah, and it's such a huge part of Levi and his family, and the relationship between him and his mother, and his uncle, so it's great.

We've seen Levi say Jewish prayers for some of the patients at the end of last season that he learned from his mother, and so we've seen little sprinkles of it here and there, but we get to go quite a bit deeper in this episode.

I'm looking forward to all of this.

OK, and is Levi interested in a specialty? I can't quite place him.

[laughs] You know right now he's still a second-year resident and so they still, you know, bop around to different attendings; they're still learning all the different fields. He hasn't quite settled into one pack yet, but I'm just as excited as the fans to figure out where he'll be placed.

I'm thinking general. I feel that.

Yeah? Following Meredith Grey's footsteps? That would be fun! Yeah.

Yeah, it's Bailey though, too, you know? That combination of the two.

Yeah, Bailey too.

Levi Crumbles

Right, he has that sort of bond with both of them. I think that, oh, you guys were -- for one, during the crossover, Chandra Wilson was like incredible the entire time.

Oh, she was wonderful! I walked up to her at the table read the other day, and I gave her a big hug, and I was like, "oh my gosh, did you see Thursday's episode it was so amazing!"

And she was like "Oh yeah, I watch them all of the time," and I was like a fan. I walked up to her and fangirled over her. [Laughs]

I know, I love that about you. You fangirl over the show just as much as we do![laughs]

Oh my gosh. It was the first thing I did when I walked into the table read, I beelined to her, and I was like Oh. My. God. Let's talk!

Bailey  Mourns - tall  - Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 11

[Laughs] She was so incredible, and her scene speaking about her miscarriage with Richard, but I also loved the scene she had with you. Where she was trying to get both of you guys to pull it together for the rest of the residents.

You guys were so great in that scene, and it seems like Levi has gotten used to all of the crazy at Grey Sloan. He still has his freakouts, but he's learning how to pull it together.

He's getting better. He's growing in his confidence. We've seen him develop quite a bit over the last few years, which is wonderful, and he's been in a lot of crazy situations.

Who knows? Maybe he'll end up in Trauma!

Jake Borelli - 2 - Cropped

Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9/8c on ABC.

Tune in this Thursday for a Levi-centric hour.

You can also catch Jake on The Thing About Harry, February 15 at 8/7c on Freeform.

If you need to catch up, you can watch Grey's Anatomy online here via TV Fanatic. 

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Grey's Anatomy Quotes

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DEREK: "This thing with us is finished. It's over."
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MEREDITH: "It is done."