Sandra Oh Biography
Sandra Oh is a Canadian actress known for her role as Cristina Yang on the ABC medical drama series Grey’s Anatomy, from 2005-2014, a role that earned her a Golden Globe, two Screen Actors Guild awards, and five nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.
As of April 8, 2018, Oh began starring in a leading role, Eve Polastri, in BBC America’s murder-mystery series, Killing Eve which had, before debuting, already been renewed for a second season.
Sandra Oh Family
Oh, full name Sandra Miju Oh, was born on July 20, 1971, in the Ottawa suburb of Nepean, to middle-class Korean immigrant parents Oh Junsu (John) and Oh Young-nam, who had moved to Canada in the early 1960s. Her father is a businessman and her mother a biochemist.
Oh has a brother, Ray, and a sister, Grace. She grew up in a devout Christian household, living on Camwood Crescent in Nepean, where she began acting and ballet at an early age. While growing up, Oh was one of the few youths of Asian descent in Nepean.
She told her parents that she would try acting for a few years, and if that failed, return to school. Soon after graduating from the National Theatre School in 1993, she starred in a London, Ontario stage production of David Mamet’s Oleanna. Around the same time, she won roles in biographical TV films of two significant female Chinese-Canadians: as Vancouver author Evelyn Lau in The Diary of Evelyn Lau and as Adrienne Clarkson in a CBC biopic of Clarkson’s life.
Sandra Oh Career
Oh came to prominence in Canada for her lead performance in the Canadian film Double Happiness in 1996, playing Jade Li, a twenty-something Chinese Canadian woman negotiating her wishes and those of her parents. In 1997 she appeared in the film Bean playing the supporting role of Bernice, the art gallery PR manager. Her other Canadian films include Long Life, Happiness & Prosperity and Last Night, for which she again won a Best Actress Genie.
Sandra Oh Husband
Oh was in a relationship with filmmaker Alexander Payne for five years. They married on January 1, 2003, separated in early 2005, and got legally divorced in late 2006. The beautiful actress is currently in a relationship with Andrew Featherston since 2007.
Sandra Oh Movies and TV Shows
- 1994 Double Happiness
- 1995 Prey
- 1996 Cowgirl
- 1997 Bean
- 1998 Last Night
- 1998 The Red Violin
- 1998 Permanent Midnight
- 1999 Guinevere
- 2000 Waking the Dead
- 2000 Dancing at the Blue Iguana
- 2000 Three Lives of Kate
- 2001 The Princess Diaries
- 2001 Date Squad
- 2001 The Frank Truth
- 2002 Big Fat Liar
- 2002 Full Frontal
- 2002 Rick
- 2002 Long Life, Happiness & Prosperity
- 2002 Barrier Device
- 2003 Under the Tuscan Sun
- 2003 Owning Mahowny
- 2004 Sideways
- 2004 Wilby Wonderful
- 2004 Mulan II
- 2004 8 Minutes to Love
- 2005 Hard Candy
- 2005 Break a Leg
- 2005 Cake
- 2005 3 Needles
- 2005 Sorry, Haters
- 2005 Kind of a Blur
- 2006 The Night Listener
- 2006 For Your Consideration
- 2007 The Land Before Time XIII: The Wisdom of Friends
- 2007 Falling
- 2008 Blindness
- 2009 Defendor
- 2009 The People Speak
- 2010 Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey
- 2010 Ramona and Beezus
- 2010 Rabbit Hole
- 2015 The Scarecrow
- 2014 Tammy
- 2016 Window Horses
- 2017 Catfight
- 2017 Meditation Park
- 1989 Denim Blues
- 1992 Degrassi High: School’s Out
- 1994 The Diary of Evelyn Lau
- 1995 If Not for You
- 1995 Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years
- 1995 Cagney & Lacey: The View Through the Glass Ceiling
- 1996 Kung Fu: The Legend Continues
- 1996–2002 Arliss
- 1999 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child
- 2000 Popular
- 2001 Further Tales of the City
- 2001 Six Feet Under
- 2001 Judging Amy
- 2001–02 The Proud Family
- 2005, 2009, 2010, 2013 American Dad!
- 2005–14 Grey’s Anatomy
- 2006 Odd Job Jack
- 2006–07 American Dragon: Jake Long
- 2008, 2012 Phineas and Ferb
- 2009 Robot Chicken
- 2010 Thorne
- 2011 Sesame Street
- 2011 Michael: Every Day
- 2014 Betas
- 2015 Shitty Boyfriends
- 2016 Peg + Cat
- 2017 American Crime
- 2018-present Killing Eve
- 2018 She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
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Sandra Oh Awards
- 1994 Genie Awards for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in the film Double Happiness
- 1998 Genie Awards for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in the film Last Night
- 2004 Boston Society of Film Critics for Best Cast in the film Sideways
- 2004 Broadcast Film Critics Association for Best Cast in the film Sideways
- 2004 Phoenix Film Critics Society for Best Cast in the film Sideways
- 2004 Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture in the film Sideways
- 2005 Golden Globe Awards for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film on Grey’s Anatomy
- 2005 Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series on Grey’s Anatomy
- 2007 Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series on Grey’s Anatomy
- 2015 People’s Choice Awards for People’s Choice Awards for Favorite TV Character We Miss Most on Grey’s Anatomy
Sandra Oh Interview
‘Killing Eve’: Sandra Oh on Hunting Down an Assassin in BBC America’s Thrilling New Series
Updated: April 7, 2018
During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, actress Sandra Oh talked about how fulfilling her role on Killing Eve is, what she liked about the voice of the series, the experience of playing an unconscious character, the fascinating dynamic between Eve and Villanelle, working with a talent like Fiona Shaw (the agent who recruits Eve to track down the psychopathic female assassin, Villanelle), and her desire to continue exploring this story.
Collider: This character is amazing! Was this one of those roles where there was just no way that you would not want to do this?
SANDRA OH: It was so much fun and really, really, fulfilling. It was fun, on so many levels, to play opposite such fantastic actors, like Jodie [Comer] and Fiona [Shaw] and David Haig and Owen McDonnell, was just amazing. To be in London and to travel, we shot in five countries, which was just exciting to do. And then, working with Phoebe [Waller-Bridge] very, very closely was also very exciting.
This show is fun and smart, with two bad-ass women at its center, and I really loved it! Did you know it would be all of that, when you signed on?
OH: No. I don’t think you can ever know what things are going to evolve into, but there are certain things that I wanted to be aligned with. The fact that the voice of the show is a young woman’s voice, and her tone and style is very fresh, I definitely wanted to be aligned with that. I really like the vibe of the people at BBC American. And I liked the fact that this show is about these two women. My character is a person who is really trying to carve her place in the world, and is involved in a relationship with this assassin. I find that very curious. I was interested in trying to figure out why that is.
Do you feel like this is a woman who has really been unhappy with where she’s at?
OH: One of the reasons that I like playing Eve is that I find her to be a very unconscious character. I don’t think that she would even say that she’s unhappy. It’s almost like she’s just not awake. But the spark that happens with Villanelle leaves her wanting more and wanting to break out of her shell, and then you see that transition. You’ll see that really come alive. You’ll see it grow, more and more, through the eight episodes.
Do you think she ever would have gotten to that point without this happening to her?
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OH: No, I don’t think so. I think she would’ve just gone through life, fine and okay. She does have a natural curiosity, in that way, but the spark that happens between them, across countries, is the energy that really changes, forever, who she’s going to be.
I love how smart she is and how much more sassy and outspoken she’s becoming. Is that fun to get to play with?
OH: Definitely! I think that continues on, and then it also has room to unravel and get messy and get dark.
For people who are wondering what this show is, what can you say about the journey for this season?
OH: Killing Eve is about these two women who are hunting each other. They might think that it’s to stop the other person or kill the other person, but really, it’s to save the other person. They just don’t know that, themselves. This season is all about that first meeting.
They pretty much have to get to know each other without actually getting to do that directly.
What’s that like?
OH: I think it’s constantly fascinating. You’re having that dynamic with XYZ person in your life, who you might not be actually talking to. We’re dealing with that, all the time, in the leaders that we have and the pop stars that we love. You’re having a dynamic with them. It just goes from a dynamic that’s unconscious to becoming more conscious. They both really, really, really want it. Even though this show is about my and Jodie’s characters, we didn’t actually physically work with each other a lot, but we would always feel so present with each other. There were times where we’d have the same shooting day and we’d be like, “Hi, how are you?!” But it was still very, very rich. We were still definitely having a relationship. It’s also so great to come up with it, in your head. You think someone is something and you project all this stuff on them, and then you have to figure out whether that’s true or not.
There are such interesting dynamics on this show, without a huge ensemble, which makes it feel very personal.
OH: Stylistically, maybe we’re ready to come back to a smaller cast on television because we wanna spend more intimate time with people. I’m always fascinated with television because we view it differently and we shoot it differently. There’s the era of giant casts. There’s the era of big CGI. With our show, this is the time of spending really intimate, psychological time with these two people.
It seems like this is a tone that’s a little tricky. How was that to find the right balance of?
OH: I think it’s really, really tricky, but also what makes the show special. It’s hard to play. You feel like you know what it is, when it’s a sad scene or it’s a funny scene, but then something happens that upends that, which makes you lean in, be curious, be surprised, or it’s unexpected, and that’s the tone of the show. But, it has to be truthful. That’s the challenge. I’m trying to be truthful in the circumstance, and then something crazy happens, so how do I make that truthful, in my brain. But when we’ve hit those points, that’s what makes it special and odd.
Do you think Eve would still have taken this same path, right into the path of an assassin, if she had known where all of this would lead?
OH: That’s a great question. That’s a great life question, and it’s also an impossible question. I would say yes. That’s the great thing about maturing. You would never go back and, hopefully, you’re grateful for everything that brought you to this moment because, ultimately, it’s worth it ‘cause you’re alive and this is the moment. So, I don’t know. I would say yes, and I would also say no because there’s a lot of destruction that comes our way.
It seems like it can’t be stopped.
OH: You’re so right. That’s the thing, it can’t be stopped. When you’re in, you keep on going in.
What did you enjoy about working with Fiona Shaw?
OH: She’s so amazing! When I heard that Fiona Shaw was playing Carolyn, I was so excited. I saw her in Medea, in 2003 on Broadway. The first time I met her was at our read through and I was like, “I saw you on Broadway!,” and I did something that she did at the end of the play. I acted it out because I totally remembered it. That’s a beautiful example of a relationship that’s very, very deep and that will get really, really complicated. You have two women, where one is senior, and she does something that I think we all need more of, which is that she’s a person in a position of power, she sees something in someone, and she takes a risk and trusts what they can do. She trusts that she knows that this person has something. That’s because of Carolyn’s experience, confidence and instinct. I really liked that it’s Carolyn who’s bringing Eve into the fold and empowering her.
When you got to the end of the season, did it make you that much more excited to follow this woman more and delve into her deeper for more seasons?
OH: Well, I was so tired. I was just like, “Oh, it’s Christmas?!” We finished in mid-December, and then went right into the holidays. You never know. It makes me feel confident to hear people’s reactions to it. That really buoys me. We greatly hope that there’s a next season. I do love thinking about it.