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“Grey’s Anatomy”'s Kevin McKidd on the Impact of Teddy's Life-or-Death Medical Emergency (Exclusive)

Kevin McKidd opens up to PEOPLE about his 'Grey’s Anatomy’ character Owen Hunt going "quite quiet" following his wife Teddy Altman's medical emergency on the ABC medical drama

Liliane Lathan/ABC Kim Raver and Kevin McKidd on "Grey
Liliane Lathan/ABC Kim Raver and Kevin McKidd on "Grey's Anatomy"

This post contains spoilers from the season 20 premiere of Grey's Anatomy.

Kevin McKidd is teasing what’s ahead for his Grey's Anatomy character Owen Hunt and his wife Teddy Altman (Kim Raver) after she survived her medical emergency on the season 20 premiere.

The 50-year-old actor exclusively tells PEOPLE that navigating Teddy’s recovery will be a struggle for the couple.

“I think what's been interesting is that Teddy — because she's such a kind of powerhouse — I think when she recovers initially, she gets very focused on work again,” he explains. “She's just like, ‘I want to get back. I want to get back to what I was before.’ She becomes very kind of single-minded and driven.”

Related: Grey’s Anatomy: Teddy’s Fate Is Revealed, Meredith Keeps a Secret and the Interns Get a New But Familiar Boss

Kevin McKidd
Kevin McKidd

As for Owen, McKidd says he “goes quite quiet” following his wife’s medical scare, causing “the relationship [to go] through a complication.”

“They keep missing each other, they're kind of disconnected a little bit because Owen's still kind of going through the shock of the trauma of what happened of seeing his wife laying on the floor potentially dead, and they haven't really talked about it," he explains.

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“So I think it can happen in couples quite a lot — if something quite traumatic has happened, you kind of want to move on from it quickly, especially the person that happened to, but then the other person's left with all these feelings,” he adds.

ABC Kim Raver and Kevin McKidd on "Grey's Anatomy"
ABC Kim Raver and Kevin McKidd on "Grey's Anatomy"

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McKidd teases the couple finds a way to reconnect as season 20 progresses after “not quite connecting properly.”

“Eventually towards the end of the season, they had to deal with it and go, ‘Listen, we need to communicate. We need to get back on the same page,’” he shares. “They're kind of growing apart a little bit, living separate lives. And I think it's partly because that's how Teddy's dealing with the trauma of what happened, and then Owen's left going, ‘Where are you? I need to talk about this too. Even though it happened to your body, it happened to us as a couple and we need to communicate.’”

He continues, “It's kind of a cool lesson in traumatic events and how people can kind of shut down a little bit. They're both a little bit in their own worlds.”

Mitch Haaseth/ABC Kevin McKidd on "Grey's Anatomy"
Mitch Haaseth/ABC Kevin McKidd on "Grey's Anatomy"

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The Rome alum shares that Teddy’s life-or-death experience triggers Owen’s PTSD, explaining, “He's a high-functioning person, but that thing never goes away, it doesn't ever get fully healed. So I think that's always there getting ready to kind of rear its head if something big has happened, and this certainly does that for him.”

“It's complicated for Owen. And Teddy, she went through a lot of years of working in war zones as well,” he adds. “So I think they kind of get tough, they have this tough exterior, so they put these walls up, these emotional walls up to deal with it. It's, I think, the way Teddy and Owen tend to cope until they can't do that anymore, they have to bring the walls down and connect.”

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Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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