'Grey's Anatomy's Jake Borelli Previews 'Shifts' at Grey Sloan Memorial in Season 16

Meredith Jacobs
Q&A ABC/Mitch Haaseth

One of the Grey's Anatomy characters who has grown the most since we first met him is Dr. Levi Schmitt, and while things were looking up for him and Nico (Alex Landi) at the end of Season 15, don't assume anything about what's to come.

"He's pretty set right now in his relationship, but Shondaland always stirs things up," Jake Borelli told TV Insider. "You'll have to tune in to Episode 1 this year and see where we're actually at."

Here, the actor previews what to expect for his character, romance, and the hospital in Season 16, especially after those crazy cliffhangers in May.

Levi has really grown a lot since we met him and come into his own both professionally and personally. What has that journey been like for you? When you first joined the show, did you think he'd end up where he is?

Jake Borelli: I had no inkling when I first booked the show what was about to happen to me and Levi. There's been quite a parallel within my own life and his life. He's grown a lot professionally and personally, and so have I. The show has changed my life career-wise and also coming out alongside Levi has shifted my life in a better way than I ever could have dreamed it could.

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Do you think Levi would've come out if he hadn't started working at the hospital with that environment?

Meeting Nico made him realize things about himself that he knew deep down but didn't have the courage to express or the language to articulate. Meeting Nico and being surrounded with the people at the hospital really helped him to realize his own story and to give him the courage to open up and step into his own authenticity.

How are things going at the hospital this season?

We're picking up right where we left off, so there were some pretty intense cliffhangers and a lot of shifts in terms of some of the major doctors getting fired from the hospital, so right now, we're reeling from that and trying to figure out where the hospital can go from there.

(ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

How's it going for Levi? Does he feel like Meredith, Alex, and Richard are going to come back, this isn't going to be permanent?

I'm just excited to see how things affect Levi. He's at the bottom of the barrel still, and these are his mentors, so things are certainly shifting.

Who will we see him working with? Are we going to see more with Owen after the end of last season?

Those were fun. I think coming back as a series regular this year gives me the opportunity and the time to have a lot more scenes with the other doctors and more in-depth relationships between Levi and [them].

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Levi introduced Nico to his mother at the end of last season, which is a big step, but they're still figuring things out. What have you enjoyed most about that relationship?

The thing that I have taken away most from the relationship is the courage that Levi's been showing. He's always been a very emotionally intelligent character, but him stepping into his truth and coming out of the closet and coming out to his mother and really standing up for himself when it comes to Nico, and Nico's doubts about him and his willingness to accept his sexuality have given Levi the ability to show how brave [he] has been in the rocky coming out process.

Are they in a good place when the season begins?

Yeah. At the end of Season 15, we made up from the little fight we had that came on the tail of Nico [accidentally] killing a patient and him not being able to articulate his emotions very well. Levi's really shown him how to embrace a more emotional side. They've stepped into Season 16 on a good foot, but if there's one thing we've learned about Shondaland, it's that relationships go through ups and downs.

(ABC/Scott Everett White)

Where do you think Levi wants to be in five years, in his professional and personal lives?

He wants to stay at the hospital. He's lived his whole life in Seattle with his mom, so I can't imagine he'd want to leave anytime soon. I hope to see him climb the ranks in the hospital and specialize in a field that he really enjoys. I just want him to learn as much as he possibly can. On a personal level, he's taken some major steps this past year, and I just hope that things work out for him.

We saw Levi interacting with the Station 19 characters a bit at the end of last year, and we know there's going to be more of a crossover going forward. What have you enjoyed the most about those crossovers and will we be seeing more of him with those characters?

I love going over to Station 19. They're amazing over there. I was lucky enough to work with Barrett [Doss] with the flower scenes and the passing of her partner. We had a really good time working together. I would love to go back over there. We're all super excited to get to play in the same universe now. The hospital and the fire station are just a block away from each other, so it's inevitable that there would be crossover storylines and crossover characters.

We saw Ben change careers and become a firefighter. Do you think that's something Levi would ever consider?

Maybe, I don't know. Levi's a little in his head and he's fumbly and kind of klutzy, so I don't know if being a firefighter would be the best job for him, but who knows? He's changed a lot in the past year, and I only see him growing from here. ... I'd rather see him become a hero in the medical field and become a badass surgeon, but the sky's the limit for Levi.

What else can we look forward to seeing from Levi and in this season in general?

He's going to learn a lot more about himself and about being a surgeon. I just hope he steps into his shoes a little bit stronger this year.

Grey's Anatomy, Season 16 Premiere, Thursday, September 26, 8/7c, ABC