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Practice makes perfect
Practice makes perfect

Kate Walsh has shared the small screen with some of TV's favourite heart-throbs in recent years - Patrick Dempsey's Dr Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd and Eric Dane's Dr Mark "McSteamy" Sloan in Grey's Anatomy, and, more recently, Taye Diggs as Dr Sam Bennett and Benjamin Bratt as Dr Jake Reilly in Private Practice.

Speaking by phone from Los Angeles as Private Practice was about to wrap its sixth and final season, Walsh, who plays Dr Addison Forbes Montgomery, laughed at the idea her next leading man would have a lot to live up to in the good-looks department.

"Oh my gosh that is hysterical," she said.

"I don't think it is requisite. I always make a joke that wow, I love the Los Angeles Addison Forbes Montgomery lives in because there are all these gorgeous men and they only want her. It was fun; it was a fun way to go to work."

Walsh has transformed before our eyes from the woman viewers loved to hate back in 2005 in the first season of Grey's to the complicated woman we just wanted to find a happily ever after in Private Practice.

The Grey's spin-off launched in 2007 with obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Montgomery moving from Seattle to start a new life and career at a mixed medical practice in Los Angeles.

Walsh decided last year that the sixth season would be her last before it was decided the show created by Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes would also end after six seasons.

"It definitely was bittersweet," Walsh reflected. "I approached it wanting to savour every last second with the cast and crew and writers and producers.

"We are an exceptionally tight crew and cast, we have a reputation for being a notoriously happy and fun set, like nothing else," she said.

"It's just one of those rare things where we just all happened to become really good friends and so that was awesome; it was great to be able to see everyone savour every minute of it."

The storylines of Private Practice have never shied away from visiting dark places - rape, drug addiction, death, disability and assisted suicide.

This season is no different with a major character dying in the season return and later storylines involving paedophilia, kidnapping and the usual complicated mental and psychological health issues of the patients being treated at Seaside Wellness.

So it has been something of a relief for Walsh that the cast have bonded and have fun off screen.

"The storylines are so heavy and intense, so often, even though there is also humour in with it. I think that it's natural we all bring a bit of levity off camera and with each other," she said.

"Everybody on the show is such a great artist and actor, half of them had their own shows before Private Practice - Amy (Brenneman, who plays Violet), Taye (Diggs, who plays Sam) and Tim (Daly, who plays Pete) - so it was just great. They are seasoned professionals and amazing people.

"Paul Adelstein (who plays Cooper) and I have known each other for 20 years. We used to wait tables in Chicago and did theatre workshops together. He is so talented. So are KaDee (Strickland, who plays Charlotte) and Brian (Benben, who plays Sheldon).

"I am pretty certain it will never happen again; never say never but it was an incredible ride."

She has particularly enjoyed working with Bratt since he joined last season, bringing a new energy.

"He is so grounded and solid and centred," she said. "He is still a fantasy man, I think. I mean, all of them are to some extent.

"All of this dillydallying is done, he can sort of match Addison, he can go toe to toe with her, he has this maturity and gravitas to him.

"Plus he's a stone cold fox, so there's that."

Away from the small screen, Walsh is forging ahead with expansion plans for her lifestyle brand, Boyfriend LLC, which has released two fragrances, Boyfriend and Billionaire Boyfriend.

"I didn't do a licensing deal or a royalty deal like most celebs do. I just decided. It was a creative thing, it was driven by story," Walsh explained, adding that she had written, directed and starred in all the brand's web and social media-only commercials.

"We want to expand it internationally but we are a baby brand, a start-up, so it takes a little more time. It is not the typical celebrity model where you have a huge company behind you paying for everything."

Private Practice returns next Monday at 10.45pm on Seven/GWN7.