The untold truth of Justin Chambers

Thanks to his role on Grey's Anatomy, Justin Chambers is instantly recognizable. The Shondaland stalwart first appeared on the popular medical drama when it premiered back in 2005, and he's appeared in every season since, which is more than a little impressive. "I don't remember life before this show, it's been so many years," Chambers quipped to Seattle Refined in 2017. "It's a great blessing, get to work with the people I want to work with get to play a character that's fun and pay the bills, can't ask for anything more ... Why not just keep riding until people don't want it?"

That's a fair point, and we couldn't be happier for Chambers' success. But fans might be less aware of what this private actor gets up to when he's not playing Dr. Alex Karev in the hit ABC series. In fact, from beginning his showbiz career after being discovered in a very surprising place to being a dedicated family man when he's not appearing on TV, there's a lot that you might not know about him. This is the untold truth of one of Grey's Anatomy's most important actors.

Justin Chambers has been married since 1993

The character Justin Chambers plays on Grey's Anatomy may be a major player, but in real life, the actor has been married for over 25 years. Chambers met his wife, Keisha, at a modeling agency where she was a model booker (naturally, he was one of said models). Considering the brutal breakups that tend to take place for those who work in a crazy industry like Hollywood, Chambers knows just how lucky he is to still be happily married. 

"We've been together for so long that I really don't know any other way to be," the actor told Good Housekeeping in 2007, adding, "Every relationship has its ups and downs, but I'm glad I get to go through the ups and downs with her. I just feel really fortunate to have found someone who will be my partner on this journey."

Chambers' home life couldn't be more different from that of Dr. Alex Karev. For one, he and Keisha have five children together. As he told Good Housekeeping, "I just feel really fortunate to have found someone who will be my partner on this journey." Chambers later explained to People that Keisha was also a huge support to him throughout any health challenges he's faced: "She's very stoic and calm. I always say she should be sainted. She ain't a wimp, though! She's tough as nails." She sure sounds like a keeper to us!

His family is practically the Brady Bunch

With five kiddos running around, Justin and Keisha Chambers' house is always extremely busy. "We didn't plan on having such a big family," the actor explained to Good Housekeeping, "but after our first daughter, we had twins, so it sort of jumped from one to three right away." Keisha and Justin have four daughters — Isabella, twins Maya and Kaila, and Eva — and one son called Jackson. While the couple's oldest child, Isabella, was born in 1994, their youngest, Jackson, arrived in 2002. When asked what his children think of him appearing on Grey's Anatomy, Chambers joked to E! News, "They're very happy for ... hey, I'm paying for college."

As for what it's like living with such a big family, Chambers told Good Housekeeping, "Well, our house is sort of like a nightclub: We've got loud music and chaos and crowds. But really, we're pretty laid-back. Our kids are in a little band, and they like to play video games, and my wife and I do our best to live a low-key, non-Hollywood kind of life." The proud dad later told People, "I love my kids. I don't know what I would do without them. The joy of having them is incredible." 

Chambers couldn't sound more grounded, and his idyllic family life seems pretty much perfect.

Justin Chambers' daughter is in a band

Justin Chambers isn't the only artistic member of his large family. While none of his children appear to have caught the acting bug just yet, one of his daughters is a musician in an up-and-coming band. Eva Chambers plays bass in Pinky Pinky, which i-D described as a "California three-piece" with a "hard-pounding sound and DIY attitude." After releasing two EPs, Pinky Pinky and Hot Tears, the trio dropped their debut album, Turkey Dinner, in June 2019.

Eva spoke to i-D about becoming a professional musician, revealing, "When I moved to L.A., my sisters and I started a band and I played the keyboard. From there, I decided to teach myself every other instrument." She also made it clear that she takes her music career very seriously: "We work very hard on our music and put our souls into it." In an endlessly adorably Instagram post, proud dad Justin celebrated Pinky Pinky's album release, writing in part, "So proud of my daughter and her bandmates."

Forget Dr. Karev ... he's Dr. Dolittle

Justin Chambers might already have his hands full with five kids, but the actor is also a lover of animals. According to Just Jared, his family-of-seven was spotted adopting a dog from a pet adoption stand back in 2007, with the children excitedly arguing over who would walk the pup home. In an interview with Good Housekeeping that same year, Chambers revealed, "We just got two rescue dogs. Of course, we got two, and not one. I guess we can't do anything in moderation — but they're little dogs, so it's like they add up to one regular-size dog." 

The actor went on to say, "I strongly believe people should rescue dogs." Chambers is also big on publicly discussing (and playfully teasing) the family's pups: an "old beagle named D'Artagnan"(whom he once joked "needs to join Jenny Craig" on Twitter) and a pitbull called Zook

Clearly, the Chambers family has a lot of love for their canine members, as the Observer reported in 2016 they'd extended their clan once more and had three dogs.

Just call him Zoolander

Before his career-making role on Grey's Anatomy, Justin Chambers was a model working with high-profile brands, such as Armani and Calvin Klein. Per his IMDb page, Chambers was "discovered by a modeling scout in a Paris Metro station," and went on to have a successful career throughout Europe, Japan, and the United States. In December 2018, the model-turned-actor shared a vintage photo of himself on Instagram posing in front of a Calvin Klein billboard campaign of which he was the star, proving that he found much success during his modeling days. 

Chambers might be better known for his acting prowess these days, but he happily joked about his prior career as a model during a 2006 interview with East Bay Times. "I don't look like a model in real life," he said. "I'd go in for shoots and they thought I was the delivery boy — (but) I pulled it off for a while." Chambers has clearly remained modest about the beginnings of his showbiz career, but it's clear that his charisma, talent, and boyish good looks are what got him his start in Tinseltown.

Justin Chambers has a biological sleep disorder

In 2008, Justin Chambers sought help for a sleep deprivation disorder he'd been experiencing — and found himself unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight when none other than Britney Spears checked into the same hospital. According to People, "word of his hospitalization leaked to the press" when the pop star arrived at Resnick Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital at UCLA, and members of the media followed. Chambers opened up to to the magazine about his stay at the hospital, explaining, "I suffer from a biological sleep disorder. Your body is tired but your mind keeps racing. You lie down and then you get up and pace, and then you lie down but you can't fall asleep." In fact, the disorder got so bad that the actor "went a good two months without really sleeping," which sounds like a total nightmare.

The Grey's Anatomy star believed that acting was partially responsible for the condition. "I'm a sponge; I process everything around me," he told People. "Some roles require you to dig deep, and, you know, be careful what you find." Chambers went on to reference his role in 2006's The Zodiac as being especially difficult to process. With rumors that he'd been in rehab for substance abuse quickly proven false, the actor added, "I don't need people speculating about issues I'm dealing with."

Considering Chambers was managing to have around one hour of sleep a week before checking in, it's a relief that he got the help he needed.

He nearly missed out on Grey's Anatomy

At the time of this writing, Justin Chambers is one of only four actors to have been on Grey's Anatomy since it premiered back in 2005, but that almost wasn't the case. During a 2008 Q&A with the cast at the Paley Center, the TV star revealed, "They shot the pilot before I came on ... So, the character wasn't even created yet." Basically, the pilot episode was ready to go, but something was missing. "They had sent the pilot to New York where I live, and I saw it and loved it," Chambers continued. "And I went out to LA to try to win the part and auditioned and got the role." 

And the rest, as they say, is history — well, sort of. Chambers was flown in to record his scenes, and clearly made a good impression considering the longevity of his on-screen run. But according to Business Insider, "He had to be digitally added into the [already-shot pilot] episode ... a detail hard to ignore after seeing it. Apparently, the writers realized they wanted a male who could play the opposite of George O'Malley." 

Of course, the higher-ups behind this Shondaland series made the right decision. Other Grey's Anatomy cast members have come and gone in the intervening years, but in playing fan-favorite Dr. Alex Karev, Chambers has helped to develop one of television's most lovable, former bad boy characters ever.

Justin Chambers wears sunglasses to work

If you always thought that Justin Chambers was cool, then it turns out you were correct — at least according to his Grey's Anatomy co-star, Camilla Luddington, who plays his onscreen love interest, Dr. Jo Wilson. In an interview with Cosmopolitan, she revealed, "I almost feel like he's got a Johnny Depp vibe. Super cool. Like, [he] will come to the table read, and he's in his hat and his cool sunglasses. If I did that, I would probably look douchey, but he can pull it off. He just makes everything look cool." While we never had any doubt about Chambers' general level of coolness, it's pretty amusing to hear that he's known to wear shades even when he's indoors and at work.

In the same interview, Luddington confirmed that Chambers is also as funny in real life as he is on the show, but given his amazing comic timing, this is hardly surprising. "Justin is absolutely hysterical," she said, adding, "I don't think he realizes he's being funny half the time." 

He has some thoughts about a potential Grey's Anatomy hookup

It seems that most Grey's Anatomy characters have hooked up at one time or another. Even though Justin Chambers' character is currently married to Dr. Jo Wilson, he's not opposed to the idea of Dr. Alex Karev getting together with the show's lead, Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo). Sure, die-hard Shondaland fans are most likely on the fence about whether these two would make a good on-screen couple, but Chambers has already considered the possibility of things getting romantic between them. "But hey, who knows?" he said to Entertainment Tonight in 2017. "Nobody knows how things go, you know?" 

We suppose that's a fair point. But since Alex is already married, it seems that Meredith will remain just a friend to Chambers' on-screen alter ego — at least for now. "I'm very comfortable with them being platonic — like brother and sister, and friends," the actor explained. "I think that suits them better." However, as Chambers went on to note, "I was friends with my wife before we started dating." Seeing as Alex and Meredith have been close since day one of the series, it seems as though we can't truly rule this pairing one out until the show finally wraps.

This actor has had some surprising roles

Justin Chambers has been a mainstay on primetime television for well over a decade, becoming so synonymous with Dr. Alex Karev that you've probably forgotten about his pre-Grey's Anatomy career, which boasted some pretty surprising roles. To start, the actor co-starred in the classic Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy, The Wedding Planner, back in 2001. Chambers actually played an important role in the flick, with his admittedly adorable character, Massimo, very nearly tying the knot with Lopez's Mary. However, fans will remember that Mary falls in love with one of her clients, Matthew McConaughey's Steve Edison, which is ultimately bad news for our guy.

Chambers' surprising on-screen appearances didn't stop once he landed Grey's Anatomy, however. In 2009, he popped up in an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. "Took a break from scalpels, and now I got a paint brush," he quipped to host Ty Pennington, before discussing why he wanted to help out on this particular renovation. "This is a family that's dedicated their lives to helping exotic animals, and giving them shelter and TLC, so you guys are giving back to them. So, I thought I'd like to get involved."

Did you know Justin Chambers has a twin brother?

A lot of people might not realize that Justin Chambers has a fraternal twin named Jason (via Refinery29). According to Rotten Tomatoes, "Justin Chambers began life on a difficult course; along with his fraternal twin brother, he reportedly battled multiple bouts of pneumonia, which forced the two boys to spend lengthy periods of time in oxygen tents." Thankfully, the twins appear to have made a good recovery from their reported childhood illnesses. And while photos of the brothers together are scarce, it's undeniable that they look a lot alike.

Back in 2001, the future Grey's Anatomy star told the New York Post that he had no interest in becoming a leading man in Hollywood, as he's much more focused on his family — including working with Jason. "I would like to be able to have the choice in this business to be able to walk away from it saying, 'OK, I had some success,'" Justin explained. "I am working on a furniture business with my brother Jason, who is moving down to Miami." 

Basically, Justin Chambers is adorable, talented, and charismatic both on screen and off. While Dr. Alex Karev has softened around the edges throughout the actor's Shondaland tenure, one thing's remained the same for the actor himself: There seems to be nothing more important than family to this TV star.