Ellen Pompeo has starred on “Grey’s Anatomy” for an impressive 15 seasons and now she’s telling fellow actress Taraji P. Henson all about it.
The two TV stars feature in the new episode of Variety‘s “Actors on Actors”, with Henson taking the reins to interview Pompeo about her career.
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“I think the thing that stood out to me the most about her was that she was the lead character,” Pompeo tells Henson of her character, Meredith Grey. “Before then, I had been in a bunch of movies but just as the girlfriend or the wife. I had never been presented with a lead character before and I thought, Oh, wow she has a real job, she’s a doctor, and she’s the lead of the show. That was something I hadn’t seen before.”
The 15 seasons on the show haven’t always been easy, though.
“There were many moments when I wanted off the bus. It’s funny how it works — I never wanted off the bus in a year I could get off the bus,” Pompeo reveals. “It sort of lined up in years, and, you know, we had a serious serious culture problem on ‘Grey’s’ for a good number of years — I’d say the first 10 years.”
“We had serious, serious culture issues. Very bad behaviour, really toxic work environment and I had my daughter season 6 and I think that’s when things really started to change for me because I had someone other than myself to think about.”
As for how long she’ll continue with “Grey’s Anatomy”, Pompeo says, “You know I have one more season on my contract and I will do season 16 and I know that. And I’m contracted to do that. And that’s all we know.”
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In the interview, Henson also shares her first reaction to her character Cookie on “Empire”.
“She scared me,” Henson admits. “She popped off the page and I was afraid because I thought, Oh the NAACP, they’re gonna get me for this one. She calls one son who’s gay the F-bomb, and she beats one son with a broom — this is something that had never been shown on national television and certainly not by a black woman.
“When you’re a person of colour, you have to be careful about the roles you pick because you want to uplift the people and represent, but I’m also an actress to the bone and I don’t judge. And just like it may be uncomfortable to play characters like this, they’re needed. Someone out there will identify with this person and maybe learn something — maybe learn to be a better person. Once I got past the fear I was able to see her and really see her.”
After fans began reacting to Pompeo’s words about a “serious culture problem” on the set of “Grey’s Anatomy,” characterized by “bad behaviour” and a “really toxic work environment,” she took to Twitter to remind everyone that “we changed that story.”