Grey’s Anatomy has had more than its fair share of behind-the-scenes turmoil over the course of its 10 seasons, and star Ellen Pompeo is finally discussing what really went down with controversial former co-stars Katherine Heigl and Isaiah Washington.
In an new interview with The New York Post, for the first time ever, Ellen breaks her silence on what happened.
“When Katie [Heigl] left, it was tough,”; says Ellen. “You could understand why she wanted to go — when you’re offered $12 million a movie and you’re only 26. But Katie’s problem is that she should not have renewed her contract. She re-upped, took a big raise and then tried to get off the show. And then her movie career did not take off.”;
Ellen also reveals that former co-star Isaiah Washington, who was kicked off the show after an on-set altercation with Patrick Dempsey led him to make derogatory, homophobic comments about co-star T.R. Knight (who subsequently came out of the closet as a result of the incident) was initially intended to be her on-screen love interest.
“[Series creator] Shonda [Rhimes] really wanted to put a black man in the mix,”; says Ellen. “I didn’t think they were really going to put an interracial couple on the show and I didn’t want him. It was too close to home.”; (Ellen’s husband, music producer Chris Ivory, is African-American.)
As a result, Ellen told Shonda that “I wanted that Dempsey kid. I think that once Isaiah did not get the role it backfired.”;
Ellen credits her upbringing for keeping her grounded amidst the craziness that swirled around the show after it became an immediate hit, making the show’s then-unknown cast members instant celebrities. “Hurt feelings, combined with instant success and huge paychecks started things spinning out of control,”; she says. “The crazier things got, as I watched all the tumult with Isaiah and then the Katie thing, I started to focus on the work. Maybe it is my Boston, blue-collar upbringing. I just tried to not pay attention to all the noise around me.”;
Ellen admits that even though she has considered leaving the show that put her on the Hollywood hot list, she always chooses to stay. “Of course I have thought about leaving,”; she says. “It’s always at the end of the season, when you are tired of having no control over your schedule, when you can’t see the forest for the trees, to know how fortunate you are.”;