Ellen Pompeo Speaks Out on Katherine Heigl Exit


Grey’s Anatomy is about to ring in 200 episodes, and there’s no end in sight, even as multiple co-stars have exited the show (and Sandra Oh‘s impending exit at the end of this season).  But don’t worry, Meredith Grey herself Ellen Pompeo has no plans on going anywhere.  She knows to appreciate when you’ve got it good, telling the New York Post:

“Actors always think the grass is greener somewhere else. I didn’t want to do that.  I have an amazing life. I have a house five minutes from the studio, I have a house in the Hamptons, a house in Malibu, a beautiful daughter whom I see every night, and it’s all because I didn’t leave Grey’s Anatomy.

How refreshing to hear an actor realize how plum their job is.  For an actor to get this kind of steady work, and (I’m sure) making the money that Ellen is making at this point, is a rare thing. So why not hold onto it for as long as possible?  Her onscreen love, Patrick Dempsey, has the same perspective, saying “Of course I have thought about leaving. 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.”

heiglIt’s a fortune that one of their former co-stars Katherine Heigl didn’t appreciate.  Heigl had a tumultuous relationship with the show, like publicly calling out the writers for not giving her Emmy-worthy material the year after she (shockingly) won the award, and complaining on talk shows about the long working hours.  She then had a blossoming film career after hits Knocked Up and 27 Dresses.

It was a difficult time on-set, and Pompeo has never spoken out about that time, but now she says, “When Katie left, it was tough. 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 [with the show]. She re-upped, took a big raise and then tried to get off the show. And then her movie career did not take off.”

Now, Heigl’s career is all but dead as Grey’s creator Shonda Rhimes shut down Katherine’s interest in returning to the show.  Katherine is now trying to produce her own TV comeback with a new show for NBC.

Also having a very public exit from the show was Isaiah Washington, who was fired for making homophobic slurs towards co-star T.R. Knight. Pompeo says of that time, “hurt feelings, combined with instant success and huge paychecks started things spinning out of control.  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.”

Adding that Isaiah was originally brought on for another role: “They wanted Isaiah Washington to be [Dr. Derek Shepherd, Dempsey’s character].  Shonda really wanted to put a black man in the mix. 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.”

Pompeo is married to Chris Ivery, an African-American music producer.

“I said I wanted that Dempsey kid. I think that once Isaiah did not get the role it backfired.”

But now the drama seems to have gotten past its internal turmoil and Pompeo is ready to ride the train for as long as it goes.

What do you think of Pompeo’s comments?




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