‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Ellen Pompeo gets brutally honest about ‘toxic’ culture in the beginning
Ellen Pompeo is opening up about the “toxic” culture that plagued the hit ABC series “Grey’s Anatomy” for over a decade.
During a chat with “Empire” star Taraji P. Henson for Variety’s “Actors on Actors,” the actress revealed there were “many moments” she wanted to quit playing Meredith Grey and walk away from the show entirely.
“It’s funny: I never wanted off the bus in the year that I could get off. The first 10 years we had serious culture issues, very bad behavior, really toxic work environment,” Pompeo said, adding that she stayed to provide financially for her children.
Ellen Pompeo says the "turmoil" of the early years working on "Grey's Anatomy" has changed to an experience that makes her proud and happy. (Photo: Jordan Strauss, Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
After dealing with “so much turmoil for 10 years,” Pompeo said she vowed to improve the workplace culture to create “an experience … that I could be happy and proud” of.
“We had some big shifts in front of the camera, behind the camera,” she said. “My mission became, this can’t be fantastic to the public and a disaster behind the scenes. Shonda Rhimes and I decided to rewrite the ending of this story. That’s what’s kept me.”
More challenges ensued when Patrick Dempsey exited the show in 2015, leaving many wondering if “Grey’s” could still be successful without Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd.
“Dempsey left the show in Season 11, and the studio and network believed the show could not go on without the male lead,” Pompeo said. “So I had a mission to prove that it could. I was on a double mission.”
Ellen Pompeo in ABC's 'Grey's Anatomy.' (Photo: Richard Cartwright, ABC)
Pompeo said “we turned the culture around” as the series continues its historic run as prime time’s longest-running medical drama.
“I now have three kids. … I’ve hit some marks that have made me feel accomplished in a different way,” Pompeo said. “Shonda Rhimes has been amazing. She lets us be mothers. I don’t have to travel. I don’t have to go anywhere.”
Pompeo and Henson also talked about pay disparity, where the “Grey’s” veteran revealed that Dempsey “was being paid almost double what I was in the beginning.”
“I had never done TV, so I didn’t have a TV quote. … But I didn’t realize that until we were negotiating Season 3.”
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