By Joseph Kapsch
Ellen Pompeo has finally broken her silence on the headline-making drama behind-the-scenes with former “Grey’s Anatomy” co-stars Katherine Heigl and Isaiah Washington that plagued the hit ABC series earlier in its run.
The actress didn’t mince words over Heigl’s controversial 2010 departure from the series.
“When Katie left, it was tough,” Pompeo told The New York Post. “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.”
In the profile, which marked the show’s 200th episode milestone, Pompeo also discussed objecting to her titular character, Meredith Grey, being potentially paired on-screen with fired co-star Isaiah Washington.
“You know they wanted Isaiah Washington to be my boyfriend. [Producer Shonda Rhimes] 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,” Pompeo said.
The actress felt the storyline too closely resembled her personal life. Pompeo is married to African-American music industry veteran Chris Ivery.
“It was too close to home … I said I wanted that Dempsey kid. I think that once Isaiah did not get the role it backfired,” she said.
Washington’s ouster from the ABC series followed a heated on-set confrontation where he directed a homosexual slur at co-star T.R. Knight, and a subsequent incident in which Washington dropped an f-bomb backstage at the 2007 Golden Globe Awards after “Grey’s” won best drama series.
Of the show’s backstage turmoil, Pompeo said: “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.