The behind-the-scenes drama of Grey’s Anatomy has always been interesting. In recent years, though, it’s almost eclipsed what’s going on with the show. The sudden departure of Patrick Dempsey and the death of his character, Derek Shepard, wasn’t something was fans were expecting. Neither was the exit of his “replacement,” Martin Henderson as Meredith’s new love Nathan.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the leading lady of Grey’s Anatomy, Ellen Pompeo, opened up about these developments, plus her struggles to get the pay and respect she deserves. The actress who brings Meredith Grey to life didn’t hold back, in the slightest.
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While Meredith and Derek had one of the most desirable and harmonious relationships on TV, the working relationship between Pompeo and Dempsey wasn’t as easy. Although Pompeo never personally attacks Dempsey in the THR interview, she does detail a rocky connection.
Evidently Dempsey made it hard for Pompeo to be paid what she deserved. Since Dempsey was the “bigger star,” Pompeo always felt lesser to him, even though her character gives the show its name.
“For me, Patrick [Dempsey] leaving the show [in 2015] was a defining moment, deal-wise. They could always use him as leverage against me — ‘We don’t need you; we have Patrick’ — which they did for years,” Pompeo said. “I don’t know if they also did that to him, because he and I never discussed our deals. There were many times where I reached out about joining together to negotiate, but he was never interested in that. At one point, I asked for $5,000 more than him just on principle, because the show is Grey’s Anatomy and I’m Meredith Grey. They wouldn’t give it to me. And I could have walked away, so why didn’t I? It’s my show; I’m the number one. I’m sure I felt what a lot of these other actresses feel: Why should I walk away from a great part because of a guy? You feel conflicted but then you figure, ‘I’m not going to let a guy drive me out of my own house.'”
Pompeo did admit that when Grey’s Anatomy had a ratings spike after Dempsey left the show, she did “have a good chuckle.” However, she still wanted to respect the character, the actor and most importantly, give herself sometime to decompress after Derek’s death. In her mind, Meredith should been given time to grieve and be on her own. The show had other ideas and Martin Henderson was brought in to play Meredith’s new love interest, which Pompeo didn’t appreciate.
“I was on vacation in Sicily, decompressing — it was a long working relationship and it was a tumultuous end and I needed a moment to just chill with some rose,” Pompeo recalled of the period of time after Dempsey’s exit and before Henderson’s casting. “And they’re calling me, going, ‘What do you think of this guy?’ ‘What do you think of this guy?’ And they’re sending pictures. I was like, “Are you people [expletive] nuts? Why do you feel that you have to replace this person?’ I couldn’t believe how fast the studio and the network felt like they had to get a penis in there.”
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Pompeo explains that “they” ended up not loving the storyline with Henderson’s character, Nathan, so the actor left the show, shortly after joining. It’s a situation that Pompeo has no problem dealing with though, as it’s clear she didn’t think it was right for Meredith to move on so quickly in the first place.
This version of Nathan’s exit is a bit different from what Henderson said at the time the story was playing out on the show. The actor explained that Nathan ending up with his ex, Abigail, and not Meredith was “the right thing to do.” It’s where the story was always heading.
Following the exits of Henderson and Dempsey though, Pompeo feels much more powerful on the show. It’s a confidence that she didn’t have earlier in the series, where she was always afraid to ask for more money or demand the same control as her male co-stars.
However, being partially inspired by Shonda Rhimes, things have changed. Pompeo has one of the most lucrative deals in TV for an actress and she’s moved into directing, being behind a few Grey’s Anatomy episodes.
Pompeo feels there is an imbalance in the world between men and women, but slowly things are changing and for her part, Pompeo feels better than ever. “I don’t believe the only solution is more women in power, because power corrupts,” Pompeo explained. “It’s not necessarily a man or a woman thing. But there should be more of us women in power, and not just on Shonda Rhimes’ sets.”
Are you surprised by the details of Dempsey and Henderson’s exits? Do you think Grey’s Anatomy could’ve ever continue without Meredith Grey? Should Meredith have been given more time as a widow? Tell us what you think in the comments!
Grey’s Anatomy returns with a new episode on Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 8/7c. Want more news? Visit our Grey’s Anatomy page on Facebook.
(Image courtesy of ABC)