Washington: American actor Ellen Pompeo, who plays Meredith Grey in the ABC drama ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, is going to star in the 16th season of the show and has already been signed for the 17th season, but there were times when she felt like leaving the series.
“There were many moments,” she told Taraji P. Henson about wanting to quit the show over the years, reported E! News.
“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. But once I started having kids, it became no longer about me. I need to provide for my family,” she added.
Pompeo continued in her conversation with Henson, “At 40 years old, where am I ever going to get this kind of money? I need to take care of my kids. But after Season 10, we had some big shifts in front of the camera, behind the camera. It became my goal to have an experience there that I could be happy and proud about because we had so much turmoil for 10 years.”
She also opened up about what really kept her going even she felt like quitting.
“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,” she said.
For the first 11 seasons of the show, actor Patrick Dempsey played Derek Shepherd on the series.
Stressing upon the fact that the show can go on even without Dempsey, who was the male lead of the drama, she said, “Patrick Dempsey left the show in season 11, and the studio and network believed the show could not go on without the male lead. So I had a mission to prove that it could. I was on a double mission.”
Pompeo also spoke about the challenges of making sure that she gets paid what she deserves.
Pompeo said Dempsey was getting paid double of what she was because he had a “television quote” and she had never done TV before.
“I didn’t even realize until we were renegotiating season 3. No one was offering that up,” she said.
Pompeo said she was ready to speak up and to walk away if necessary. “You can know your worth, but if they don’t know it, you can’t cry,” she said.
Pompeo also admitted that she hasn’t “been challenged creatively at all” on the show so she has tried to focus on the achievements behind the camera.
“I haven’t been challenged creatively at all. Every once in a while we do an amazing storyline. But for the last five years, I’ve had other milestones that we were trying to achieve behind the camera,” Pompeo said.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Pompeo revealed that she had once asked for USD 5,000 more than Dempsey “just on principle.”
“They wouldn’t give it to me and I could have walked away, so why didn’t I? It’s my show; I’m 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’,” she said at that time.
In 2018, Pompeo extended her show contract and added producing roles on both ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and its spinoff ‘Station 19’.