The Grey’s Anatomy star, who’s not afraid to talk equal pay or race, talked about how her long-running ABC show, which she has been on for 15 years, has changed in recent years. She made it very, very clear that it’s a better place to work now than it was in the beginning.
Asked if there were times she wanted to quit, Pompeo replied, “There were many moments. 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.”
However, “At 40 years old, where am I ever going to get this kind of money?” she continued. “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. My mission became, this can’t be fantastic to the public and a disaster behind the scenes.”
She said she and creator Shonda Rhimes “decided to rewrite the ending of this story.” They have since “turned the culture around.” And “that’s what’s kept me,” she continued. “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 went on to talk more about Dempsey, whom she has said she hasn’t talked to since he left the show in 2015. She spoke of their pay disparity when they started the show — with the Can’t Buy Me Love actor making double what she made as a TV newcomer — and mentioned how while he was the bigger name, his previous TV projects had failed.
“‘He’s done 13 pilots,’” she recalled being told. “Well, none of them have gone [to series],” she said. At that point, Henson burst into laughter and Pompeo giggled too. “I didn’t even realize until we were renegotiating Season 3. No one was offering that up.”
During the first two seasons of #GreysAnatomy, Patrick Dempsey made almost double what Ellen Pompeo did: "I didn't even realize that until we were renegotiating season 3" Full video: https://t.co/mckOLjWAzV pic.twitter.com/trR4YhjOHm— Variety (@Variety) June 5, 2019
Pompeo ultimately demanded a salary she thought was fair — and was willing to risk losing the job over it, she said. The end result, of course, was her $20 million paychecks, which she has spoken openly about.
The actress’s unfiltered views have ruffled feathers in the past — and these new comments are no different. Saying that the show had “serious culture issues,” “bad behavior” and was a “really toxic work environment” until the very year Dempsey’s character was killed off isn’t sitting right with many.
Some of the reactions claim she’s “bashing Dempsey” and “holding grudges”:
ellen pompeo’s still bashing patrick dempsey in 2019 who’s surprised— kayla ♡ (@japrilsdelenas) June 5, 2019
@EllenPompeo isn’t it about time you move on. Life is so much better if you grow up, stop being problematic and stop holding grudges. I thought drama was supposed to stop after middle school maybe high school.🙄🙄 https://t.co/6ubSMtHWzH— g✨ (@pattydmmpsey) June 5, 2019
You know what's truly remarkable? The fact that Ellen Pompeo takes each and every opportunity to make a disparaging remark about Patrick Dempsey. How many times does it have to be explained to her why he was being paid more for the first three seasons? Is she thick? #GreysAnatomy pic.twitter.com/WuWZXBtrYh— MJ (@MJ_JustSayin) June 5, 2019
So what if he had 13 pilots that were never picked up? She has a long list of failures in her Tickle Trunk too. It seems that she's forgotten them now that she's TV's $20 million woman. She just keeps going in circles with this conversation and it's NOT productive. #GreysAnatomy pic.twitter.com/UmfoTt2tAK— MJ (@MJ_JustSayin) June 5, 2019
Patrick Dempsey left “Greys” like 5/6 years ago an I don’t think he’s ever said one bad thing about the show or Ellen....— ScarletVision (@OMGLEZY) June 5, 2019
who’s going to tell Ellen Pompeo that a lot of people stopped watching greys after both Patrick and Sandra left....— nats 🌹 (@polaroidsofyou) June 5, 2019
I just... Ellen Pompeo thinks she has a career outside of Grey’s? Sis, sorry to break the news but you have no name brand, other than being associated with that expired dumpster-fire of a show. Patrick “been around since the 80s and starred in notable films” would like a word.— Jo — 𝕚 𝕝𝕠𝕧𝕖 𝕪𝕠𝕦 𝟛𝟘𝟘𝟘 (@elizabthturner) June 5, 2019
Ellen Pompeo would definitely be jobless after Grey's unlike Patrick. Who got paid more not because he's a male. Because he had a name and he was WAY more experienced— yeeah (@GooseMocha) June 5, 2019
Others tried to recenter the conversation to Pompeo’s point about equal pay.
No matter what Patrick Damsey fan say ( no offence he is a great actor) Ellen pompeo proved that a woman has the power pursue things that they truly deserve.— Isabella Adams (@HereisIsbell) June 5, 2019
She wasn't trying to throw shade at Patrick. All she was saying is how much more he was getting paid than her so don't get all offended and tagging her in crap. She doesn't have anything against Patrick.— Emily Bates ♡ (@SimplyEmily29) June 5, 2019
Grey’s Anatomy wrapped is 15th season last month. For the second year in a row, it was ABC’s No. 1 series. It was recently renewed for two more seasons.
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