Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo said that the ABC drama had “so much turmoil for 10 years” and that she and creator/executive producer Shonda Rhimes made it their “mission” to “rewrite the ending of this story,” according to Variety.
“After Season 10, we had some big shifts in front of the camera, behind the camera,” Pompeo said as part of Variety’s Actors on Actors series. “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. Shonda Rhimes and I decided to rewrite the ending of this story. That’s what’s kept me. 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, who chatted with Empire’s Taraji P. Henson, also candidly admitted that she hasn’t “been challenged creatively at all” on the ABC drama so she has tried to focus on the achievements behind the camera. The drama has an impressive stable of female directors, which include Pompeo. “The first 10 years we had serious culture issues, very bad behavior, really toxic work environment,” she said. “But once I started having kids, it became no longer about me. I need to provide for my family.”
Now the highest-paid woman in dramatic television, Pompeo also talked about the challenges of making sure she gets paid her worth. When she first started on the series opposite Patrick Dempsey, he made twice as much of her because he was the more established actor, she admitted.
“My husband says, “Closed mouths don’t get fed,” Pompeo said. “But if you have to walk, don’t be a victim. If you don’t get what you want, put your big-girl panties on …”
“And bounce,” Henson responded.
“You can know your worth, but if they don’t know it, you can’t cry.”
Actors on Actors will air on PBS June 18th and 20th.