Ellen Pompeo got candid in a new interview about Patrick Dempsey‘s season 11 exit and how it affected Grey’s Anatomy and her role.


Pompeo noted how the show handled negotiations with her. While she never shared a meeting with Dempsey, the network would always use his presence as leverage against her. “They could always use him as leverage against me — ‘We don’t need you; we have Patrick’ —which they did for years,” she explained. “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,'” she added.

Pompeo eventually did get that raise in season 14, but it took a few years to work out. The actress recently signed a new deal, which guarantees her at the forefront of the show for at least two more years. This means through Grey’s‘ 16th season, even though ABC has yet to renew the Shonda Rhimes series. This deal makes it so that Pompeo will net $20 million a year, making her the highest paid TV drama actress.

This change, however, took three years to come up with since Dempsey was killed off in season 11. And unlike from deals and pay raises, a replacement for Dempsey was immediate. “So, what does it look like when he leaves the show? First, it looks like a ratings spike, and I had a nice chuckle about that,” Pompeo begins. “But the truth is, the ink wasn’t even dry on his exit papers before they rushed in a new guy. 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 rosé—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 f–king nuts? Why do you feel that you have to replace this person?’ the actress shared.

“I couldn’t believe how fast the studio and the network felt like they had to get a penis in there,” she added. “We brought in Martin Henderson, but they didn’t love the storyline, so that ended.” Henderson played Nathan Riggs, one of Meredith Grey’s love interests, but he eventually left the show in season 14.

Rhimes complimented Pompeo on her article and tweeted, “Everybody needs to read THIS article. @EllenPompeo is a brilliant badass.” The actress thanked her back in turn, saying “Game recognize Game.”

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