Ellen Pompeo looks back at using Patrick Dempsey’s departure from the show as negotiating everything she deserved as its lead.
On Monday, Ellen opened up to Dax Shephard and talks about her show on ‘Armchair Expert’ podcast. In the episode of August 24, she says Patrick left in season 11 and she was renegotiating in season 12 so that she could leave. But she did not want it to come out as “the man left” so she is leaving too.
Ellen has been playing Dr. Meredith Grey on Grey’s Anatomy since 2005. She decided to bet on herself after her costar walked away from the show. Patrick also played Dr. Derek Shepherd since 2005 and left the show in the show’s 11th season.
Ellen opened up saying people had put it in her head that she was no good without Patrick. She says she had to rewrite the script, rewrite the end of the story, and had to think who is right. The actress wanted to prove that she is good even without him. Pompeo said, “I had to take over that script and rewrite that story and prove to myself that they were wrong.”
The actress has previously been open about the battle she had to fight to bridge the pay gap for women in Hollywood. She had admitted back then that Patrick leaving the show was exactly what she needed to move forward.
Ellen told Dax that she felt so beat down and she says she was meant to feel like they could do it without her. She said, “Patrick Dempsey leaving the show was that for me. I was like, oh, I have a window here, now how are they going to tell me they don’t need me.”
” I Thought This Show’s a Monster”
The actress recalled thinking that they don’t have Patrick, so they cannot use him against her. When she first negotiated her contract — after six years on the drama. She just had her first child at the time.
She said she was terrified at the time and was super typecast on the show. The actress recalls the show was a monster and she was 39, so she thought she will never work again. Because of which she thought that she would stay there. At this point, Ellen is one of the many actresses who are doing it themselves in the industry.
“There are so many actresses that have found a way to be entrepreneurs and I think it’s so inspiring,” Pompeo added. The actress signed a deal earn $575,000 per episode, amounting more than $20 million a year while her negotiations for seasons 15 and 16.
She said they did not expect the article to be what it was which was interesting. Ellen revealed that she has negotiated several times on Grey’s obviously now. She explained, “Like I say in the article, the only real power you ever have is if you’re truly, willing to walk away.”
The actress further added, “You have to get to the point where you have to do something several times before it’s the only way you learn. You have to do it yourself before you really learn the lessons.”
Ellen said she is not going to go on forever on the show but she clarified she is happy on set at the moment. She also said there is another element to staying at a job for a long time. The actress said that she had to make sure she is not boring. She explained, “You have to make sure you’re not phoning it in. There’s still this biological component that sort of takes over where familiarity breeds contempt.”
Grey’s Anatomy will return for season 17 on ABC sometime this fall.