Ellen Pompeo On Patrick Dempsey, Leaving Grey's Anatomy, & Fighting For...
Grey's Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo talks Patrick Dempsey, leaving Grey's Anatomy, and fighting for more in the workplace for women.
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Ellen Pompeo On Patrick Dempsey, Leaving Grey's Anatomy, And Fighting For More
To any Grey's Anatomy fan, Ellen Pompeo is everything. What is Grey's Anatomy without Meredith Grey, after all? Recently, Ellen Pompeo spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about some behind-the-scenes drama when it came to the network and her co-star, Patrick Dempsey, who played Dr. Derek Shepherd on Grey's Anatomy for eleven years, how his departure empowered her, and what's next for Grey's in the next few years now that she signed a $20 million deal with ABC. What does Pompeo have to say about Dempsey after all these years? And is Pompeo leaving Grey's Anatomy anytime soon? You won't want to miss this!
Ellen Pompeo Leaving Grey's Anatomy 2018?
The success of Grey's Anatomy is unmatched. Could it have been done without Ellen Pompeo? Probably not. But, it almost did. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Pompeo admitted that she was less than ecstatic when her agent brought her the script for Grey's Anatomy in 2005.
"I was like, 'I'm not going to be stuck on a medical show for five years,'" Pompeo remembers telling her agent, Rick Kurtzman. "'Are you out of your fuckin' mind? I'm an actress.'"
Luckily, Kurtzman convinced her to audition to pay her rent.
For anyone wondering if Pompeo still feels this way, she doesn't. Thank god, or else we would be constantly wondering if Ellen Pompeo was leaving Grey's Anatomy. But, it looks like Pompeo will not be leaving Grey's Anatomy anytime soon. Now, fourteen seasons later in 2018, Pompeo is signing a new $20 million contract with ABC Studios.
Even better news? This deal includes her part in the current season of Grey's Anatomy as well as the 15th and 16th seasons. That means we get at least two more years of Grey's Anatomy!
The new deal also gives Pompeo a seven-figure signing bonus, a portion of what the show makes, a producing fee for the Grey's Anatomy firefighter spinoff, and space for her Calamity Jane production company.
Ellen Pompeo And Shonda Rhimes On Fighting For More At Work
Pompeo attributes her success to her boss, Shonda Rhimes, the showrunner of Grey's Anatomy, who just signed a sizeable Netflix deal as well.
“What happened is that I went to Shonda and I said, ‘If you’re moving on to Netflix and you want the show to go down, I’m cool with that. But if you want it to continue, I need to be incentivized. I need to feel empowered and to feel ownership of this show,’” Pompeo told THR. “And she was like, ‘I absolutely want to keep the show going. It’s the mothership, so let’s find a way to make you happy. What do you want?’"
Rhimes also has some words of wisdom for any of you who are nervous for your next performance review.
"As a woman, what I know is you can't approach anything from a point of view of 'I don't deserve' or 'I'm not going to ask for because I don't want other people to get upset,'" Rhimes said. "And I know for a fact that when men go into these negotiations, they go in hard and ask for the world."
So, what did Rhimes tell Pompeo?
"Decide what you think you're worth and then ask for what you think you're worth. Nobody's just going to give it to you."
And it worked. Pompeo is now the highest-paid actress on a primetime drama.
Ellen Pompeo On Patrick Dempsey 2018
While this is all easily said and done, she had to fight her way to the top. Pompeo admits that her turning point when it came to making deals happened when her co-star, Patrick Dempsey, left the show in 2015.
Pompeo said that the network "could always use him as leverage against me — 'We don't need you; we have Patrick' — which they did for years. 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.'"
And while the network thought that Dempsey was the star, Pompeo's impact remained.
"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 said.
Though, that didn't stop the network from pushing another man into Meredith Grey's life
"The ink wasn't even dry on [Dempsey's] 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 fucking nuts? Why do you feel that you have to replace this person?' I couldn't believe how fast the studio and the network felt like they had to get a penis in there. We brought in Martin Henderson, but they didn't love the storyline, so that ended."
Since then, the narrative has changed for both Rhimes and Pompeo.
"In Shonda finding her power and becoming more comfortable with her power, she has empowered me," Pompeo said. "And that took her a while to get to, too. It was part of her evolution. It's also why our relationship is so special. I was always loyal to her, and she responds well to loyalty. So, she got to a place where she was so empowered that she was generous with her power. Now, what did that look like? It looked like her letting me be the highest-paid woman on television, letting me be a producer on this show, letting me be a co-executive producer on the spinoff and signing off on the deal that the studio gave me, which is unprecedented."
Are you excited for 2 more years of Grey's Anatomy??
Grey's Anatomy Season 14 returns to ABC every Thursday at 8|7c on January 18!
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