In 2005, when Grey’s Anatomy premiered to international acclaim, the cast and crew were relieved and ecstatic and excited.
Well, all except the show’s star Ellen Pompeo, known on screens to her fans as Meredith Grey; aka the Grey of Grey’s Anatomy.
“I knew I was f**ked,” she told the Hollywood Reporter in a remarkable interview overnight.
The purpose of her taking up the role was a simple one: she needed to pay her rent. The year before, her attempts at cracking into the Hollywood film scene had stalled and her money was running dry. Her agent suggested she try her hand at a small-screen hospital drama.
“I was like, ‘I’m not going to be stuck on a medical show for five years’,” she remembers telling him, as per the Hollywood Reporter. “‘Are you out of your f**kin’ mind? I’m an actress.'”
Of course, pride is only so fun when it pays your bills, so she took the role. That was 14 years ago.
Today, Pompeo is dramatic television’s highest-earning actress, roping in $575,000 per episode, and about $20 million a year. That information hasn’t come from the rumour mill or well-connected sources but from Pompeo herself, in one of the most startlingly refreshing interviews she has ever given.
Pompeo is candid, at times brutal and deliberately lifts the veil on Hollywood, pay and power struggles. She touches on co-star Patrick Dempsey’s exit from the show (“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.”) and the underrated skill of being on the same show for so many years (“The truth is, anybody can be good on a show season one and two. Can you be good 14 years later? Now, that’s a f**kin’ skill.”).