Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo has revealed that she almost quit the hit medical drama over “toxic” work environment that prevailed on show’s sets in the first 10 years.
The 49-year-old actor plays the lead character of Meredith Grey in the ABC medical drama since 2005.
Speaking with Taraji P Henson for Variety’s Actors on Actors series, Pompeo said in the first decade of the show, the crew faced major culture issues on the set and there were “many moments” when she wanted to quit.
“There were many moments. It’s funny: I never wanted off the bus in the year that I could get off. The first 10 years we had serious culture issues, very bad behaviour, really toxic work environment,” the actor said.
She ultimately decided to stay with the show because she wanted to provide for her children — Sienna, Stella, and Eli.
“Once I started having kids, it became no longer about me. I need to provide for my family. At 40 years old, where am I ever going to get this kind of money? I need to take care of my kids,” Pompeo added.
After the show’s 10th anniversary, Pompeo said, she started working on something that could make everyone happy.
“After Season 10, we had some big shifts in front of the camera, behind the camera. 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,” the actor said.
Pompeo also said the network bosses were uncertain about the show’s future after her co-star Patrick Dempsey left it in Season 11.
“The studio and the network believed the show could not possibly go on without the male lead. So I had another mission to prove that it could. I was on a double mission,” she said.
The medical drama, one of the longest running shows on TV, just completed 15 seasons.