Grey’s Anatomy has had quite a long run, and the show is still going on. Renewed for a 16th season, be sure to catch your favorite characters next fall. Talking of favorite characters, isn’t Meredith Grey just the best? Despite shocking departures on the fan-favorite series, Ellen Pompeo has stuck around through it all.
However, it is through sheer perseverance that she has stood the test of time in matters Grey’s Anatomy. Despite signing a deal that keeps her on board for two more seasons, the actress admits that playing Meredith hasn’t always been a bed of roses.
To Quit or Not To?
Speaking to Taraji P. Henson (Empire’s Cookie Lyon), Pompeo confessed that thoughts on quitting the show have crossed her mind more than once. This was especially true for the show’s first ten years, with the actress describing it as a toxic environment to work in.
When Grey’s Anatomy debuted in 2005, Pompeo’s paycheck was almost half her former co-star’s, Patrick Dempsey. The issue of unequal pay in Hollywood has long been in existence and has only recently been seriously addressed.
Addressing the situation, Pompeo thinks that Dempsey received a bigger paycheck because he had more acting experience than she did at the time.
What’s more, the reality of how big the disparity in their pay didn’t hit her until the show was in its third season. What an injustice!
The first decade was particularly difficult for Pompeo, and the actress cites unacceptable culture issues at work, inappropriate behavior, and general toxicity.
These all made her think of throwing in the towel, but after becoming a mom, she had to stay on so as to provide for her family. Oh, what mothers have to stomach for their kids’ sake!
Admittedly, Pompeo’s Grey’s Anatomy paycheck has caused her many a sleepless night. Last year, she renegotiated her contract for a $575,000-per-episode pay – an undeniable win on her part.
Before this eventuality, however, the showrunners had been adamant about increasing her wages. The actress even recalls that in 2015, they used Dempsey as leverage, to seemingly prove that they didn’t need her as much as long as he was still on the show.
Pompeo says that she even once asked for a $5,000 increment on principle, seeing as the show is eponymously named after her character.
The showrunners didn’t budge, and she has never felt more ready to quit than at that exact moment. However, she didn’t want to be driven out of everything she had worked for thus far, so she persevered.
Seeing how Meredith Grey’s arch is the heart and soul of Grey’s Anatomy, why wouldn’t the show do everything in its power to keep its lead actor happy? And best believe that Ellen Pompeo is that important to the show.
The actress even has a pact with Shonda Rhimes (the creator) that Grey’s will run for as long as she is on the show. The minute Pompeo decides to leave, the show is over and done with.