Ellen Pompeo Details Heated On-Set Exchange With Denzel Washington

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“I was like, ‘Listen, motherfu**er, this is my show. This is my set,” recalled the ‘Greys Anatomy’ actress.

Collage Ellen Pompeo Denzel Washington

Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images; Jenny Anderson/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

Ellen Pompeo shared how she and Denzel Washington clashed on the set of Grey’s Anatomy. During an episode of her podcast Tell Me with Ellen Pompeothe actress opened up about an intense exchange between herself and the veteran talent.  According to PEOPLEshe expressed high regard for the Oscar-winning actor before breaking down their past conflict.

Back in 2015, Washington directed the season 12 episode “The Sound of Silence.” Former Grey’s Anatomy costar Patrick Dempsey, who joined Pompeo on her podcast, guest-starred in the episode.

The show’s lead actress described Washington as “crazy charismatic” and detailed how executive producer and fellow Grey’s Anatomy actress Debbie Allen brought on Washington to keep Pompeo’s interest following Dempsey’s exit.

Grey's Anatomy

Ellen Pompeo in Grey’s Anatomy, season 12, episode 1, “Sledgehammer,” which aired Sept. 24, 2015.
Richard Cartwright / ©ABC / courtesy Everett Collection

“Debbie Allen was like, ‘What can I do to keep Ellen interested? What can I do to keep Ellen here?’ because after you [Dempsey] left, I was like, ‘Oh, why do I have to stay here? I’ve got to go now. Everyone’s gone. Sandra’s [Oh] gone, Patrick’s gone. I’ve got to go too,’”  she recalled. “And Debbie was like, ‘No, no, no. You’ve got to stick around. I’m going to bring in a surprise for you,’ and she would never tell me who it was. But she knew I was a huge fan.”

Pompeo continued to explain how the entire ordeal played out. The scene the Training Day actor directed featured her character, Meredith Grey, in an emotional exchange with a patient.

“He went nuts on me—this is a good Denzel story,” shared the 51-year-old actress. In the scene, she improvised her reaction to the patient, to Washington’s disapproval.

“Again, we love actors who make choices, right? And I yelled at him [the patient], and I was like, ‘Look at me when you apologize. Look at me.’ And that wasn’t in the dialogue, and Denzel went ham on my ass.”

Denzel Washington

Honoree Denzel Washington speaks onstage during the 47th AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Denzel Washington at Dolby Theatre on June 6, 2019, in Hollywood.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for WarnerMedia

Pompeo continued, “He was like, ‘I’m the director. Don’t you tell him what to do.’ And I was like, ‘Listen, motherfu**er, this is my show. This is my set. Who are you telling? Like, you barely know where the bathroom is.’ And I have the utmost respect for him as an actor, as a director, as everything, but like, yo, we went at it one day.”

Washington has not spoken publicly about the alleged conflict. Overall, however, the Old School actress said she had an “amazing experience” working with Washington whose wife Pauletta is a huge fan of the long-running medical drama.

Greys Anatomy premiered on March 27, 2005, and debuted its 18th season on Sept. 30. In the series’ history, it has earned 39 Emmy Award nominations, winning five, and nine Golden Globe nominations with two wins.



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