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Ellen Pompeo: 'Grey's' Spiraled 'Out of Control' With Katherine Heigl, Isaiah Washington Drama

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Ellen Pompeo (Getty Images)

"Grey's Anatomy" has had countless nail-biting moments in its 10 seasons, but some of the biggest dramas took place behind the scenes.

"Hurt feelings, combined with instant success and huge paychecks started things spinning out of control," Ellen Pompeo, who plays the show's title character Meredith Grey, told the New York Post. "The crazier things got, as I watched all the tumult with Isaiah and then the Katie thing, I started to focus on the work."

The 43-year-old actress was of course referring to former co-stars Isaiah Washington and Katherine Heigl in the unfiltered interview promoting the show's 200th episode. Both of their departures from the ABC medical drama made big headlines.

Elaborating on Heigl's 2010 departure, which stemmed from a contract dispute during which the blonde, who played Izzie Stevens, was vocal about her unhappiness on the show (which put her on the map and won her an Emmy), Pompeo called the situation "tough."

[Related: The Biggest Emmy Star Meltdowns of All Time]

"You could understand why she wanted to go — when you're offered $12 million a movie and you're only 26," said Pompeo. "But Katie's problem is that she should not have renewed her contract. She re-upped, took a big raise, and then tried to get off the show."

Pompeo added: "Then her movie career did not take off."

Washington's 2007 exit was also tainted with allegations of bad behavior. The 50-year-old, who played Preston Burke, allegedly used homophobic slurs both on the set and backstage at the Golden Globe Awards. In the interview, Pompeo revealed that Washington was almost cast in the role of Derek Shepherd, her character's long-running love interest, a role that ultimately went to Patrick Dempsey, and said she didn't want Washington in the role.

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Both Katherine Heigl and Isaiah Washington made dramatic exits from the show. (ABC)


"You know they wanted Isaiah Washington to be my boyfriend. Shonda [Rhimes, the executive producer] really wanted to put a black man in the mix. I didn't think they were really going to put an interracial couple on the show and I didn't want him. It was too close to home," said Pompeo, who is married to African American music producer Chris Ivery.

"I said I wanted that Dempsey kid," she continued. "I think that once Isaiah did not get the role, it backfired."

Throughout the off-camera drama, Pompeo said she just made sure to focus on her job.

"Maybe it is my Boston, blue-collar upbringing," she said. "I just tried to not pay attention to all the noise around me."

With the show in its 10th season, Pompeo seems to be getting more candid. She also recently blasted the Emmy Awards for its lack of diversity, telling the Associated Press she "didn't see any diversity in the Emmys at all. ... That dance number was embarrassing. Did you see one person of color in that dance number?"

However, she later said she thought the interview was off the record.

The 200th episode of "Grey's Anatomy" airs Thursday night at 9 p.m. on ABC.

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