Isaiah Washington Back on His Own Terms

The ex-Grey's Anatomy star talks of a career U-turn with a meaty role as the D.C. sniper in Blue Caprice.

Isaiah Washington as John Allen Muhammad and Tequan Richmond as Lee Boyd Malvo in Blue Caprice (Brian O'Carroll)
Isaiah Washington as John Allen Muhammad and Tequan Richmond as Lee Boyd Malvo in Blue Caprice (Brian O'Carroll)

IW: I still love [my fans]. I gave you Love Jones. I gave you True Crime. If you got it wrong, then you got it wrong, but I’m not a liar. I said what I had to say, I apologized for what I apologized for, but you’re lying on me.

If I did what they said I did, then how do [I] get to stay there [on Grey’s Anatomy]? I never understood my people who were mad at me. If you do what they said I did, how do you go back to work for eight months afterward?

I sat in the back being gagged by my former bosses, not talking because I was nervous; I didn’t want to lose the $20 million opportunity. So I am not going to talk anymore. You don’t get to stay anywhere if it all went down the way certain people wanted it to be framed. So anytime I could have said anything, even now, it’s like, why are you still talking about it?

[Some people may say] you’re an a–hole, you’re a homophobe. You can’t be in this business for 25 years having those issues. It don’t work — period. So when I checked out of Hollywood, I checked out because y’all are stupid.

TR: I know you have taken some smaller roles here and there, but when you dropped out of Hollywood, what did you do?

IW: I’ve been working in Sierra Leone. I’ve been helping to rebuild a nation that was torn apart by the blood-diamond wars. I found out that my ancestry is from Sierra Leone, and I was made a chief there. I’ve been lobbying on Capitol Hill and dealing with saving real lives.

I’m like Sean Penn in Haiti. I’m doing something that can change a child’s life with the schools I’ve been working on. I also wrote a book. Now I am trying to get funding to build a railroad in Africa. That’s what I have been up to for the last six years. I’m literally trying to still help my people because I love my people, even when my people don’t love me.

Julie Walker is a New York-based freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter.