When Ellen Pompeo, the lead actress on Grey’s Anatomy, was offered the role of Dr. Meredith Grey, she had no idea it would become the role of a lifetime, but she was certain she did not want the role to be anything like her real life.
As Grey’s Anatomy celebrates its 200-episode milestone, Pompeo reveals in an interview with the New York Post that initially, former castmate Isaiah Washington was going to play her boyfriend. “Shonda really wanted to put a black man in the mix,” Pompeo said to the Post about the idea that the show’s executive producer, Shonda Rhimes, had for Pompeo’s love interest. But Pompeo says that she asked for someone else because “it was too close to home.”
Pompeo could be referring to her real-life marriage to music producer Chris Ivery, who is black. But it’s an ironic statement coming from the same actress who recently made headlines for blasting this past year’s Emmy Awards over their lack of diversity. “The Emmys felt so dated to me … ” she told the Associated Press. “I’m extremely proud of our very, very diverse cast which represents the world that I walk around in every day.”
Perhaps when Pompeo said “dated” she was referring to 2005, when Grey’s Anatomy debuted on television. The “world” she walks “around in every day” with Ivery as her husband started in 2007, long after she’d already rejected a small-scene Jungle Fever. Looking back, Pompeo says that Washington took it hard. “I think that once Isaiah did not get the role, it backfired.”
Instead of Washington, Pompeo asked for Patrick Dempsey, who plays her on-screen husband, Dr. Derek Shepherd (better known as McDreamy). The two have been on the show since the beginning. Washington would play Dr. Preston Burke for four seasons before being denied a contract renewal after allegedly calling castmate T.J. Knight a gay slur. But while on the show, Washington’s character did end up in an interracial relationship with Dr. Cristina Yang, played by Asian-Canadian actress Sandra Oh.
Read more at the New York Post.