Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo slams Patrick Dempsey in explosive equal-pay essay

The actress has said that Patrick leaving Grey's Anatomy was a "defining moment"

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Ellen Pompeo has spoken candidly about advocating for a salary that paralleled her Grey’s Anatomy co-star Patrick Dempsey in an essay published by The Hollywood Reporter.

The Emmy-winning actress, who has played Meredith Grey on the long-running ABC series since its debut, detailed her experience fighting for equal pay on Grey’s Anatomy, and how Patrick Dempsey leaving the show in 2015 was a “defining moment” for her career.

“For me, Patrick [Dempsey] leaving the show [in 2015] was a defining moment, deal-wise. They could always use him as leverage against me — We don’t need you; we have Patrick’ — which they did for years. I don’t know if they also did that to him, because he and I never discussed our deals,” she told The Hollywood Reporter.


“There were many times where I reached out about joining together to negotiate, but he was never interested in that. At one point, I asked for $5,000 more than him just on principle, because the show is Grey’s Anatomy and I’m Meredith Grey. They wouldn’t give it to me.”

How Ellen Pompeo became TV’s $20M woman. Link in profile. Photo: @mrmikerosenthal

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“And I could have walked away, so why didn’t I? It’s my show; I’m the number one. I’m sure I felt what a lot of these other actresses feel: Why should I walk away from a great part because of a guy? You feel conflicted but then you figure, ‘I’m not going to let a guy drive me out of my own house.’”

The 48-year-old also explained that after Patrick left the show, a new male was almost immediately cast – Martin Henderson.

“I was on vacation in Sicily, decompressing — it was a long working relationship and it was a tumultuous end and I needed a moment to just chill with some rosé — and they’re calling me, going, ‘What do you think of this guy?’ ‘What do you think of this guy?’ And they’re sending pictures.

“I was like, ‘Are you people f**king nuts? Why do you feel that you have to replace this person?’ I couldn’t believe how fast the studio and the network felt like they had to get a penis in there,” she said.

Thankfully, that’s all changed as Ellen now calls the shots on the show, along with creator Shonda Rhimes.

The actress has just signed on for a 15th and 16th season of Grey’s Anatomy.

According to US Weekly, Ellen will earn $575,000 an episode, earning more than $20 million a year, along with a seven-figure signing bonus and two backend equities points (estimated to bring in another $6 million to $7 million).

The star will also get a producing fee and backend on the untitled Grey’s Anatomy spinoff – this all makes Ellen TV’s highest paid dramatic actress.

To read more of Ellen’s inspiring essay, read her full piece in The Hollywood Reporter here.