Ellen Pompeo Says She Feels 'Super Happy' After 'Grey's Anatomy' Exit

Ellen Pompeo wants to "mix it up a little bit" after stepping back from her role on Grey’s Anatomy

Ellen Pompeo is excited about what's next following her decision to step back from Grey's Anatomy.

The actress opened up to Drew Barrymore on Tuesday about her reduced role on the ABC medical drama after 19 seasons.

"I feel super happy, but listen the show has been incredible to me and I've loved a lot of the experience," Pompeo said on the latest The Drew Barrymore Show. "Listen it's just I gotta mix it up a little bit. I'm 53, my brain is like scrambled eggs ... I gotta do something new or I'm literally gonna turn into, like, [someone who] can't do the New York Times crossword puzzle every single day."

She continued, "I mean 10 years, that's more than people keep their kids in their house — like people keep their kids in their house until they're 18 and then they send them off to college, so this is like me, like, going away to college."

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 06: 2022 PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARDS -- Pictured: Ellen Pompeo arrives to the 2022 People's Choice Awards held at the Barker Hangar on December 6, 2022 in Santa Monica, California. -- (Photo by Chris Polk/E! Entertainment/NBC via Getty Images)
Chris Polk/E! Entertainment/NBC via Getty

Pompeo shared that she is looking forward to spending time with her children — son Eli Christopher, 5, and daughters Sienna May, 8, and Stella Luna, 13 — and shooting her upcoming Hulu limited series Orphan.

"I have a lot that I'm doing," she shared. "I have three kids and so I take care of them, and it's really important for me to be around for them and be more present for them. I'm gonna do a limited series for Hulu in the spring, which is a very cool kind of crazy true story."

Reps for Pompeo and ABC did not immediately return PEOPLE's request for comment.

GREY’S ANATOMY - “Should I Stay or Should I Go” – Bailey faces an unhappy Catherine who is facing audits for several of her Foundation hospitals. Meanwhile, Addison is back at Grey Sloan; tensions rise between Meredith and Richard, and Owen returns to work on a new episode of “Grey’s Anatomy,” THURSDAY, MAY 5 (9:00-10:01 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (ABC/Liliane Lathan) ELLEN POMPEO
Liliane Lathan/ABC

Pompeo stepped back from Grey's Anatomy this season to pursue outside projects, including Orphan, which follows a terrifying adoption story in which a couple's new daughter turns out to be a grown woman masquerading as a child.

At the 2022 People's Choice Awards last week, Pompeo teased that fans will still see her character Meredith Grey on screen a few more times this season.

"I think I am really just in the finale this year," she told E! "I think we've aired six episodes or seven episodes, possibly. Maybe after the winter hiatus, I am in one more, maybe, and then the finale, actually."

She also thanked the fans for making "it all possible," adding, "Power to the people!"

Her costar Chandra Wilson revealed Pompeo's character will continue to "ebb and flow" through season 19 of the ABC drama series during a separate interview with E!.

"Meredith never knows what she's doing so Meredith is taking care of the baby in Boston, that's what the plans are, but you know things never go as planned on Grey's Anatomy," she shared to host Laverne Cox. "Meredith is still a part of every episode, still doing the voiceovers for every episode and she gets to come through, and ebb and flow all through the season."

She added, "Meredith is always with us."

RELATED VIDEO: Ellen Pompeo Has 'Immense Gratitude' for Grey's Anatomy Fans as Meredith Grey Readies to Leave Seattle

Last month, Pompeo shared a sweet goodbye message on Instagram following the Grey's Anatomy's fall finale, which marked her final official episode of the season.

"I am eternally grateful and humbled by the love and support you have all shown me, Meredith GREY and the show for 19 seasons!" wrote Pompeo, 53. "Through it all….none of it …would have been possible without the best fans in the world. You all are RIDERS and you all have made the ride so fun and ICONIC!!"

She added, "I love you madly and appreciate you right back."

Meredith's storyline (so far) ended with her character's decision to leave Seattle for Boston, where she accepted a position with the Catherine Fox Foundation to research Alzheimer's disease. There have been far more dramatic, and tragic, exits on the series — and Meredith's new job certainly leaves the door open to guest appearances.

Pompeo confirmed as much in the conclusion of her statement. "This isn't your first time on the rollercoaster… you know the show must go on and I'll definitely be back to visit," she wrote. "With a lot of love and immense gratitude XoE 🙏🏼❤️"

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Grey's Anatomy returns to ABC on Feb. 23.

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