The actress has portrayed Meredith Grey since the ever-popular ABC series began back in 2005

By Nicholas Rice
August 25, 2020 10:53 AM
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Ron Tom Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Ellen Pompeo is speaking her truth.

Joining Dax Shepard for a candid chat on the latest episode of his Armchair Expert podcast, the 50-year-old actress recalled feeling like she had to prove that she was "good" on Grey's Anatomy without Patrick Dempsey.

"When Patrick left, I had something to prove,” Pompeo began. "He left season 11 and then I was renegotiating season 12, so I could have left, because the man left, which is not the story I want to tell."

"They had put that in my head for so long, that I was no good without him," she added. "I had to rewrite the ending of that story and say, well, 'Who’s right? Am I actually good without him?' I had to take over that script and rewrite that story and prove to myself that they were wrong in all the things they put into my head over all of those years."

Dempsey, 54, played Derek Shepherd for 10 years. Pompeo has played Meredith Grey since the ever-popular ABC series first began back in 2005.

Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey
Bob D'Amico/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

During the chat, Pompeo also shared that Dempsey leaving the show was exactly what she needed to move forward, both personally and professionally.

"I was just so beat down and meant to feel like they could do the show without me,” she said. "Patrick Dempsey leaving the show was that for me. I was like, 'Oh, I have a window here now. How are they going to tell me they don’t need me?' You don’t have him, so you can’t use him against me."

But when she first negotiated her contract after six years on the medical drama, Pompeo noted that she "was terrified."

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"I’m super typecast on this show. This shows a monster and I'm 39, I’ll never work again, I better just stay here," she said.

As Pompeo first shared in a 2018 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she fought for equal pay after many failed attempts.

"You know we didn’t set out for the [Hollywood Reporter] article to be what it was, so that was interesting. I have negotiated several times on Grey’s obviously now," she explained on the podcast. "Like I say in the article, the only real power you ever have is if you’re truly willing to walk away."

Ellen Pompeo

Pompeo also admitted that watching herself age from 33 to 50 on-screen is "not so fun."

"You really see it because I’m in the same clothes [playing] the same character. So the way I see myself aging, that's a motherf-----" she said.

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The actress also discussed when she might be ready to walk away from the long-running television series, adding that she doesn’t want to overstay her welcome.

"Certainly, to dip out sooner rather than later at this point … [and] leave while the show is still on top is definitely a goal," she said. "I’m not trying to stay on the show forever. No way. If I get too aggravated and am no longer grateful there, I should not be there."