Ellen Pompeo did not hold her fire during a recent, candid interview in The Hollywood Reporter, in which she opens up about money and sexism.
In the piece, she claims that when Patrick Dempsey left Grey’s Anatomy during season 11, it was a turning point for her and led (after a huge struggle) to her current, blockbuster $20M payday.
She says: "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. 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.”And they continued to fight her, she says."So, what does it look like when he leaves the show? First, it looks like a ratings spike, and I had a nice chuckle about that. But the truth is, the ink wasn't even dry on his exit papers before they rushed in a new guy. 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?'"She continues, dropping the p-bomb: "I couldn't believe how fast the studio and the network felt like they had to get a penis in there. We brought in Martin Henderson, but they didn't love the storyline, so that ended."These days, Pompeo is rolling in it. She just signed a new two-year deal with ABC Studios, which is behind the long-running medical drama. The deal paves the way for two more seasons (15&16) for the Shonda Rhimes megahit.Pompeo has now become not the highest-paid actress on primetime TV with $550K an episode, or $20 million per year.So what’s next?She says: “I know that I really like directing, and that my ambition is not to be an episodic TV Director for sure, that’s a very hard job. I’d love to direct a pilot. […] Producing and directing is where I’m challenged and where I’m learning. It’s more interesting to me because it’s a skill I haven’t mastered yet. Acting, I don’t know. If the right role comes along, and it’s interesting, then never say never, but I do have three kids. I don’t necessarily want to travel around. Acting is a tough gig in itself, and you’ve got to travel. I wouldn’t say it’s my burning desire to go act in something else.”