Ellen Pompeo & Shonda Rhimes Worked to Fix 'Grey's Anatomy's 'Really Toxic' Set

ABC/Bob D'Amico

Grey's Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo says the show had a "toxic" work environment for years.

The 49-year-old actress explained in an interview with Taraji P. Henson for Variety published Wednesday why she wanted to leave the ABC series many times.

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"It's funny: I never wanted off the bus in the year that I could get off," Pompeo, who plays Meredith Grey, told Henson.

"The first 10 years we had serious culture issues, very bad behavior, really toxic work environment," she said. "But once I started having kids, it became no longer about me. I need to provide for my family."

Pompeo said she worked with Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes to change the on-set experience.

(ABC/Tony Rivetti)

"We had some big shifts in front of the camera, behind the camera," the star recalled. "It became my goal to have an experience there that I could be happy and proud about, because we had so much turmoil for 10 years."

"My mission became, this can't be fantastic to the public and a disaster behind the scenes," she added. "Shonda Rhimes and I decided to rewrite the ending of this story. That's what kept me."

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Pompeo also worked hard to maintain Grey's Anatomy's success following Patrick Dempsey's departure. The actor left the show in 2015 after 11 seasons as Dr. Derek Shepherd.

"Patrick Dempsey left the show in Season 11, and the studio and network believed the show could not go on without the male lead. So I had a mission to prove that it could. I was on a double mission," Pompeo said.


Pompeo said during an episode of Red Table Talk in December she hasn't spoken to Dempsey since his exit.

"I have no hard feelings toward him. He's a wonderful actor and we made, you know, the best TV you could make together," the actress said.

Grey's Anatomy completed its 15th season in May. The show was renewed for two more seasons the same month.

By Annie Martin

Originally published in UPI Entertainment News.