Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo is opening up about her experiences with equal pay in Hollywood. The actress recently revealed that Grey’s Anatomy producers used her co-star, Patrick Dempsey, as leverage against paying her a fair salary. Although Pompeo fought for equal pay, she ultimately lost the battle – at least until Dempsey’s departure in Season 11.
According to E!, Pompeo claims that the network refused to pay her extra and threatened to fire her and move forward with Dempsey – her on-screen lover – if she didn’t agree. Pompeo isn’t sure if they pulled the same tactic on Dempsey, but the actor did not like the idea of teaming up with Pompeo during contract negotiations.
Things eventually reached a point where Pompeo requested $5,000 more than her male counterpart, but producers refused to budge.
Things drastically changed after Dempsey’s character was killed off in Season 11. With Pompeo, the main star of the series, the actress agreed to a massive deal with producers.
Not only does she make more money than previous seasons, but she also gets to produce a few episodes and help out on the new Grey’s Anatomy spin-off.
All told, Pompeo is now the highest paid actress on television, pulling down some $20 million annually. Although Pompeo is in a much better place, the transition didn’t happen overnight.
Pompeo explained how Dempsey’s departure dramatically affected the show’s ratings, which went up after he left. Even more telling, Pompeo revealed that the studio wanted to replace Dempsey ASAP and even sent her potential replacements when she was on vacation after Season 11 wrapped.
Pompeo says that she couldn’t believe how fast they wanted to “get a penis in there,” and that they cast Martin Henderson before they had his character’s story ironed out.
Henderson’s involvement in the show was short-lived. His character, Nathan Riggs, left at the end of Season 14, shortly after his love triangle with Meredith took off. It isn’t clear who will eventually replace Riggs as Meredith’s new love interest, but it probably won’t take long before we find out.
This is so great, thank you Dr. Grey! Ellen Pompeo’s Candid, Expletive-Filled Interview Will Give You New Respect For The Grey’s Star https://t.co/HuljFSU8Xx
— sueriedl (@sueriedl) January 18, 2018
Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes has not commented on Pompeo’s salary negotiations. She did, however, talk about her decision to kill off Dempsey’s character in Season 11.
Although many fans thought Rhimes ended Dempsey’s tenure over personal reasons, she revealed that the only way to preserve Meredith and Derick’s love was to kill him.
That said, Rhimes has admitted that she’s killed off characters over personal rows, and there’s a good chance she was referring to Dempsey. New episodes of Grey’s Anatomy air Thursday nights on ABC.