Katherine Heigl and Ellen Pompeo were nothing but laughs as they sat side by side during an interview with Variety after eight years. It seems that the connection they had formed on the set of the hit show Grey’s Anatomy has not faded despite the fact that Heigl, 44, left the show halfway through the show’s sixth season in 2010. Pompeo, 53, who serves as the show’s titular character Meredith Grey, also announced that the show’s 20th season would be her last as a series regular.
The pair of former co-stars discussed personal matters involving their families before pivoting their focus to the TV show. Heigl and Pompeo reminisced about their time on the show, including how Heigl worked with the same deer later in her career that she had when she was starring on the show.
Soon the topic of Pompeo’s departure from the show came up. Pompeo explained that she was happy to be leaving the character of Meredith Grey after so long. The pair discussed how disconcerting it was that young people who watch the show are now, with Heigl offering an odd experience she had at the liquor store.
“This man comes up to me and goes, ‘Excuse me. I’m so sorry, but my daughter, she’s freaking out over here. Would you mind talking to her for a minute?’ And I was like, ‘Sure. Come on over, honey.’ She goes, ‘Do you know Grey’s Anatomy?’ And I was like, ‘I do. Yeah.’ She goes, ‘Do you know Izzie Stevens?’ And I go, ‘Yes, I do.’ She goes, ‘Are you her mother?’ Thankfully that hasn’t happened again,” Heigl said.
Finally, the pair discussed something that has been shrouded in controversy: the quality of treatment on the show’s set. Consistently, the show’s off-camera atmosphere has been in the public eye, including an infamous altercation between Patrick Dempsey and Isaiah Washington, which resulted in Washington referring to co-star T.R Knight with a homophobic slur. An altercation that Heigl reportedly tried to intervene with.
Pompeo supported Heigl while Heigl recounted the events leading up to her departure from the hit TV show, including how Heigl spoke up against boundaries of hers that were being crossed on the show’s set, with Heigl admitting that she didn’t know how to fight those battles. Pompeo quickly came to Heigl’s defense.
“And there has to be some forgiveness, or some grace, for not everybody being able to handle every situation perfectly. I’ve certainly never handled every situation perfectly. I’d like to see other people try to walk a mile in your shoes during that time, and let’s see how they would’ve handled it,” Pompeo said. To which Heigl responded, “Thanks, Ellen. You’re a good friend.”