Ellen Pompeo Says She Was Paid Less Than McDreamy, Even After Asking For A Raise

It’s no secret that “Grey’s Anatomy” is one of the most successful shows on television right now. The medical drama that was created by mastermind Shonda Rimes has been on the air for 14 seasons so far, and, doesn’t show any signs of stopping now. For years, characters on the show have been introduced, loved, and then killed off eventually (if you love Grey’s, you know to never get too attached to anyone). Of course, the one staple of the show has been Meredith Grey, the tequila-loving, chaos-filled, surgeon in which the show is actually named after. From episode one, fans couldn’t help but fall in love with Meredith Grey and her quirky humor and wit. But, 14 seasons later, Ellen Pompeo–who plays Grey–is opening up to The Hollywood Reporter about the struggle behind-the-scenes to really get what she deserves.

Pompeo admits that when negotiating a salary for a role you just landed, there’s added pressure and anxieties that go along with it–especially when you’re starring next to a talented male lead. For years, she had an anxiety towards working with Patrick Dempsey–McDreamy, Meredith’s love interest in the show–thinking she could always get dropped because they had him.

For me, Patrick [Dempsey] leaving the show [in 2015] was a defining moment, deal-wise. 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 I could have walked away, so why didn’t I? It’s my show; I’m the number one. I’m sure I felt what a lot of these other actresses feel: Why should I walk away from a great part because of a guy? You feel conflicted but then you figure, “I’m not going to let a guy drive me out of my own house.”

She also said that when Dempsey was killed off the show, the network wanted to replace him immediately with a new male love interest.