Entertainment Weekly

DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS

Inside the extraordinary run of GREY’S ANATOMY as the ABC drama heads into season 15 with love (and dates for Meredith!)
Ellen Pompeo photo-graphed exclusively for EW on July 26, 2018, in Los Angeles

Ellen Pompeo always feels welcome in Seattle. Whenever the Grey’s Anatomy star travels to Washington to shoot on location, throngs of fans greet Dr. Meredith Grey like a long-lost relative. “Bless their hearts, they’re adorable,” Pompeo says of her recent trip for the season 15 premiere of the ABC drama.

“It’s incredible how this show just keeps resonating with every generation. It’s really touching.” And no doubt vindicating: After Pompeo signed a two-year, $20 million-per-year contract extension in January, many longtime viewers blamed the 48-year-old star for the departures of Jessica Capshaw (Dr. Arizona Robbins) and Sarah Drew (Dr. April Kepner) at the end of season 14.

Even though executive producer Krista Vernoff wrote on Twitter that Pompeo’s renegotiation had no effect on the decision to release the two cast members, Pompeo was still maligned at a time when she should have been celebrated for becoming TV’s highest-paid dramatic actress, at more than $575,000 per episode.

Instead, Pompeo admits, it’s been an exhilarating but equally infuriating moment in her 20-plus-year career. “It is really interesting how, as women, we are not accustomed to being forceful and asking for what we want, or asking for what we deserve, or speaking our mind,” she says during a recent break from shooting this season’s first episode. She’s been most surprised—or disappointed, rather—at the reaction to her success by female peers. “We still have a really long way to go with respect to women supporting women. In my experience, I see that women are really quick to rush to other women’s aid when they’re down, which is great, when they’re victims. It’s still more rare to have women support women when you’re on top.” And make no mistake, Grey’s Anatomy is still at its zenith. After 13 years, the medical drama remains one of the most popular series on ABC—despite boasting only four of its original stars.

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