Grey’s Anatomy Star Ellen Pompeo: Isaiah Washington Almost Played Derek Shepherd
Grey’s Anatomy’s 200th episode is airing this week, and with that comes a lot of nostalgia for the cast — both good and bad. Grey’s fans know that with all the show’s crazy twists and turns, that they probably shouldn’t get too attached to their favorite characters, because before you know it, they could be gone — sometimes, totally out of the blue.
Two of the first of the original cast to go were Isaiah Washington (Preston Burke) and Katherine Heigl (Izzie Stevens), making departures that were, at the time, super controversial. Rumors about how difficult they both were to work with have swirled since, but until now, we never really got the whole truth. So, what was the deal with those two?
It turns out, according to Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey), that Isaiah — who was fired after making a gay slur on set toward T.R. Knight (George O’Malley) — may have had a bad taste in his mouth about Grey’s from the beginning. “You know they wanted Isaiah Washington to be my boyfriend,” Ellen told the New York Post. “Shonda really wanted to put a black man in the mix. I didn’t think they were really going to put an interracial couple on the show and I didn’t want him.”
Why not? “It was too close to home,” Ellen explained, referencing her own real-life interracial relationship with husband, Chris Ivery. “I said I wanted that Dempsey kid. I think that once Isaiah did not get the role it backfired.”
And as for Katherine? “You could understand why she wanted to go,” Ellen said. “You’re offered $12 million a movie and you’re only 26. But Katie’s problem is that she should not have renewed her contract. She re-upped, took a big raise and then tried to get off the show. And then her movie career did not take off.”
Do you wish Isaiah and Katherine were still part of the Grey’s Anatomy cast? Sound off below!