T.R. Knight: Leaving Grey's Anatomy Was the "Best Decision"

Entertainment Jul. 23, 2009 AT 12:59PM
T.R. Knight arrives at the 20th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Marriott Marquis on March 28, 2009 in New York City. T.R. Knight arrives at the 20th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Marriott Marquis on March 28, 2009 in New York City. Credit: George Napolitano/FilmMagic.com

For T.R. Knight, leaving the hit medical drama Grey's Anatomy was the "best decision" he could have ever made.

The actor tells the latest issue Entertainment Weekly that he left the hit ABC show after executive producer Shonda Rhimes drastically cut his screen time this past season -- he appeared for only 48 minutes in the first nine episodes -- and showed concern over his decision to become openly gay.

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"There just comes a time when it's so clear that moving on is the best decision," Knight tells EW (on newsstands Friday).

Knight, who had played series regular Dr. George O'Malley for all five seasons, also says there was a "breakdown in communication" with Rhimes.

Although Rhimes has said she purposefully cut Knight's character from recent episodes so his disappearance in the May finale -- in which he appeared to have died after he was struck by a bus -- wouldn't have been noticeable to audiences, the star says it wasn't justified.

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"It didn't seem like an ebb to me," he says. "No other series regular's character had ever disappeared like mine did this past season."

He also felt he didn't understand his character, especially when he slept with his best friend Izzie (played by Katherine Heigl) while he was married. "My five-year experience proved to me that I could not trust any answer that was given [about George]," he says.

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Knight also cites the dismissal of former costar Isaiah Washington, who used an anti-gay slur on set. It took Rhimes three months to publicly condemn Washington, which Knight calls "frustrating."

The incident brought about another problem for Knight. He says complications arose between him and Rhimes when he decided to respond to the situation by coming out publicly.

"I think she was concerned about having my statement come out so close to the [initial] event," he says, adding that she was among those who encouraged him to stay in the closet.

Although he got out of his $14 million contract three years early, he has no regrets. "There are a lot of people who would like to be in my position," he says. "But in the end, I need to be fulfilled in my work -- that's more important than the money."

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Knight, who was asked to appear on the show's sixth season in flashbacks but refused, is currently working on theater projects.

In September, he'll headline a stage production of Parade in L.A. and will debut on Broadway in the Stanley Tucci-directed revival of Lend Me a Tenor in February.

Despite speculation that Heigl would leave the show with her off-screen pal, she recently began filming the show's next season.

"It's a little bizarre," she told Usmagazine.com about working without Knight. "I had to call him this morning and say, 'OK, so this is what happened yesterday! This is what scenes we shot, this is how I felt about it.' He's who I went to everyday when I wanted to vent or to get advice."

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