Ellen Pompeo Reveals Why She Thinks Jessica Capshaw and Sarah Drew Are Leaving ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

Ellen Pompeo has many thoughts on why Jessica Capshaw and Sarah Drew might be leaving Grey’s Anatomy — and it has nothing to do with how much money she makes. After her costars announced they were exiting the show earlier this month, rumors began swirling that it had something to do with Pompeo’s salary. Pompeo, 48, revealed in January that her salary had been increased to nearly $20 million a year after months of negotiations.

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“It’s absolutely not true,” the actress told Ellen DeGeneres on the comedian’s daytime show on Thursday, March 22, insisting that her salary and her costars’ roles had nothing to do with each other. However, she had some ideas about why they were suddenly departing from the popular medical drama.

ellen-pomeo-on-ellen
Ellen Pompeo on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.

“I mean, I’m not involved in these kind of decisions, however, there’s a few problems that you encounter doing a show for 14 seasons. One of them is the writers have a really hard time creatively thinking up new stories for all these characters,” she explained. “I think we have 16 regular cast members, and I think it’s always sad when we lose people for whatever reason. Whether they want to go or don’t want to go, it doesn’t make it any easier.”

Ellen Pompeo on Grey's Anatomy
Ellen Pompeo on Grey’s Anatomy ABC/Byron Cohen

The show’s co-showrunner Krista Vernoff echoed these thoughts in a statement following the news of the departure. In a lengthy tweet, she stated that the casting decision was due to story lines. “The decision to make changes to our cast was a creative one. The only thing as constant on Grey’s Anatomy as Ellen Pompeo is our penchant for reinvention,” she wrote at the time. “It is a part of our success and what keeps the show exciting. We love these actresses and we love these characters and it felt true and right creatively to wrap up their stories. And that is the whole story.”

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Pompeo also explained that she was hurt when fans started assuming she had something to do with the women leaving, as they’re both close friends of hers.

Sarah Drew and Jessica Capshaw on Grey's Anatomy
Sarah Drew and Jessica Capshaw on Grey’s Anatomy Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images

“I think that it’s important for us to not pit women against each other and to really dispel the notion that women are always victims. You don’t have to pit us against each other,” she said. “We’re not enemies. We do lift each other up and support each other, and we’re not victims. We’re very strong and we’re capable of many, many things.”

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Grey’s Anatomy airs on ABC Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET.

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