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Ellen Pompeo on Katherine Heigl’s Grey’s Anatomy Exit: Things Were “Spinning Out of Control”

The cast of Grey's Anatomy
Ellen Pompeo revealed that Katherine Heigl's departure from Grey's Anatomy was "tough."

Bring on the truth serum! Grey's Anatomy has undergone numerous cast changes in its nearly 10 seasons, but two dramatic exits in particular shook up the set, show veteran Ellen Pompeo recently told the New York Post in an interview.

"Hurt feelings, combined with instant success and huge paychecks started things spinning out of control," she said. "The crazier things got, as I watched all the tumult with Isaiah and then the Katie thing, I started to focus on the work."

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"Maybe it is my Boston, blue-collar upbringing," the 43-year-old actress continued. "I just tried to not pay attention to all the noise around me."

Heigl's departure, Pompeo admitted, was "tough."

"You could understand why she wanted to go — when you're offered $12 million a movie and you're only 26," she said. "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."

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In a surprisingly frank story in The Hollywood Reporter last month, sources spoke out about how working with Heigl was a constant stream of "desperately difficult situations."

"She can cost you time every day of shooting," a source said of the 34-year-old star. "Wardrobe issues, not getting out of the trailer, questioning the script every single day."

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Another one of Grey's more controversial departures, Pompeo recalled, was that of Isaiah Washington (the actor used homophobic slurs on-set and then again backstage at the 2007 Golden Globe Awards). The 50-year-old actor was actually supposed to play her boyfriend in place of Patrick Dempsey in the first iteration of the show, Pompeo revealed.

Thankfully that didn't happen, however, because Washington was given the boot shortly afterward.

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"Shonda [Rimes, the show creator] really wanted to put a black man in the mix," she revealed. "I didn't think they were really going to put an interracial couple on the show and I didn't want him. It was too close to home." (Chris Ivery, Pompeo's husband of six years, is African-American.) "I said I wanted that Dempsey kid. I think that once Isaiah did not get the role it backfired."

Pompeo and music producer Ivery, 44, have a daughter, 3-year-old Stella Luna, together.

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