The actress, 51, and the Enchanted star, 55, had a lengthy chat about their time on the ABC drama during the Wednesday, September 29, episode of her “Tell Me With Ellen Pompeo” podcast.
“Only we can understand what this journey has been, and we are the only ones who truly understand it and each other, and we’ve all come through it with a tremendous amount of forgiveness and love for each other,” Pompeo said. “We have learned that lesson that empathy is the way and we’re living our best lives because of it. So, it has been an incredible blessing. I wouldn’t change any of it — even the bad we’ve learned from and the good we look back on and laugh and we still all love each other like brothers and sisters.”
The Catch Me If You Can star told Dempsey that she considered leaving the long-running series after his exit in 2015, but she stayed, in part, because Denzel came in to direct an episode. The Oscar winner, 66, oversaw season 12’s “The Sound of Silence” in 2016 because his wife, Pauletta Washington, was a fan of the show.
“Denzel’s a movie star, he doesn’t know s–t about directing TV. But [producer and costar] Debbie Allen was like, ‘What can I do to keep Ellen interested? What can I do to keep Ellen here?’” Pompeo shared. “Because after you left, I was like, ‘Why do I have to stay here? I gotta go now. Everyone’s gone. [Sandra Oh’s] gone, Patrick’s gone, I gotta go too.’ And Debbie was like, ‘No, no, no, you gotta stick around. I’m gonna bring in a surprise for you,’ and she would never tell me who it was but she knew I was a huge fan.”
The Old School actress subsequently got into a “fight” with Denzel when she went off script. “Working with Denzel was amazing. He went nuts on me,” she revealed, noting that she still “love[s] the guy.”
Pompeo was mad at the time, but the pair eventually worked through their disagreement.
Dempsey, for his part, missed out on the chance to work with Denzel, but the Can’t Buy Me Love star returned to the show for several episodes during season 17.
Scroll through the gallery below for more revelations from the former Grey’s Anatomy costars.