What happened on the sets of Grey's Anatomy? Ellen Pompeo and Kate Walsh share horror stories from work

Ellen Pompeo and Katherine Heigl in Grey's Anatomy (Image via ABC)
Ellen Pompeo and Katherine Heigl in Grey's Anatomy (Image via ABC)

On a recent episode of Tell Me with Ellen Pompeo, the Grey's Anatomy star admitted to the horrors on the show's set and declared her support for Katherine Heigl, her former co-star from the ABC medical drama. During a long conversation with Kate Walsh, another Grey's Anatomy veteran, Ellen shed light on the inhuman working hours required for typical network television shoots.

Ellen Pompeo backed Heigl saying that she was "completely right" in calling out the malpractices of the showrunners. She also remarked that if Heigl had said it in the present day and age, she would have been considered a hero. Back then, however, she was ignored and labeled ungrateful.

Walsh agreed with Ellen's statement, admitting that the shooting hours for Grey's Anatomy would often go up to 17 hours a day.

"She’s 100 percent honest, and it’s absolutely correct": Ellen Pompeo on former Grey's Anatomy alumni Katherine Heigl's revelation in 2009


Katherine Heigl, in certain ways, was ahead of her time. She spoke out against the malpractices of the network television industry back in 2009 on The Late Show with David Letterman. Heigl shed light on how difficult it was for the actors to keep up with the routine every time. She specifically referenced her experience on the Grey's Anatomy set where the cast had exceptionally long working hours, calling it 'cruel' and 'mean.'

Backing up her old friend and co-star, Ellen Pompeo said:

"I remember Heigl said something on a talk show about the insane hours we were working and she was 100 percent right...And had she said that today, she'd be a complete hero. But she's ahead of her time, made a statement about our crazy hours and of course, [it was like] let's slam a woman and call her ungrateful."

While talking to Walsh, Pompeo also praised Heigl's bravery for making such a strong statement at such an early point in her career. The two actors also discussed how the times have changed and people are more receptive now. Back then, the scenario was quite different with nobody wanting to land up in the bad books of the network.

Walsh backed Pompeo's statement, saying:

"There's nothing natural about [the filming process]. There's nothing human about it...It's made for a machine, it's as if we're a camera or a mic that just goes and goes and goes."

Walsh and Pompeo also discussed how the long hours and intense work take a toll on the actors' health, recalling one particular incident from the show. Thankfully, times are changing now, with more people aware of their rights in the industry. However, malpractices continue to plague the world of television production.

Grey's Anatomy will return with a new episode on May 5, 2022.

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Edited by Mohini Banerjee
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