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Getty Images | Shutterstock

Ellen Pompeo Speaks about Fighting with Denzel Washington on Set

Laura Beatham
Oct 04, 2021
06:10 A.M.

"Grey's Anatomy" star Ellen Pompeo spoke candidly about her experience working on set with Denzel Washington during an episode of her podcast with her guest, co-star Patrick Dempsey.


Ellen Pompeo gave details about an altercation she had with Denzel Washington on the set of "Grey's Anatomy," when the "The Equalizer" actor directed an episode of the medical drama show.

Pompeo shared her experience during an episode of her podcast, "Tell Me with Ellen Pompeo." Her co-star Patrick Dempsey featured on the episode, and they dished about their time on the beloved show.

Ellen Pompeo pictured at the 41st Annual People's Choice Awards, 2015, Los Angeles, California. | Photo: Getty Images

Ellen Pompeo pictured at the 41st Annual People's Choice Awards, 2015, Los Angeles, California. | Photo: Getty Images

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of her on-set fight with Washington, Pompeo made sure to clarify her impression of him and compliment the "The Little Things" actor, both on his acting and directing skills.

Washington directed the "Grey's Anatomy" episode, "The Sounds of Silence," but Pompeo was not silent about the situation. After gushing about Washington, she started her story by saying:


"He went nuts on me. This is a good Denzel story."

Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo pictured at the 57th Annual Emmy Awards, 2005, Los Angeles, California. | Photo: Getty Images

Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo pictured at the 57th Annual Emmy Awards, 2005, Los Angeles, California. | Photo: Getty Images

She then explained to Dempsey that the altercation between herself and Washington happened during a scene when a patient was apologizing to Dr. Meredith Grey for breaking her jaw during a seizure.

Dr. Grey had not wanted to hear the apology, but after Dr. Richard Webber convinced her, she went into the patient's room to hear him out. Pompeo reveals the actor who played the patient decided to say his lines softly.

In addition, Pompeo admitted she told Washington's wife about the altercation...


This upset Pompeo, so as her character, she shouted that he needed to look at her when he apologized. The problem was that the added dialogue was not in the script, and so Washington reacted severely.

Pompeo explained the improvised dialogue angered the guest director, prompting him to call her out in a rather aggressive way. She described what happened next:

" And Denzel went ham on my a--. He was like, ‘I'm the director. Don't you tell him what to do."


Pompeo was annoyed with Washington's response as she felt, as the main character, it was her set and her show. Therefore, he did not have the jurisdiction to tell her what to do.

"I was like, 'Listen, [expletive], this is my show. This is my set. Who are you telling?" the actress told Dempsey, recalling how she lashed back at Washington.

Pompeo admitted she told Washington's wife about the altercation when she visited him on set, and told her she was not talking to him or looking at him for the rest of the day.


Funnily enough, Pompeo has Washington's wife to thank (or curse) for the actor's directorial debut on the show as she is a big fan and encouraged her husband to take the job when it was offered.

Pompeo's co-star Jason George further confirmed Washington's wife's role in his directing during an interview with E! News. George shared she explained the show to the actor before he agreed to direct.

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