With Doctor Meredith Grey’s future on Grey’s Anatomy so unclear this season as the story's lead battles COVID-19, actress Ellen Pompeo has gotten candid on what Meredith's survival means for the future of the show.
"We honestly have not decided. We're really trying to figure it out right now," Pompeo told CBS Sunday Morning.
The 51-year-old confirmed that neither the viewers nor the actress herself know if her character is alive as she drifts in and out of consciousness in the most recent episodes. Patrick Dempsey reprised his role as Derek Shepherd again with T.R. Knight coming back as George O’Malley in Doctor Grey’s consciousness.
After 17 seasons, Grey’s Anatomy is the longest-running medical drama in history but it wasn’t something Pompeo initially wanted to do.
"I got cut out of a bunch of movies," Pompeo admitted. "So, then it came to a point where I needed money, so I did the Grey's pilot.
"I said, 'I don't want to be stuck on a medical show for six years. I don't think I'll be happy. I think I'll be bored,'" she recalled. "And [my agent] said, 'You know, Ellen, just take the job. It's gonna last, you know, a month, six weeks at best. And these things never go.' So, I said, 'Oh, they don't?' And he said, 'No, no. It'll just be a job and you'll right back to being broke and unemployed and complaining in a couple of months.' And I said, 'Okay.'
"I looked at myself as if I was in a box when I was 35-years-old," Pompeo said. "Now I'm 50, and I would never look at myself that way again. So, with age comes wisdom.
"And now, how do I see it? Well, I can do anything I want. Or not do anything at all!"
However, Kevin McKidd who plays Doctor Owen Hunt told Digital Spy that he has a "gut feeling" the show will continue after season 17.
The show resumed filming in September 2020 after it halted production in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"Since we shut down filming, 7000 healthcare workers have died from Covid. I dedicate my season 17 to all who have fallen and to every one of you who by the grace of God is still standing," Pompeo shared at the time. "This season is for you with humility and a bit of humor to get us through and endless amounts of gratitude."
Now Pompeo has been able to use her troubled childhood to channel deep feelings into her work.
"I think people might have, you know, my sisters or my family might have other impressions of me. But I definitely, you know, had a very sad childhood because I lost my mother when I was four. So, that shapes your entire existence, I think," she said.
"I think it probably made me want to get out of there. You know, that place represented sadness for me. So, I thought, maybe anywhere but there would be better. And luckily for me, I found a way to monetize all my emotion, you know?"