Ellen Pompeo is a huge Denzel Washington fan. However, after working with her, that may have been difficult for the iconic actor and director to discern. The actress has been the star of Grey’s Anatomy for a number of years now. She is also currently hosting her own podcast, Tell Me with Ellen Pompeo. The star is known for being loud and sharing her own thoughts and opinions, even if those go against the status quo. Usually, her fans are on her side. However, in a recent episode of her podcast, she shared her experience working with Denzel Washington. It’s unclear whether Pompeo believed she would come off as relatable in the story, but it makes her sound truly terrible. Completely unprompted, and for no reason anyone can discern, the Grey’s Anatomy star has outed herself as a difficult diva who ruined Denzel Washington’s day. Twitter is not having it.
Before we dive into all the details of what Ellen Pompeo said to Denzel Washington, let’s take a look at what the internet is saying about it. Twitter is setting this behind-the-scenes drama up well.
Denzel Washington is a director known for Antwone Fisher, The Great Debaters, and Fences. He also directed one episode of Grey’s Anatomy. The episode in question has been considered one of its best, but that sounds like it was despite some shocking diva drama behind the set. She didn’t just get in a fight with her director–she took it further than that.
So, what happened exactly? After over a decade of working on Grey’s Anatomy, Ellen Pompeo was restless. So, apparently, she was in a mood. Her co-stars Patrick Dempsey and Sandra Oh had already exited the show. The star says she wasn’t sure there was a reason for her to continue working on the series anymore. Debbie Allen is a producer, actress, and director on the series. She told Pompeo that there was lots of reason for her to stay. She also promised Pompeo a big surprise. Debbie Allen knew that the actress was a major fan of Denzel Washington’s, so without telling the actress, she brought Denzel Washington on to direct one of the series’ best episodes.
The Sound of Silence aired in the middle of season 12. At the beginning of the episode, Ellen Pompeo’s character, Dr. Meredith Grey, is helping a man having a seizure. One by one, her fellow doctors leave the room. She’s staying with the patient and waiting for neurology to show up. The patient is quiet and seemingly asleep, but then he appears to come to. Then, alone in the room together, the patient experiences post-seizure-hyper-aggression. Much larger than her, he violently attacks her. She is on the floor for a while before being discovered. Her injuries are found to be severe. Her broken jaw makes it impossible for her to talk, and at first, she also can’t hear. The Denzel Washington-directed episode explores silence, and moreover, it explores women speaking up for themselves.
Further into the episode, there is an important scene where Dr. Meredith Grey’s attacker apologizes to her. It’s a very important scene. It shows that her attacker is a gentle giant of a man. He would never attack someone in his right mind. However, Ellen Pompeo’s character is still in a wheelchair and has been going through hell. Accepting his apology isn’t easy. The scene is emotional, heartfelt, and stands out. Apparently, filming this scene is also when Ellen Pompeo and Denzel Washington fought.
The actor Ellen Pompeo was filming with, Dohn Norwood, wasn’t looking her in the eye during his apology. He also made the choice to speak softly. That’s when Ellen Pompeo shared on her podcast that, “Again, we love actors who make choices, right? And I yelled at him, and I was like, ‘Look at me when you apologize. Look at me.’ And that wasn’t in the dialogue, and Denzel went HAM on my ass.” While she says he went “HAM”, she then says that Denzel Washington said, “I’m the director. Don’t you tell him what to do.”.
And then Ellen Pompeo recalls telling Denzel Washington things that have shocked the internet. She told her director, “I was like, ‘Listen, motherfucker, this is my show. This is my set. Who are you telling?’ Like, ‘You barely know where the bathroom is.” To her podcast listeners, she then added, “And I have the utmost respect for him as an actor, as a director, as everything, but, like, yo, we went at it one day.”
Yes, she honestly claims to have called him a “motherf*cker” and then said she respected him. No one understands how that works.
Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the story. Oh, no. Ellen Pompeo wasn’t done after fighting with her director. Her next move? She told Denzel Washington’s wife on him. His wife, Pauletta, visited the Grey’s Anatomy set. The actress recalled telling his wife, “‘Yeah, he yelled at me today. Yeah, he let me have it today, and I’m not okay with him, and I’m not looking at him, and I’m not talking to him.'”
Adding to the confusion of this story, Ellen Pompeo then called the experience a good one. She said that actors are like this. She’s glad she got to work with Denzel Washington. She said, “So we didn’t get through it without a fight, but, you know, that’s actors for you—passionate and fiery—and that’s where you get the magic, and that’s where you get the good stuff. So it was an amazing experience, it really was.”
Twitter would disagree. In fact, Twitter thinks that Ellen Pompeo sounds like she was very disrespectful to Denzel Washington, her director. Twitter has decided Ellen Pompeo has earned the title of Karen. This incident happened in 2016. Since then, Denzel Washington hasn’t signed on to direct any more television.