Ellen Pompeo Has Watched Far Fewer Episodes Of Grey's Anatomy Than You'd Expect

Ellen Pompeo has been the face of "Grey's Anatomy" since Day 1. After all, the "Grey" in the title is a reference to Pompeo's character, Meredith Grey, making her the backbone of the wildly popular Shonda Rhimes medical drama that premiered in 2005. But Pompeo almost turned down the role. As surprising as it may sound, the Boston native had her eyes set on the big screen, not TV, she told The Hollywood Reporter in 2018. When her agent showed Pompeo the script, she initially dismissed it. "I was like, 'I'm not going to be stuck on a medical show for five years,'" Pompeo recalled.

Her film career wasn't developing as planned, though, and Pompeo was barely making ends meet. The prospect of getting a paycheck started to sound more appealing after a few days, so she auditioned and hasn't looked back. She quickly learned being on a TV show has its pros, particularly as a mother. Pompeo lost her mother to an overdose when she was 5, so raising her children was a priority. "To have a happy home life was really something I needed to complete, to close the hole in my heart, and so I made a decision to make money and not chase creative acting roles," she said on the "Jemele Hill is Unbothered" podcast in 2020, according to E! News

But just because Pompeo's name is synonymous with "Grey's" doesn't mean she's binge-watching it like the rest of us mere mortals. In fact, Pompeo has barely ever seen an episode.

Ellen Pompeo only watches Grey's Anatomy when directing

Ellen Pompeo is no big fan of watching "Grey's Anatomy" on her days off, even though the show has been on for 18 seasons, amassing a whopping 392 episodes. "I haven't really seen most of them, I've watched only a handful," Pompeo told guest Martha Stewart on her podcast, "Tell Me with Ellen Pompeo," on February 23, according to E! News. But she does make exceptions when she's fulfilling her other role with the show. "The few times I've directed, I went back and watched some old episodes," Pompeo added. 

On those occasions, she watches the early episodes in an effort to keep the "Grey's" spirit alive. "My intention is always to keep the spirit of the early days," she told Stewart. "That's really the hard work, is to try to keep that sort of DNA, which is hard but gives us a goal at least to strive for."

Pompeo isn't the only star who isn't tuning in to catch the latest episode. On January 19, Eric Dane admitted he doesn't feel compelled to watch "Grey's Anatomy" because, "Well, I was there when it happened," he told ExtraTV. Dane, aka McSteamy, previously elaborated that seeing himself on the screen makes him uncomfortable. "You start looking at things you shouldn't be looking at that have nothing to do, really, with anything of importance," he said on the BUILD Series in 2017. Like Pompeo, Dane only watches his work when involved in production.