Ellen Pompeo has become one of the richest women in television after fighting for a hefty pay increase for her role on "Grey's Anatomy."
The actress spoke with The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday about her $20 million a year salary.
"What happened is that I went to Shonda [Rhimes] and I said, 'If you’re moving on to Netflix and you want the show to go down, I’m cool with that. But if you want it to continue, I need to be incentivized. I need to feel empowered and to feel ownership of this show."
Her new paycheck comes out to $575,000 for each episode of the medical drama.
But prior to her successful negotiation, Pompeo was met with resistance, she said.
"For me, Patrick [Dempsey] leaving the show [in 2015] was a defining moment, dealwise. They could always use him as leverage against me — 'We don't need you; we have Patrick' — which they did for years. I don't know if they also did that to him, because he and I never discussed our deals. There were many times where I reached out about joining together to negotiate, but he was never interested in that."
She said she felt she should be paid more than her on-screen love Dempsey for her role as the title character.
"At one point, I asked for $5,000 more than him just on principle, because the show is Grey's Anatomy and I'm Meredith Grey. They wouldn't give it to me. And I could have walked away, so why didn't I? It's my show; I'm the number one. I'm sure I felt what a lot of these other actresses feel: Why should I walk away from a great part because of a guy? You feel conflicted but then you figure, 'I'm not going to let a guy drive me out of my own house.'"
Dempsey ended up leaving the show, and Pompeo said the studio rushed to hire another male leading actor to fill his shoes.
"...The truth is, the ink wasn't even dry on his exit papers before they rushed in a new guy," she revealed to The Hollywood Reporter. "I was on vacation in Sicily, decompressing — it was a long working relationship and it was a tumultuous end and I needed a moment to just chill with some rosé — and they're calling me, going, 'What do you think of this guy?' 'What do you think of this guy?' And they're sending pictures. I was like, 'Are you people f---ing nuts? Why do you feel that you have to replace this person?'"
The 48-year-old said she is glad she has decided to stick with the show despite the ups and downs.
"...I'll tell you, sitting in rooms full of Oscar-winning actresses listening to how they've been preyed upon and assaulted is frightening. And it confirmed that my path really was the right one for me, because I've chosen to financially empower myself so that I never have to be ducking predators and chasing trophies. It's not for everyone. You have to be more interested in business than you are in acting."
She revealed she once had a run-in with the now infamous Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of assaulting dozens of actresses.
"My agent once sent me to see Harvey, too. I went right up to his room at the Peninsula, which I would never normally do, but Harvey was a New York guy, so it made sense," Pompeo recalled. "Plus, it was in the middle of the day, and he had an assistant there. He didn’t try anything on me. Had he, I’m a little rough around the edges and I grew up around some very tough people, so I probably would have picked up a vase and cracked him over the f---ing head. But I also feel completely comfortable saying that I walked into that room batting the s--- out of my eyelashes. My goal in that room was to charm him, as it is in most rooms like that."