Ellen Pompeo Recalls Butting Heads With Director Denzel Washington on 'Grey's Anatomy'

Ellen Pompeo reveals she and famous actor Denzel Washington once exchanged some heated words while working on the Grey's Anatomy set. Washington was directing the Season 12 episode "The Sound of Silence," when they began to butt heads over Pompeo's added direction of another actor –– which didn't sit well with the two-time Oscar winner. 

"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," she told her former costar Patrick Dempsey on her podcast Tell Me With Ellen Pompeo. "He was like, 'I'm the director. Don't you tell him what to do.' I was like, 'Listen, motherf––er, this is my show, this is my set. Who are you telling?'" 

She added: "So, we didn't get through it without a fight, but that's actors for you. Passionate and fiery and that's where you get the magic." The actress added that she and Denzel eventually made up. Dempsey empathized with his former co-star on the episode of her podcast. 

"You're living in that emotion all day long, so things can set you off really quickly so it's really hard to keep that boiling, that emotion so it's accessible — especially in television 'cause you gotta crank it out — that you are raw the whole day, and it's important to create the right atmosphere on set where you're safe to be able to do that," he said in response. 

Dempsey went on to share that he had a Denzel story of his own. The Enchanted star says he ran into Washington during a trip to craft services for a breakfast burrito on the wrong set. "He's like, 'Hey, man, you're on the wrong set, this is not your set. Get out of here,'" he shared. "And then he looked at me and he winked and he was just giving me s--t in a good way but scared me to death 'cause he gave me the Denzel Washington look."

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Turns out, there are quite a few interesting details that happened behind the scenes of the show. Dempsey and Pompeo revealed they were both actually "horrified" by the idea of doing the show's musical episode, "Song Beneath the Song." "I was like, 'Listen, I don't wanna chicken out here. We're doing this musical, I wanna be all in, I wanna commit, I wanna try, but I'm a terrible singer. But yes, if you guys can help me sound better, I'm not going to be good, but I also am not gonna chicken out, so I'll just dive right in,'" Pompeo said. Dempsey, on the other hand, said he "chickened out completely."