"If I started the show when I was younger, [like] 25, I probably would have dipped out when I was 31, 32, when my six-year contract was up," Pompeo told Jemele Hill on her Unbothered podcast. "I knew coming up on 40, it's like, I don't want to be out there chasing [roles]… begging. I'd rather just see this as the blessing that it is. A healthy home life was more important than [a] career. I didn't grow up with a particularly happy childhood. I [now] have this great husband and these three beautiful children, so 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."
Pompeo's revelation comes as co-stars Kim Raver, Camilla Luddington and Kevin McKidd have all signed contracts guaranteeing their return for Season 17, and implies that the show could keep going. Grey's had already extended Pompeo's deal through the end of Season 17, meaning this trio of contracts bolsters the show's anticipation for a Season 18 renewal. Granted, it's unclear when production will resume on the series, given the coronavirus pandemic. The most recent season was cut short for the same reason, and just so happened to end with enough closure to tide fans over.
Executive producer Krista Vernoff had confirmed that "we're going to address the pandemic" in the upcoming season, adding that it would be impossible to be one of the longest-running medical dramas and not tackle the "medical story of our lifetimes." Speaking at the Quaranstreaming: Comfort TV That Keeps Us Going panel, which aired on Tuesday on Emmys.com, Vernoff said that real-life doctors would be meeting with producers to share their experiences to tell the most accurate story they can about coronavirus.
It's a technique the show uses regularly, Vernoff explained. To keep a sense of authenticity, the producers are frequently meeting with doctors and other health officials to help guide the storytelling. However, the EP did admit that this particular instance has felt a little different, given the widespread impact of coronavirus.