Ellen Pompeo has revealed her thoughts on the new era of Grey’s Anatomy, after original cast member Justin Chambers‘ abrupt exit, and she’s admitted the show feels “different” now. The 50-year-old sat down with our sister site Variety for an Instagram Live session on April 10 after production on the long-running drama was shutdown amid coronavirus fears. The ABC series was halted before the last four episodes of season 16 were scheduled to film. While self-isolating, Ellen revealed just how much she wishes she had “appreciated” the first six seasons of the series. “The show back then was just so, so, so, so good. I wish we had an appreciation for it then about how good it was,” she said.
“I don’t think we did, I don’t think any of us did. There was too much s**t going on. It was too big, it was too hot, it was too fast and there was just so much going on in the beginning. It was more attention and more work than any of us had ever experienced or done in our life.” Ellen added that the cast members were “exhausted” in the early days, and didn’t take time to notice “how good” the medical drama was, and is. “I wish we had appreciated it for really how good it was, because — man, the show was fantastic back then. It’s almost like a different show now and it’s great for other reasons. But my point is, I’m happy with the way it ended because I think that Alex going back to be with Izzie [Stevens, portrayed by Katherine Heigl] is an homage to those first days of that show. The first six seasons, with that original cast, are just fantastic.”
Ellen also revealed her thoughts on whether she believes the show will tackle the coronavirus pandemic in a future episode. “I don’t know. I thought about it. Obviously, we don’t want to get too political here, but I was just watching the news and I saw clip of Barack Obama in 2014, saying that a pandemic was inevitable and that we should be prepared for it,” she said. “The fact that five years later we’re not prepared, some people dropped the ball for sure. It’s disappointing.”
The on-screen doctor also praised the healthcare workers currently fighting the virus on the frontlines. “Can you imagine having to suit up and walk straight into a hospital every single day and deal with sick person, after sick person, after sick person? We don’t know sacrifice. Sitting in our houses, being bored, not having anything to do, being alone and loneliness is a real thing, and I don’t certainly want to downplay that. And I don’t want to also downplay people financially struggling,” Ellen said, adding, “Our healthcare professionals, the fact that they’re fighting this fight unprepared without the proper gear is really heartbreaking for me. When people are struggling, if you’re struggling, I think it’s always helpful to think of someone else and think of what you could do for someone else.”