Ellen Pompeo Recalls Going ‘At It' With Denzel Washington on ‘Grey's Anatomy' Set

The actress revealed that she yelled an improvised line to another character during an emotional scene, setting things off with the guest director

Ellen Pompeo on the red carpet for the "InStyle Awards" at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.
VALERIE MACON | AFP | Getty Images

It turns out "The Sound of Silence" temporarily held a little more weight than just the title of this particular episode.

The aptly titled episode from the 12th season of "Grey's Anatomy," which aired back in February 2016, had blockbuster giant Denzel Washington in the director's seat. And while the show's star Ellen Pompeo is singing his praises now (and did then, too), the actress revealed the two went "at it" while filming.

After gushing about Washington's superstar power and presence during the latest episode of her podcast, "Tell Me With Ellen Pompeo," the actress revealed to her guest and former co-star, Patrick Dempsey, that once she yelled an improvised line to another character during an emotional scene, it set things off quite a bit.

"I was like, 'Look at me when you apologize. Look at me,'" she recalled yelling at the actor during the scene. "And that wasn't in the dialogue. And Denzel went ham on my a--. He was like, 'I'm the director. Don't you tell him what to do.'"

"I was like, 'Listen, m-----------, this is my show,'" Pompeo continued. "This is my set. Who are you telling?"

Clarifying that she has the "utmost respect for him as an actor and director," Pompeo also made it clear that despite the incident, it was smooth sailing between the two from there on out.

"So, we didn't get through it without a fight, but that's actors for you," she added. "Passionate and fiery and that's where you get the magic, and that's where you get the good stuff. So, it was an amazing experience, it really was."

Pompeo's amazing experience echoes what her co-star Jason George told E! News about having the actor as a surprise director back in 2016.

"There is a slight difference when a director [who] has been an actor is directing you," George explained. "Denzel leads everybody in the dust in terms of that. He can hit to the core of what's really going on for you in that scene very quickly and get everybody focused."

As Pompeo herself puts it at the end of her memorable tale, "He's just one of the best to ever do it."

Ellen Pompeo discussed her evolution on “Grey’s Anatomy” when she sat down with Taraji P. Henson for Variety’s Actors on Actors. The actress admitted she almost quit the ABC drama multiple times during the first 10 years because of the “really toxic work environment.” Watch to find out more.
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