Ellen Pompeo Talks Post-Grey's Plan: 'I Don't Have a Strong Desire to Act'

Ellen Pompeo is planning for life after Grey’s Anatomy — and there’s a strong possibility she’ll be spending more time behind the scenes than in front of the camera.

“I definitely don’t have a strong desire to act after Grey’s. I definitely feel myself transitioning. I don’t find acting terribly empowering,” the actress said during a BuzzFeed Brews panel discussion hosted by Kate Aurthur, alongside her fellow ABC “Shondaland Thursday” stars Kerry Washington (Scandal) and Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder).

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Pompeo and co-star Patrick Dempsey closed new two-year deals with ABC last January that have them staying on Shonda Rhimes’ venerable medical soap through Seasons 11 and 12.

But the actress, who last month struck a deal with ABC to produce a potential series about a Boston female cop who becomes a police psychologist after a serious injury, said that where she really has fun nowadays is in “trying to find a book or an article or an idea and turn it into something.

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“Acting has been a wonderful opportunity, but I’ve done so much of it for the past 11 years — maybe part of my personality is I feel like I have something to prove sometimes — and with acting, I don’t feel like I have anything to prove anymore, even though I have no awards,” Pompeo added with a laugh.

Nevertheless, Pompeo refused to make any grand “I won’t set foot in front of a camera again!” pronouncements. “I would never say never,” she cautioned. “I try to keep an open heart and an open soul and spirit to whatever comes my way, and whatever is meant to be for me will be.”

That said, Pompeo said she feels she’s reached “the absolute top of what I can do in television, and I’d like to try a new sport and see if I’m any good… Grey’s is in like 97 countries and we’ve had this blessing of all these wonderful fans who still love us 10 later. I feel like I did it, and I don’t have anything else to prove.”

What do you think of the idea of a TV landscape without Pompeo in a leading role? Are you excited to see what she might do as a producer? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. JJM says:

    For someone who I hadn’t even heard of before this show started, I think she’s done an exceptional job as an actor. Her performance has always been stunning and if these two years are her last then I’m sure they’ll be as phenomenal as they always have been.

  2. Reggie says:

    It’s going to be ending of mine day, but before end I am reading this impressive piece of writing to improve my knowledge.

  3. Ray says:

    Meredith Pompeo is not a bad actress overall, but her crying scenes are beyond cringeworthy. Not surprised about the lack of awards and accolades.

    • Ray says:

      Whoops…meant Ellen Pompeo

    • Emma says:

      Considering she has instant name/face recognition now due to Grey’s, I’m sure whatever she tries next will do well. I’ll admit that while I wasn’t super impressed with her the first few years, I think she’s definitely improved- Meredith not being so dark and twisty anymore probably helped with that. I think she does best when Meredith isn’t so serious and is actually happy.

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  5. Lei says:

    I imagine it gets boring playing the same character and same emotions over and over every year.

  6. Sushi says:

    I think she sounds like an ungrateful millionaire now that she’s famous and made her fortune.

    • Moment says:

      I don’t think so. She clearly just wants to take a break from acting, or at the very most wants to slow down a little bit

    • Brooke says:

      How does she sound like that? She’s been doing the same thing for 10 years and would like to do something different to give herself some fulfillment and challenge after this, but at the same time still found what she did on Grey’s successful outside the normal benchmarks of award-season recognition. Good for her!

  7. Lizo says:

    She always sounds so grounded and realistic in her interviews. I have a great deal of respect for her (and for Dempsy) for sticking with Greys this long, and for being so pragmatic about it as ‘work’. Plus, her viewing her accomplishments as something outside of “awards” is wonderful. I wish her the best.

  8. FJ2 says:

    Well playing the same character for so long would probably turn me off acting too…but gladly Id have a lot of coin in the bank where I wouldn’t have to worry financially. Hopefully she’s got some money coming with residuals for years to come and can just follow her passions. We should all be so lucky

  9. D. says:

    She’s a fine, underrated, actress. I hope she’ll decide to pursue the acting carrer after Grey’s.

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  11. Tia says:

    She’s my favourite and the main reason I watch Grey’s. I will miss her so much if I don’t see her after Grey’s at all. So happy and grateful for her, for sticking out with the show for this long. But I wish her all the best luck, as a producer.

  12. Shaun says:

    She’ll be back…..

  13. rowan77 says:

    I’m not surprised she’s not sure she wants to act anymore. She’s been playing the same role for almost 10 years – and nothing else. Most TV actors do a project or two during their hiatus, but Ellen has chosen not to, so she must be burned out on being Meredith Grey.

    I’ve noticed that lots of actors say this after playing the same part for a long time without any (or at least very few) other parts during the same timeframe. Emma Watson said that before she went to college, Tom Felton, etc. They burn out playing the same part for years.

    Chances are after a short break, Ellen will get a script with a role that will excite her. But if not, she’s had a great run on a show that, more often than not, has been well-written and acted for almost a decade. And for that she should feel proud.

  14. herman1959 says:

    Wow, I think we just got an enddate for GA – credit to her for being so honest.

  15. pamela says:

    I hope she does well, people change in ten years so I don’t find this surprising. An award would be great but there are so many good shows and actors that have been ignored that you can’t take it personally.

  16. Snsetblaze says:

    I have seen her in other things before she was in Grey’s when she was very young. Not many things and for the life of me I can’t remember the names but I do remember her in them. I think she is doing the smart thing because often actors get typecast for one or get little to no work right after they finish a series, and although it has recently gotten better, there are not that many roles on tv or in the movies after an actress hits a certain age. Plus, you have all the movie actresses (Jessica Lange, Mary McDonnell, Kathy Bates, Angela Basset, Madeline Stowe, Famke Janssen, Halle Barry, Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Alfre Woodard (well, she has always been heavily both a tv and movie actress) for example, who have moved to tv during the past 10 years or so, so there is less to go around.

    There have been many actors in series that were either leads or part of an ensemble that have gone the way of directing or have served in other capacities behind the scenes.

  17. Tower888 says:

    I saw her as the victim on one of those “prank the celebrity” type shows. Basically they were trying to maker her jealous by having a fake waitress flirt with her boyfriend. Before the prank even started, she was rude, whiny, and dominating to her boyfriend. Once the prank started, she went mental with rage. She was like one of those people you see drunk and fighting in the street outside a popular club. To be honest, I was unhappy with this dose of the “real” her, because I had had a crush on her ever since her appearance in “Old School”. After watching her be herself for five minutes, my crush evaporated immediately.

    • Lily says:

      That is not at all the “real her”. Please. She’s done dozens upon dozens of interviews over the last ten years where she speaks with candor about topics close to her heart. Try to pay attention — and make it a life goal to NEVER, ever get your information from a MTV prank reality show. *shakes head*

  18. Rhonda says:

    IT would be a hard act to follow after ten years as the same character. Everyone has come to think of her as Meredith Gray. I will miss Christina too but people have to move on when they feel ready.

  19. Becky Delson says:

    I would actually like to see Ellen Pompeo on the big screen in some sort of mystery thriller. I think she would make an interesting, edgy leading lady for that.

  20. Mickey says:

    She IS a main character..when the main ones leave it brings a new dimension to the show…sometimes it works…mostly it don’t…I would hate to see her go…I love the show and she is part of it without her…a piece is missing…

  21. I lover her acting and I think she will be successful in whatever she tries. Sad to see her leave Grey’s though

  22. abc says:

    LOL, when Ellen says that, one actor comes to mind….David Caruso…starred in NYPD Blue and even won awards! He decided that meant he should quit TV right away and become a movie actor….oops, went back to TV.

    Of course, I suspect Ellen doesn’t have to do anything at all, so dabbling in producing might be fun. But the idea that she’s reached the pinnacle? LOL, hardly. Shonda has reached the pinnacle. Ellen came along for the ride, a lucky break. Doesn’t make her a genius. Doesn’t even make her good at acting…or anything else. I suspect her issue is that she’s afraid to go out and realize that her success was all about being at the right place/right time, not about the “talent”.

  23. EM says:

    I will miss Ellen. She is the main reason I watch the show along with Patrick.

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  26. Patrick Reyes says:

    She is not doing any acting right now or during the previous seasons …………..

  27. valerie says:

    I Think Ellen Pompeo Is A Phenomenal Actress Not Only Did She Bring Strength And Courage Emotional She Also Brought Grace I Think She Will Excel In What Ever He Choose To Do…Much Success Ellen And Thank You For An Awesome Job….