Ellen Pompeo Reveals That ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Feels ‘Different Now’ & Says She Enjoyed Seasons 1-6

The cast of "Grey's Anatomy" poses in the portrait studio during the 33rd Annual People's Choice Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on January 9, 2007 in Los Angeles, California.
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Ellen Pompeo admits that Grey’s Anatomy hasn’t been the same for her in recent years.

The actress has played Meredith Grey on the medical drama since 2005. She recently spoke to Variety via Instagram Live to discuss the show and how it’s changed since she first joined the cast. Pompeo admitted that looking back, she enjoyed the earlier episodes. She said that Seasons 1 to 6, specifically, were the ones that she realized were the best in hindsight.

“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.

Pompeo also added she feels she and her castmates at the time underestimated how well the initial seasons — which also included Patrick Dempsey, Katherine Heigl, Sandra Oh, and Justin Chambers — had gone. Prior to Grey’s, she had been in several films, but the series was her big break. She said as the show continued to gain momentum in its early years, it was easy for her and her castmates to overlook the impact it was having on its fans. However, due to their fame, she remembers that she and her colleagues were “exhausted” most of the time while filming.

“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,” the actress admitted.

Pompeo went on to say that she was happy Grey‘s was able to take a step back and reflect on the first six seasons. The series’ writers were given that opportunity after Chambers announced he was leaving to focus on other projects. To write him off, Chambers’ character, Alex Karev, reunited with his ex-wife, Izzie Stevens, who was played by Heigl. Pompeo shared that the now-controversial episode was an “homage” to the first years and its beloved cast and characters.

Pompeo also discussed how since Grey’s Anatomy has been on, many people have come to her and shared that she was the reason they decided to go to medical school. She also reflected on her character and how Meredith was always a strong person. She said when she auditioned for the series, she appreciated Meredith’s strength and how she was different from other characters she had read. She explained that the character has gotten stronger as she has evolved as a person over the last 15 years.

Grey’s aired its Season 16 finale on Thursday, April 9. The season ended early due to the coronavirus pandemic and wrapped in Episode 21, which was titled “Put on a Happy Face.”