The doctors are in. Ellen Pompeo and Katherine Heigl reunited for Variety’s Actors on Actors series, which saw the two former Grey’s Anatomy costars in conversation about playing doctors Meredith Grey and Izzie Stevens on TV’s longest-running medical drama:
The pair took a long trip down memory lane in the nearly one-hour-long video as Heigl reminisced about throwing a baby shower for Pompeo’s daughter, Stella Luna, and making them bolognese. Pompeo, who recently (sort of) left Grey’s Anatomy after 19 seasons, is watching Grey’s Anatomy with Stella for the first time. “At first, I was, like, “Oh, this is so amazing, and we’re going to watch it together,” Pompeo told Heigl. “Then it was episode after episode after episode, and I was, like, “I don’t have the stamina for this!” I filmed all these episodes; I can’t now go back and watch it again. What’s interesting is I hadn’t watched a lot of Grey’s because we were always working.”
Unlike Pompeo, Heigl watched every episode when it aired because she was “anxious to see how it all turned out.” The duo then reminisced about shooting the first season, which premiered as a midseason replacement in 2005 airing after Desperate Housewives and became an overnight sensation. “On Monday morning, we had to film the last day of that first season. We came into work the next day, and everybody was freaking out,” Pompeo said. “The ratings were huge. I don’t even know if people can count that high anymore. Then, we went on hiatus, and the show was airing. I’m so grateful there was no social media then. We would’ve lost our minds, even more than we already lost our minds.”
Despite winning an Emmy in 2007 for playing Dr. Izzie Stevens, Heigl left Grey’s after its sixth season after reported tension with executive producer and creator Shonda Rhimes. During the conversation, Heigl spoke positively of Rhimes. “Kudos to Shonda for changing the entire dialogue of network television at a time that really didn’t have women in those kinds of roles in the story, didn’t have as much diversity,” Heigl said. “I was young. I wasn’t paying that much attention. It felt like a job, a great job. I didn’t realize it was as impactful as it was.”
Heigl went on to discuss the headspace she was in around the time she decided to leave the series in 2010. “I was up here in my head, in my gut, in my mind, in my life. I was just vibrating at way too high of a level of anxiety,” Heigl said. “For me, it’s all a bit of a blur, and it took me years to learn how to deal with that, to master it. I can’t even say that I’ve mastered it, but to even know to work on it, that anxiety and fear—and stress is stress. And if you leave stress too long, unmanaged and unaddressed, it can be debilitating.”
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