The ‘Grey’s’ Reunion We’ve Been Waiting For: Ellen Pompeo and Katherine Heigl on Ghost Sex, Operating on Dead Animal Parts, Shonda Rhimes and More
When Ellen Pompeo sees Katherine Heigl before our photo shoot, she offers a greeting worthy of Barbra Streisand. “Hello, gorgeous!” Pompeo exclaims, giving Heigl a hug. And suddenly, it’s like no time has passed since “Grey’s Anatomy” premiered as a midseason replacement in 2005 — after ABC executives considered not airing the show at all — in the time slot after “Desperate Housewives.” Ultimately, these two women somehow not only surpassed the ladies of Wisteria Lane, they redefined pop culture. Throughout this reunion, we seriously take you back to the first days of TV’s longest running primetime medical drama. As “Grey’s Anatomy” became an overnight sensation, Pompeo and Heigl were launched into the stratosphere of fame together, for better and for worse. On the plus side, the Shonda Rhimes-created series revolutionized television, with women and actors of color leading the show. Yet the sudden, sometimes toxic attention — as well as spending those long days and nights on the infamously grueling set during the early years — taught both of them hard-won lessons. “If you cannot stand up for yourself in this industry, very few people will stand up for you,” Heigl says to Pompeo. “So you’d better learn how to, and you’d better be OK with them not liking you for it. ” Their time together on the “Grey’s Anatomy” set also created a bond that’s lasted to this day. Pompeo has been the still-popular drama’s mainstay, though her character, Meredith Grey, recently left the show’s Seattle hospital for Boston. Pompeo will begin filming a limited series for Hulu this fall, playing someone who isn’t Meredith for the first time in 18 years, which Pompeo laughingly calls “an interesting experiment.” But she assures us that we’ll still see Meredith on “Grey’s” when it begins its 20th season. Heigl’s Netflix drama “Firefly Lane,” in which she played talk show host Tully Hart, recently wrapped after two tear-jerking seasons, after which she returned to her home in Utah. Heigl left “Grey’s Anatomy” in its sixth season in 2010, taking her fan-favorite character Izzie Stevens with her, having acquired a reputation — one she dismantles here — for being, as she puts it, “ungrateful” and “difficult.” During their conversation, the two actors laugh about how young the rabid fan base of “Grey’s” is these days, discuss what they’ve learned over the years and bolster each other — like old friends do.