Ellen Pompeo Called Denzel Washington A 'Motherf**ker' On Set Of 'Grey's'

by Julie Scagell
Rich Fury/Michael Tran/Getty

Some Denzel fans weren’t too happy about the exchange

Grey’s Anatomy actress Ellen Pompeo says she had words with Denzel Washington during an episode of the show he directed back in 2016.

Washington, a two-time Oscar-winning actor, was on set to direct “The Sound of Silence” episode when Pompeo said she decided to ad-lib a line, she told former co-star Patrick Dempsey on her Tell Me With Ellen Pompeo podcast, released this week.

The line that got Washington heated was: “Look at me when you apologize. Look at me,” she said to another actor in the scene about an exchange (prompted by a real-life experience) where a patient having a seizure broke her character, Meredith Grey’s, jaw. “And he wasn’t looking at me in the eye,” Pompeo continued, insinuating the actor was underperforming. “Again, we love actors who make choices. And I yelled at him, I was like, ‘Look at me! When you apologize, look at me!’ And that wasn’t in the dialogue.”

Apparently, that’s not what Washington had in mind and he got ticked off, according to Pompeo.

“Denzel went ham on my ass,” Pompeo said to Dempsey. “He was like, ‘I’m the director. Don’t you tell him what to do.’ And I was like, ’Listen, motherfucker, this is my show. This is my set. Who are you telling? Like you barely know where the bathroom is.’ And I have the utmost respect for him as an actor, as a director, but like, yo, we went at it one day.”

Pompeo went on to explain that Washington only “did the show because his wife is a big fan,” and that he “saw it as a good exercise to just come in and direct something quick.”

Fans had mixed reactions on Twitter about the exchange, many feeling that Washington was actually the one disrespected by the exchange:

Pompeo continued on, explaining the two didn’t speak for a while on set. She also said she went to speak with Washington’s wife, Pauletta Pearson, and told her, “Yeah, he yelled at me today. He let me have it today, and I’m not OK with him, and I’m not looking at him, and I’m not talking to him.’”

Eventually, the two hashed out their differences and went on to have a good working relationship according to Pompeo. “We were fine after that. He’s just one of the best to ever do it.”

She also said that the back and forth and passion of all of the combined actors and directors is where the “magic” happens. “That’s where you get the good stuff,” she said.