Grey's Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo has just renewed her contract for seasons 15 and 16 and become the highest paid dramatic actress on television. Quite a feat, but the actress has revealed it wasn't always so easy to negotiate the salary she wanted on the hit medical drama.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the actress said: "For me, Patrick [Dempsey] leaving the show [in 2015] was a defining moment, deal-wise. They could always use him as leverage against me — "We don't need you; we have Patrick" — which they did for years. I don't know if they also did that to him because he and I never discussed our deals."
Pompeo went on to say that she had in the past wanted to team up with Dempsey in salary negotiations but he didn't want to do that: "There were many times where I reached out about joining together to negotiate, but he was never interested in that. At one point, I asked for $5,000 more than him just on principle, because the show is Grey's Anatomy and I'm Meredith Grey.
"They wouldn't give it to me. And I could have walked away, so why didn't I? It's my show; I'm the number one. I'm sure I felt what a lot of these other actresses feel: Why should I walk away from a great part because of a guy? You feel conflicted but then you figure, "I'm not going to let a guy drive me out of my own house"."
Ellen's new deal means she earns more than $20 million a year — $575,000 per episode, a seven-figure signing bonus, back-end equity points on the series, as well as a producing credit on Grey’s, and an executive producing credit on the upcoming spin-off. On top of that, she has pilot commitments and office space for her Calamity Jane production company on Disney's Burbank lot.
Pretty decent deal and Ellen was happy to talk about it with THR in the hope of setting an example for other women in Hollywood.
"I’m 48 now, so I’ve finally gotten to the place where I’m OK asking for what I deserve, which is something that comes only with age. Because I’m not the most ‘relevant’ actress out there. I know that’s the industry perception because I’ve been this character for 14 years. But the truth is, anybody can be good on a show season one and two. Can you be good 14 years later? Now, that’s a fuckin’ skill."