December 27, 2006
The gamine Ellen Pompeo, 37, received her first Golden Globe nomination earlier this month for best actress in a drama series for ABC's red-hot medical drama, "Grey's Anatomy."
The actress is completing opposite Kyra Sedgwick for "The Closer," Edie Falco for "The Sopranos," Patricia Arquette for "Medium" and Evangeline Lilly for "Lost" for the award that will be handed out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. on Jan. 15 during a three-hour telecast on NBC.
And on a personal front, Pompeo became engaged to her boyfriend, music producer Christopher Ivery, on her 37th birthday on Nov. 10. The couple hasn't set a wedding date.
Pompeo plays surgical intern Meredith Grey in "Grey's Anatomy" at the fictional Seattle Grace Hospital in Seattle. She also provides the narration that bookends each episode.
Besides dealing with the trials and tribulations and extensive workload of being an intern, Meredith is having a hot and heavy affair with the hunky and newly single neurosurgeon Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) - a.k.a. McDreamy.
She is also coping with her mother (Kate Burton), a once brilliant surgeon at the hospital, now institutionalized with Alzheimer's.
Pompeo was working as a bartender in New York in 1996 when an agent approached her about doing commercials. After working in commercials, TV series and in small films, the actress came out to L.A. in 2001 and landed a co-starring role in the 2002 drama, "Moonlight Mile." Pompeo also appeared in such films as "Old School" and "Catch Me If you Can."
Q: This is a big year for you. You get engaged on your birthday and then you receive the Golden Globe nomination the following month.
Ellen Pompeo: Yes, I have a few things to be happy about!
Q: Speaking of the Globes, have you started working on an acceptance speech?
Ellen Pompeo: No way! You know, I don't have a chance. Edie Falco and Kyra Sedgwick [are nominated]. Come on!
Q: But you have done good work this year.
Ellen Pompeo: Thank you, but they have done good work their entire lives! I mean I watch 'The Sopranos' and my boyfriend gets so mad at me because after every episode -- if Edie is heavy in it -- I always say I am so depressed. And he says why and I say because it's knowing you will never be that good. It's just depressing. And he'll throw a pillow at me. So I think I am just very, very happy to be the company of those women. Miracles do happen, but not very often. So I think Edie or Kyra deserve it before I do.
Q: Are you surprised that the series attracts such a diverse age group of fans?
Ellen Pompeo: I think that is the most pleasantly surprising thing about the show. It's surprising that the show is so popular, but I am just so happy that people are finding solace in the show.
Mothers are telling me it is something they can do with their teenage daughters because they are having a hard time getting through to them. This is something they can do together because the teenagers love the show and the mothers love the show. The fact that the show is a vehicle that is bringing people together is the most important thing to come out of this.
I feel hopefully we breakdown all sorts of stereotypes -- racial and medical. I love the fact that also -- not to digress -- that we do have so many elderly storylines in the show. I feel like a lot of shows are into what's young and hip and cool. The fact that we have 14-year-old patients in the hospital and 90-year-old patients in the hospital -- we represent all people.
Q: Meredith must be a dream to play because she has so much going on in her life.
Ellen Pompeo: I knew when I read the pilot I saw those three elements: Here is a first year intern who has a sick mother, who is going to have this romantic relationship with this guy. The three elements were present in the pilot and definitely I felt this was more complex than any film role I had been offered.
Q: Were you surprised about the headlines the series made over the October on-set argument between regulars Isaiah Washington and Dempsey when Washington used a homophobic slur about one of the show's stars? (T.K. Knight, who plays George, came out of the closet soon after the fight).
Ellen Pompeo: I wasn't surprised by it. I knew immediately when that happened, I said 'Oh, oh. They don't know how big this will be.' I knew because I already had my little experiences with the press coming after me and from me doing absolutely nothing. There were rumors I was anorexic and a diva. The fact that none of this was instigated and they made such a big deal about it. I wasn't in the room when the fight happened. I was in the next room and heard the fight and I thought this is going to be huge.
Q: Washington has publicly apologized, so have things calmed down on the set?
Ellen Pompeo: They have completely. There are so many people in our show. We are really, really lucky. I am surprised more hasn't happened. If it wasn't such a great group of people we could have a lot more chaos. Listen, we spend 17 hours a day together. We are pretty blessed.
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