The wait is over! Meredith and Derek will finally reunite in the May 22 season finale of Grey’s Anatomy. In preparation for the big day, we sat down with Ellen Pompeo to talk about the much-anticipated reconciliation, the show’s future, and how she lays low when she’s done working for the day on ABC’s popular drama.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did [Grey’s Anatomy creator] Shonda Rhimes tell you that Meredith and Derek were getting back together?
ELLEN POMPEO: I came in a couple weeks before we were going to go back to work and she invited me in to talk. She pretty much started off by saying she had time over the break to watch the entire series, saw where it started and where it went and where it needs to go now. It helped her get some perspective.
Did she say she made some mistakes?
This is Hollywood. People don’t admit mistakes.
How did you feel about Mer-Der getting back together?
I told her to please make it be in a way that makes sense. Don’t put us together because the fans want it: so — poof! — we’re together. Please make it make sense. I would have preferred that we really stayed apart for a while and then slowly got back together. I just worry how realistic is it after all of the mess.
How had you been feeling about the relationship?
You can’t really judge characters, because that’s when it gets really hard to play them. But sometimes Meredith has made choices and I’m like, Why would she do this? Why would she continue to keep going back to him after that? You gotta try to find a way to do it, but it’s not always easy. I would never let a man treat me that way.
When did you start to feel that Mer-Der was becoming repetitive?
Last season. Season 3 is when the show really started to get a little unfocused with crazy things like Meredith’s [failed] suicide, and then George and Izzie. It just sort of seemed like it was all over the place, which it kind of was. I know Shonda was writing Private Practice and her attention was diverted.
How did you feel about George and Izzie?
I love Katie [Heigl] and T.R. [Knight] so much that I didn’t really like seeing them together. That’s like my brother and my sister kissing. I don’t want to see my brother and sister kiss! I think it was a little ratings stunt.
NEXT PAGE: ”I’ll never say never about anything. But, I think after seven seasons I’m certainly going to feel like I have nothing to give for this character.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What would Shonda say when you’ve complained about Mer-Der in the past?
ELLEN POMPEO: She always has answers. Meredith can’t commit because there are issues with her mother. But if I couldn’t commit, why didn’t I just walk away? It did get redundant. But nobody wants to hear me complain.
Fans can’t seem to make up their mind whether they want to love or hate Meredith.
Not everyone’s going to like you. I don’t like everybody who I see on TV. You can’t set out to try to have the whole world love you. That’s like some weird ego thing. It’s silliness. At the end of the day I still have an amazing job.
Do you think this show has eight or nine seasons in it?
I don’t know how you can come up with original material for that long, I really don’t. To keep the same audience for eight years…I don’t know how likely that is.
Could you see yourself going to the bitter end?
No. I’m signed on for seven seasons, we all are. And I’ll never say never about anything. But, I think after seven seasons I’m certainly going to feel like I have nothing to give for this character.
Do you try hard to stay out of the press? Except for the occasional Lakers game, there aren’t a lot of paparazzi shots of you walking down Robertson Boulevard in Beverly Hills, doing some shopping.
My wedding was a little bit tricky to pull off. But New York City Hall totally helped us out. It’s not hard to stay out of press if you don’t want it. There are very specific things you can do. I wear the same black tracksuit to work pretty much every day. That’s a little tip I stole from Madonna. If you don’t dress up every day when you leave your house, the paparazzi won’t come. If they know you’re going to step out with a beautiful bag, beautiful dress, beautiful shoes, they’re going to show up like clockwork every day. That’s what the magazines buy. The second reason [I stay out of gossip press] is I think the more people know about your personal life, the less they believe you as a character. I just want people to believe the character I play and believe me in the role. That’s really all I care about.