Back during Grey’s Anatomy’s twelfth season, two-time Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington guest-directed an episode of the Shonda Rhimes medical drama. This week on Ellen Pompeo’s “Tell Me” podcast, she talks to former Grey’s star Patrick Dempsey about her experience working with Washington on the episode, and she wholeheartedly admits to having a screaming match with him when he—that’s right—directed her.
Pompeo has of course put the “Grey” in Grey’s Anatomy, playing Meredith Grey for the entirety of the show’s 16-year run. During the filming of 2016′s Washington-helmed “Sound Of Silence” episode, Pompeo says she took the liberty of ad-libbing the line, “Look at me when you apologize. Look at me,” when playing out an intense scene with another actor.
During the podcast episode, she tells Dempsey, “We love actors who make choices right?” But apparently, as the director, Washington was not impressed with her off-script moment. “Denzel went HAM on my ass,” she says. “He was like, ‘I’m the director. Don’t you tell him what to do.’”
To which she said, “‘Listen, motherfucker, this is my show. This is my set. Who are you telling? Like you barely know where the bathroom is.’” Which is bold, to say the least.
The two, understandably, were not on speaking terms for a while. Pompeo says she even went to Washington’s wife, actor Pauletta Pearson, and told her Washington yelled at her and that Pompeo was not “okay with him.”
Ultimately however, Pompeo says she considers their on-set dispute the force behind the onscreen “magic.” That’s where you get the good stuff,” she says.
She says she and Washington have since patched things up, and she has the “utmost” respect for him as an actor and director, but “yo, we went at it one day.”
The 18th season of Grey’s Anatomy (yes, it’s still on) premieres tonight on ABC.