A new tell-all book about “Grey’s Anatomy” is revealing some surprising behind-the-scenes dynamics.
In How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy, by Lynette Rice, former star Isaiah Washington reveals that he originally auditioned for a very different role.
“I didn’t audition for Burke, I auditioned for McDreamy,” he says, according to Yahoo!.
The actor says that creator Shonda Rhimes had originally intended the love interest for Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith Grey to be “a brain surgeon who looked like Dr. Ben Carson.”
According to Washington, though, Pompeo didn’t want him playing Derek Shepherd, and the part ultimately went to Patrick Dempsey.
“There’s a rumour out there or something that Ellen didn’t want me to be her love interest because she had a Black boyfriend,” Washington says. “The context is that she’s not into white men.”
He continues, “I guess she implied that her boyfriend may have had a problem with her doing love scenes with me, so she felt uncomfortable,” adding that he “supported” her feelings.
At the time, Pompeo was dating music producer and fashion exec Chris Ivery, who she married in 2007.
Speaking to the New York Post in 2013, Pompeo talked about the McDreamy casting, recalling that Rhimes had wanted “a Black man in the mix” as a love interest, but that the actress “didn’t think they were really going to put an interracial couple on the show.”
She added of Washington, “And I didn’t want him. It was too close to home. I said I wanted that Dempsey kid.”