Skip To Content

    Isaiah Washington Says That Ellen Pompeo Was "Uncomfortable" With Him Being Her Love Interest On "Grey's Anatomy"

    "I didn’t audition for Burke; I auditioned for McDreamy."

    Isaiah Washington almost scrubbed in as a completely different doctor on Grey's Anatomy!

    The entire original Grey's cast

    The actor, who portrayed Dr. Preston Burke on the show from 2005 to 2007, says he actually auditioned for McDreamy.

    A photo of Dr. Preston Burke

    In the recently released How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy, Isaiah shared that Shonda Rhimes had originally envisioned Meredith Grey’s love interest to be "a brain surgeon who looked like Dr. Ben Carson."

    McDreamy sits at a bar with Dr. Burke

    According to Isaiah, that didn't sit well with star Ellen Pompeo, who didn't want him to be cast in the role.

    The entire original Grey's cast

    "There’s a rumor out there or something that Ellen didn’t want me to be her love interest because she had a Black boyfriend. The context is that she’s not into white men," Isaiah explained.

    Meredith talks with both McDreamy and Dr. Burke

    He continued, "I guess she implied that her boyfriend may have had a problem with her doing love scenes with me, so she felt uncomfortable."

    Ellen and her husband, Chris

    Isaiah says he "supported" Ellen, who was dating her now-husband Chris Ivery at the time.

    Ellen and her husband Chris

    The role instead went to Patrick Dempsey, and Isaiah joined the cast as Dr. Burke, until he was fired after using a homophobic slur during a physical altercation on set.

    Dr. Burke and McDreamy stand outside together

    Ellen previously shared her own thoughts about Isaiah's near-casting, explaining that she didn’t think they would "put an interracial couple on the show" and that it was "too close to home" for her.

    Meredith poses with McDreamy

    Meanwhile, it was also recently revealed how Ellen felt about having Denzel Washington on set for an episode — and things got heated!