No Leave of Absence For Washington

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Grey's Anatomy fans know Isaiah Washington as the sexy, intense Preston Burke, whose ability to operate as a renowned cardio-thoracic surgeon is still in doubt after he suffered gunshot wounds at the end of Season 2.

No Leave of Absence For Washington
While Dr. Burke's rehab and physical therapy are just beginning, you won't see Washington taking a similar leave of absence. The actor has been using his TV celebrity status to bring awareness to many charitable causes, including humanitarian issues in Sierra Leone.

Earlier this year, the actor, 43, found out he had ancestral ties to the Mende tribe, thanks to a DNA test through This summer, he went to Sierra Leone to film a documentary on his discovery and on the tribal relatives he had never met. The documentary is a work in progress and should be done in 3-4 years, he says.

Here's what the husband, father and Houston native had to say about his journey to Africa and other subjects in an interview with the Detroit News:

On going home:
"I traveled 10 days and got to know my Mende relatives, who made me a tribal chief. So I went to the United Nations and made them aware of what's going on in Sierra Leone. Now that I know I share ancestry with the people, there's a real connection. I'm not just some celebrity showing off. I have a home there and access to 600 acres, where I would like to build a hotel."

On tracing his roots:
"I've always been interested in Africa and I wanted to give meaning to the term African-American."

On Dr. Burke and his career:
"I haven't been interested in any other roles other than Dr. Burke. I've been in close to 40 films, so I don't have that kick in my stomach to want to make movies. I'm very interested in being a producer and being my own boss. I've been given a platform and have walked through doors I wouldn't have been able to without this show. I met with the President and State Department heads to talk about something (Sierra Leone) I feel very passionate about."

On filming in Detroit during Out of Sight:
"I had a blast in Detroit. The people are really cool."

On his beautiful pearly whites:

"I try to stay on top of it. I get a cleaning every three months, and I drink a lot of water."

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I don't see him that way at all, Gator G. When he climbed into Cristina's hospital bed when she was crying after her surgery, he was anything but cold, arrogant, or violent. When she was naming all of the surgical instruments and he came in and asked her to go to dinner with him and she said she was there to think. He looked so hurt. Any guy who likes to spoon in bed, just snuggle up and wrap your arms around your girl and hold her doesn't look cold, arrogant or violent to me, he looks like my ideal guy. He took George in when he was standing there with his suitcase and no where to go. It broke his heart when Eugene Foote died. He even slept with Cristina in her messy apartment when he is a neat freak himself. That came off to me as pretty hot. I'm sorry you are not a fan. I don't think anyone could play this part as well as Isaiah. He is a strong and passionate person. That is what comes through to me in his character of Burke. He can say so much just with his eyes. When he watches Cristina during surgery when she is assisting he has so much love in his eyes for her. He's my favorite of all the characters on the show. Other than Burke I like Cristina most of the time. After he was shot and she was unable to reassure him or even just comfort him like a girlfriend I wanted to shake her, but most of the time I like her spunkiness. I also love Bailey, Alex, George and Issie probably in that order. Then Meredith. I'm not a huge fan of Addison, McSteamy or McDreamy or Callie. I think I got a little tired of the on again off again thing with Meredith and Derek. I'm happy it looks like they are together again now, though. I do like Meredith and empathize with her about her mom. My mom died from pneumonia caused by alzheimers a few years back and I can relate to her sadness over her mom's condition. It is even harder for Meredith because she has unresolved issues with her mom even before she got sick. I hope you will keep an open mind regarding the character of Burke and watch for the ways he is gentle and loving towards Cristina. They are there every week even when he doesn't have much screen time or their story seems to stall a bit.


In the show he comes off cold, arrogant, and violent. Is that his acting or real personality coming through? I'm not too much of a fan. I like Derick, Meredith, George, and Addison the most.


Oh my goodness! How did I miss this yesterday! What a great picture of Isaiah Washington and thank you so much for including more information on him. As I have said so many times on this site, Preston Burke is my dream guy. I am doing a film fest of all Isaiah Washington movies and there is quite a variety of roles. Last night I watched Love Jones and didn't even recognize him at first. I think it must be extremely difficult to keep the integrity of a character week after week on a series like Grey's Anatomy. It is one thing to play a character in a movie and something else to stay true to the character over years. I watch this show primarily to see Burke and Cristina. I love their chemistry. My favorite momemts are all Burke/Yang moments. Thank you, thank you for highlighting the talented and incredibly handsome Mr. Washington on your webpage. I am looking for more of him in the upcoming episodes for Grey's then we have seen in the first three this season. My favorite moment of season three so far is the "Don't die", "I'll do my best" scene in the hospital. Where or where are the real life Preston Burke's of the world who would be laying in a hospital bed and be more concerned about his girl friend's day than his own health. I just love this guy!!

Grey's Anatomy Quotes

When we say things like "people don't change" it drives scientist crazy because change is literally the only constant in all of science. Energy. Matter. It's always changing, morphing, merging, growing, dying. It's the way people try not to change that's unnatural. The way we cling to what things were instead of letting things be what they are. The way we cling to old memories instead of forming new ones. The way we insist on believing despite every scientific indication that anything in this lifetime is permanent. Change is constant. How we experience change that's up to us. It can feel like death or it can feel like a second chance at life. If we open our fingers, loosen our grips, go with it, it can feel like pure adrenaline. Like at any moment we can have another chance at life. Like at any moment, we can be born all over again.


Doesn't matter how tough we are, trauma always leaves a scar. It follows us home, it changes our lives, trauma messes everybody up, but maybe that's the point. All the pain and the fear and the crap. Maybe going through all of that is what keeps us moving forward. It's what pushes us. Maybe we have to get a little messed up, before we can step up.

Alex (narrating)