In portraying the female lead of Grey's Anatomy, Ellen Pompeo has generated a great deal of the show's water-cooler and online Reader's Digest to talk about her engagement to longtime boyfriend, record producer Chris Ivery, as well as her views on doctors and her steamy scenes with Patrick Dempsey.
RD: How does your fiancÃ© react to your romantic scenes with Patrick Dempsey?
Ellen Pompeo: Chris is the most secure man I know, which is why I'm going to marry him. But I don't like to throw these scenes in his face. I certainly wouldn't like to see him kissing another woman on-screen. He's not an actor, so he doesn't understand just how unsexy it really is with 40 crew members standing around and doing multiple takes.
RD: I hear you try to distract him from watching the romantic scenes.
Ellen Pompeo: Well, yes, baking chocolate chip cookies is a good way. He loves my chocolate chip cookies, so I put them in the oven and make him check on them all the time.
RD: What do you like most about the character of Meredith Grey?
Ellen Pompeo: The fact that she's flawed but is determined to become a surgeon even though she doubts herself sometimes. There's a remarkable amount of sexism on TV. When male characters are flawed, they're interesting, deep and complex. But when female characters are flawed, they're just a mess. It's good to put more flawed but interesting female characters out there because it promotes equality.
RD: Has playing the role of Meredith Grey given you certain expectations about doctors and hospitals that you didn't have before?
Ellen Pompeo: No. I have fewer expectations now because I understand more about what it means to be a doctor and what they have to deal with. With all the pressure they're under, and the many other things they have going on at any one moment, I understand now why they can't be as compassionate as I might like them to be.
RD: Tell us what you have learned about the medical profession.
Ellen Pompeo: I certainly have more respect for doctors than before. I didn't realize the fatigue and pressure that most of them are working under all the time. It's one of the few professions where if you make a mistake, it can mean somebody's life.