Determined Isaiah Washington Says That ABC "Fired the Wrong Guy"
The former Dr. Preston Burke on ABC's hit series Grey's Anatomy told the Houston Chronicle that T.R. Knight should have been fired from the show.
Isaiah Washington was not offered a contract and thus let go from the show on June 7, a month before filming for the new season was to begin.
The actor has been slammed with negative publicity since October. That's when he allegedly used an anti-gay slur in reference to T.R. Knight in an on-set argument with co-star Patrick Dempsey.
The Houston native's interviews with the media since have been few.
"I have to clear my name," Isaiah Washington told the Chronicle in a telephone interview from the set of his new movie, The Least of These.
"I'll start from the beginning. I'm telling everything. So here's the truth."
Washington said T.R. Knight, who plays Dr. George O'Malley, stirred up the notion that the slur was targeted at him and created a negative work environment.
The embattled actor also alleged that T.R. Knight likely wanted a salary increase and a more substantive role for his character.
Knight, who acknowledged that he was gay after the incident, told Ellen DeGeneres in January that Washington used the slur against him and that "everyone (on the set) heard it."
"That's a lie," Washington said. "I used the word during a disagreement with Patrick. I apologized for that. We shook hands and went back to work."
Washington also said he is considering a lawsuit. "My livelihood, my honor and dignity and my name have been so challenged."
He said his firing was a big disappointment.
"I was not fired for making homophobic slurs," he said. "I did everything I said I would do. I offered to go to counseling, to do a PSA. I wanted everyone to know I was remorseful."
Washington said he asked to be released from his contract last fall, then again in January when he repeated the slur at the Golden Globes.
His use of the word at the awards ceremony was taken out of context, he says, stating that he was responding to a question from a reporter over whether he had used the slur.
He said he regrets that his actions overshadowed Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes' win for best TV series drama.
Washington first learned ABC would not renew his contract in a tearful, personal call from Shonda Rhimes.
"That was a shock," he said. "I did everything they told me to do, including not saying anything. Then they didn't renew my contract. It's not fair."
ABC executives declined to comment. The 43-year-old Washington said this was the first negative incident in his 20 years in Hollywood.
He said he made three errors in judgment: "Believing that the cast of Grey's Anatomy were like family; believing I had the freedom to express myself with family and that we could resolve our issues; and trusting ABC was going to take care of me. I'm not angry. I'm disappointed."