The controversial and much-discussed Grey's Anatomy star breaks his silence and shares his thoughts with Entertainment Weekly about being fired from hit ABC drama, his relationship with the cast, and his future ...
Entertainment Weekly: How are you feeling about what happened last week? Did you think it was fair?
Isaiah Washington: I don't know if it's a question of "fair." I'm saddened by it. I did everything that the producers and the network asked me to do. I came back under great duress and stress, and thought I was doing the job I was hired to do. I thought that was going to speak for my future at Grey's Anatomy, but apparently that wasn't the same vision that the network and studio had for me.
Entertainment Weekly: Why do you think the decision was made by ABC? Was Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes happy about it?
Isaiah Washington: I knew she was aware of the decision. But you have to understand, she's at the helm of one of the top-rated shows on television.
Entertainment Weekly: Were you in touch with Shonda Rhimes after you were fired?
Isaiah Washington: She called me on Thursday of last week [June 7] and told me that I would not be returning to the show. Just like she personally called me and invited me to the show. It was full circle.
Entertainment Weekly: When was the last time you talked to Shonda?
Isaiah Washington: Yesterday.
Entertainment Weekly: There are rumors you may file a lawsuit against ABC.
Isaiah Washington: I don't know anything about that.
Entertainment Weekly: Have you heard from many of your castmates?
Isaiah Washington: No. Everyone is still on vacation. I don't expect to hear from my castmates. I did talk to Chandra Wilson and I got a text message from Kate Walsh. Everyone's doing their own thing. People are still trying to enjoy their summer before they get back to the grind. I think a lot of people are out of the country. I'm still getting calls from people discovering that this change has occurred.
[NOTE: EW also spotted Washington receiving a hug and hi-five from former guest star Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Denny Duquette) at the Chateau Marmont in L.A. the day he was let go.]
Entertainment Weekly: Would you consider you and T.R. Knight to be on good terms?
Isaiah Washington: I don't know. You have to ask T.R. that.
Entertainment Weekly: Anything you'll miss about Grey's Anatomy?
Isaiah Washington: I'll miss working with the team. I think the past season we got our rite of passage and we pretty much all learned what we can and we can't do... like any other new show or fledgling child trying to find its legs. Season 4 is going to be stronger, better and wiser and smarter, and I had hoped to be a contributor to that. That's not the reality.
Entertainment Weekly: There are rumors that you were originally supposed to be the lead in a Grey's Anatomy spin-off (eventually written for Kate Walsh and Private Practice). Did Shonda ever approach you?
Isaiah Washington: Me for a spin-off? No. No. Never. I love Shonda Rhimes and her writing ability and I felt like she made me a better actor because of her talent. I was invited back by Shonda to be part of the team and I always had a team player mentality about that. I took it as a humbling opportunity to be invited and be part of the team. I'm going to miss her writing. She's an extraordinary talent. She's very collaborative and allowed me to create the Dr. Burke that the world has grown to love.
Entertainment Weekly: Would you be open to cameo on Grey's?
Isaiah Washington: Dr. Preston Burke is probably the greatest challenge I've ever had. I've studied the medical world extensively. I enjoy surgeons and I'm glad they do what they do and I gave it everything I had. If Shonda calls me and says, ''Look, we want you to do something for Grey's Anatomy'' I probably would not hesitate. But I don't really see that happening.
Entertainment Weekly: How do you think this is going to affect your career?
Isaiah Washington: I'm working right now [on the indie film, The Least of These]. I can only take one day at a time. I can only apologize so many times. I can only accept so much responsibility. All the players involved have taken care of what we needed to take care of in-house ï¿½" and the media took it in a different direction. I hope that everyone is happy for the outcome for Isaiah, but Isaiah will go on and do what I love to do. And I have to go about the business of letting people know what's written about me is not the truth. I'm merely an actor, a husband, and a father who's trying to do a great job and be very grateful and understanding that I'm in a very privileged position. This isn't a time for me to be looking back; it's only a time for me to be looking forward. I just hope people can understand in the industry and otherwise that it's a horrible misunderstanding what transpired with our show and it was blown out of proportion. If the naysayers out there feel that some justice has been served and that they're happy with the outcome, so be it. It's incumbent on me to take what I do, do it well, grow from the experience, and move on.
Entertainment Weekly: Do you have any concerns about being labeled as difficult as an actor?
Isaiah Washington: Hopefully I'll have an opportunity to address a lot of that down the road. It'd be very cleansing for my soul to let the fans and the general public see a side of me that I feel was horribly represented in the press.
Entertainment Weekly: What type of offers have you received?
Isaiah Washington: I've gotten a ton of offers in both film and TV, and now my agent Ben Press and I are just sorting through all the options. There is one network in particular that's very interested. But I don't want to say anything specific until it's a done deal.
Entertainment Weekly: Why did you decide to make the movie The Least of These?
Isaiah Washington: Actually, I decided to do the part based on the recommendation of Sandra Oh. I was telling her about it last fall and she felt it was a strong role that would be good for me. Since Sandra is a Golden Globe winner among other things I always take her advice. She's a smart lady.
Entertainment Weekly: Would you work with ABC again?
Isaiah Washington: [Laughs] I don't know. That's up to ABC.