Isaiah Washington Speaks Out On Firing

at . Comments

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 �" 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.

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


I'm with you on that MJ. You are SOoo correct. Also, Does anyone really remember how this all got started.? I do, IW had an argument with Patrick Dempsey. (not TR) He supposedly grab Patrick by the throat. Now stop and think for a minute.(What would make a person SO mad that they would grab hold of another person.?) During this altercation IW (was supposed to have said ) I'm no fa_ _ _ _ like TR. Keep in mind IW and TR never had words. So I'm back to IW and PD. IW didnot get out of bed that morning and think I'm going to work and choke PD. What was said to him to cause him to react like he did. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that. Since they were in the studio working. Only the staff,writers,cast members,shonda camera people were there. One of them Leaked this problem to the media. And you all know the rest. Now, don't get me wrong I love PD,but if all of this started with him,why is the reasoning for firing IW about a word he said.And not about his disagreement with PD.(2) weeks ago PD in an interview praised how well IW was doing. PD did say he(IW) has a problem with his hands.It also seemed that PD and IW resolved their differences.So again WHAT WAS THE REAL REASON FOR HIS FIRING.And I still would like to know what Patrick said to him that made IW grab him. (I can think of a few things, but I would NEVER mention it out loud. )But YOU ALL know NO ONE IS GOING TO OWN UP ON THIS ONE.


Right...coming from an english gay girl, what is all the big hype about someone calling someone else a faggot!!! Right i undersatand that it is clearly not very nice but surely firing him is a bit harsh. At the end of the day T.R.Knight went into acting on his own accord and knew that his sexuality would come out at some point, if it is true that is was because of this incident then sorry but tough. What happens if it was a previous partner walking down the street with a grudge, would he get them fired from their job because of it, no i doubt it, he would laugh it off and keep walking. I know i am sitting here writing this and i don't know exactly what happened on or off set, but at the end of the day life is too short for people to go on like this surely?!?!?!?!


Everything negative they can come up with or find, we're hearing about, so I don't believe there are things we haven't heard about. If there were other things, we would be hearing about that, too - the media would make sure of that. The thing that really makes me angry, among so many other things, is that IW was doing a fantastic job portraying Preston Burke, but yet he didn't receiving any media coverage like he's getting now; he's always been underrated as an actor, and his charity work was rarely mentioned. He has been treated unfairly and so has his fans, and I don't plan to have anything to do with ABC or Shonda Rhimes. I am more of a fan now than I every was before. He turned out to be the bigger man/person in all of this, and will continue to have my support.


Guys...we dont even know the entire story. Obviously, according to IW, the media manipulates things and doesn't always get everything. It could go the other way too. We could just not be hearing about other problems he caused. If he was fired solely for what he said last feb., then i think its harsh. But i have a feeling we're not getting the whole story. I think they mustve had more of a reason. That mightve been what set it off, but we can't assume that it was all because of his gay slur. I guess im still not sure how i feel. I wont miss him terribly - i wouldve missed george more - but i kinda feel bad at the same time. Honestly tho, i'll prolly forget by the 3rd or so episode next season.


Wow I really can't believe how calm he seems to be about this, thats very classy and dignified of him! hes an amazing man and hes going to be missed very much as Preston Burke! :( But I am sure we will see him again, hey maybe on ER or something lol I'm j/k!! or you know another network could do like a Burktina spinoff called Bangs anatomy! lol ok I guess I'm dreaming!


At first I felt like IW did a bad thing...but firing him? Now i feel bad for him...after he just made one mistake. I love that Chandra and Kate reached out to him...and personally I feel that all the other cast memebers are ignoring the situation.


I have great respect for IW. After this interview, he's come out being the better man. I don't plan on watching Greys anymore. Personally, I would not go back if they asked. But, if he decides to come back hopefully he makes them give him a big raise first. I hope he finds another show on another network to make the best show on television like he did Greys. And I hope they apreciate him alot more than ABC did.


First of all I must confess. It is the right of ABC to hire and fire whoever they decide to. But IMO in this case that right makes a wrong. To be perfectly honest I have used the term IW is reported as using a few times(he still says he didnt say it BTW) but not once towards a gay person and not once as a term of sexuality. My question is wasnt TR in the closet, did any of the cast even know he was gay? Does it even make a difference? Anyway I am very dissapointed in the cowardlly actions of everyone who contributed to the firing of IW and the blatant renewing of TR Knights contract(I do however think TR deserved it he's a great actor) all within apparent hours of each other looks more like politics than anything else. Which IMO underminds the whole point of this move on ABC's part. I think in one fatal swoop ABC has ruined a strong aspect of their best show (Burke and Cristinas relationship) showed the whole world that retribution outways forgiveness (even GLAD didnt want him fired) and allowed the so called trouble making actor to be the bigger man in this very good article.Makes you wonder how anyone over there had the thought to air the show in the first place. I think in everyones interest ABC after seeing the retooling of Grey's lead to a substantial rating drop will rehire IW with a nice raise and all will be well. Yes there are still optimist in the world.


I am deeply saddened after reading his interview. I thought that the whole escapade was over after everything he tried to do to right his wrong. But he still got fired in the end. I don't think that is fair. The only thing I can think of is that there must have been more going on behind scenes that we were not made aware of. I know I will miss his character a lot on the show, he was on of my favorites. Burke was always strong, wise, not silly or goofy like a lot of the other storylines. His was real. This is definately a loss for the show. Its going to be interesting how the show does next season with him gone. They may be begging him to come back! :) Very good interview.


I love Kate Walsh and Chandra Wilson even more for actually reaching out to the guy but what the hell is up with everyone else?!? I don't buy that whole on vacation thing they can still text him or something. I am seeing Isaiah Washington in a completly different light now after reading this.(Iam going to miss him soo much btw) I've said this before and I'll say it again...him getting let go from Grey's Anatomy could be the best thing for him. Career wise as well as personally. This could make him a better person and an even better actor.


Grey's Anatomy Quotes

Did you say it? 'I love you. I don't ever want to live without you. You changed my life.' Did you say it? Make a plan. Set a goal. Work toward it, but every now and then, look around; Drink it in 'cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow."

Meredith (closing voiceover)

There's a reason I said I'd be happy alone. It wasn't 'cause I thought I'd be happy alone. It was because I thought if I loved someone and then it fell apart, I might not make it. It's easier to be alone, because what if you learn that you need love and you don't have it? What if you like it and lean on it? What if you shape your life around it and then it falls apart? Can you even survive that kind of pain? Losing love is like organ damage. It's like dying. The only difference is death ends. This? It could go on forever.