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Ellen Pompeo Shows Support for How Katherine Heigl Called Out Unjust ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Work Hours

Ellen Pompeo from Greys Anatomy
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Burnout and overwork can happen in all industries — but it’s not always recognized or talked about, especially when it comes to creative fields like acting and television production. While we all love a good medical drama with a talented cast and an attention-grasping plot, but at what point is their work considered too much? Now, more than a decade after Katherine Heigl was criticized for calling out excessive hours on Grey’s Anatomy, Ellen Pompeo is backing her up.

Related: These are the top 5 red flags of a toxic work culture: study.

What did Katherine Heigl say about ‘Grey’s’ work hours?

In 2009, controversy struck when former star Katherine Heigl (known for the role of Izzie Stevens) went on The Late Show with David Letterman and called out the show for unjust working hours — a move which seemed to mark the actress as “ungrateful” at the time.

Was Heigl right?

In this interview, Heigl said that an average workday for the cast was 17 hours, which the actress described as “cruel and mean.” Now, Ellen Pompeo (known for the leading role on the show, Meredith Grey) confirms that Heigl was right.

As explained in People, in an episode of Pompeo’s podcast, Tell Me, the star agreed that Heigl was “absolutely correct” for the comment.

“I remember Heigl said something on a talk show about the insane hours we were working, and she was 100 percent right,” Pompeo said on the podcast, adding, “and had she said that today, she’d be a complete hero,” she said. “But she’s ahead of her time, made a statement about our crazy hours and of course, [it was like] ‘Let’s slam a woman and call her ungrateful.’”

Related: 10 red flags to watch out for before you sign a job offer.

On the podcast, Pompeo brought on a fellow Grey’s Anatomy actress, Kate Walsh (known for her role as Addison Montgomery), and Walsh shared thoughts on the subject: “There’s nothing natural about [the filming process]. There’s nothing human about it. It’s made for a machine; it’s as if we’re a camera or a mic that just goes and goes and goes. And it’s not conducive to any kind of healthy habits.”


With many of us love the show and its now 18 seasons, at some point, enough is enough. While we can only hope for many more thrilling seasons full of romance and plot twists, we also hope for ethical work environments and respect for the voices of the cast.

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