Shonda Rhimes' medical masterpiece Grey's Anatomy first aired in 2005 — that's right, over a decade ago. Fans around the world met a scrappy young group of interns who were determined to succeed, including Meredith Grey, who was dark and twisty with a legendary surgeon for a mother. Based on the title of the show, most people understood that, amongst the group of main characters, Meredith was definitely the center of it all — not an easy role to take on.
Over the many seasons of the show, Rhimes has refreshed the cast several times — there are a few characters who have been there from the beginning, but many have left, been replaced by others, or joined the cast several seasons into the show. Through it all, Ellen Pompeo has managed to play Meredith Grey with incredible skill season after season — and staying with a character that long definitely isn't an easy task.
It is without a doubt the project she's most well known for now, even though she had several small roles in feature films before snagging the television gig. However, how much do you really know about Ellen Pompeo? Considering she's a huge television star, she tends to keep her life fairly private. We've gathered 15 facts you may not have known about her.
15 She Was Discovered While Working As A Bartender In New York City
It's always interesting to learn how actors and actresses managed to get their big break in the entertainment industry. There are some who struggle for years and years taking classes and tiny nameless roles, and then there are some who are spotted while they're working a regular service job and end up becoming superstars shortly after. Ellen Pompeo's experience is pretty amazing.
According to NYDailyNews, she was working at SoHo Bar & Grill in New York City when a casting director stopped in to get a drink.
The casting director spotted Pompeo and was immediately struck — and ended up booking her for a L'Oreal commercial. Soon, Pompeo began to pursue acting more seriously and eventually moved from New York to Los Angeles. However, who knows what would have happened if that casting director hadn't given her a dose of hope?
14 She Met Her Hubby At The Grocery Store
Celebrities often don't have very cute 'how we met' stories because, most of the time, if they're dating a fellow celebrity, they met at some kind of industry event, or even on set.
However, Ellen Pompeo and her hubby, music producer Chris Ivery, had a meet-cute that's basically straight out of a rom-com — they met at a grocery store in Los Angeles!
Now, they didn't end up tying the knot immediately — in fact, they didn't start dating until about six months later — but something about that encounter in the aisles struck a nerve with both of them. Now, they've been happily married for years and are parents. We bet that Pompeo never imagined she might meet the love of her life when she was just out on a run for some fruit and almond milk.
13 She Is The Youngest Of 6 Siblings — By A Lot
Ellen Pompeo's character, Meredith Grey has certainly had some sibling drama over the course of the show, getting not one, but two half-sisters that she didn't know about growing up. However, in real life, Pompeo's sibling situation is a whole lot more normal. She grew up in a big, loving family with five siblings total — and she's actually the baby of the family, the youngest of them all!
To top it off, she's the youngest by a significant amount — all of her siblings are apparently at least 8 years older than her.
We have to admit, we're curious to know what their reactions were once she started achieving insane success with Grey's Anatomy — it must have been so crazy to watch the baby of the family just skyrocket to superstardom!
12 She's Hinted That She'll Quit Acting Once Grey's Anatomy Ends
The thought of tackling another major role after playing such an iconic character for so long seems like it would be super intimidating.
However, it turns out that Ellen Pompeo isn't too worried about what roles she'll tackle after she stops playing Meredith Grey — because she may not even be acting anymore!
She spilled the beans in an interview with Buzzfeed Brews with Facebook Live, saying that "I definitely feel myself transitioning. I don't find acting terribly empowering. I don't find acting to be a particularly noble way to make a living. I'm not saving anybody's life, I'm not a teacher, I'm not working for UNICEF. I don't think I'm some big deal." Pompeo has been trying her hand at directing lately, and may eventually become someone solely behind the scenes — we can't wait to see what projects she tackles next!
11 She Has Her Own Production Company
So, if Pompeo ever decides to hang up her acting hat and just work behind the scenes directing and producing in the entertainment industry, she's already one step ahead — she has her own production company.
Pompeo actually launched the company, cheekily called Calamity Jane, way back in 2011 when she was still on the show.
And it isn't just some vanity project — Calamity Jane has apparently sold a project to ABC, and was hard at work developing some dramas, including a novel adaptation. Pompeo has definitely racked up a ton of experience in front of the camera, and just being in that environment so long definitely gives you some pointers on what makes a story, episode, or project work — we have a feeling Calamity Jane just might become the next big studio to watch.
10 She's A Boston Girl
There's something so California chic about Ellen Pompeo. She's not afraid to step out without make-up, and unless she's at a red carpet or industry event, she's usually rocking casual, comfortable clothing. She seems like the kind of person who would just relax on the beach, sipping a green smoothie, and not really stress too much about things. However, did you know that Pompeo is actually a Boston girl?
She was born in Everett, Massachusetts, and lived there throughout her childhood years.
She eventually moved to various big cities, including Miami and New York, while she was trying to get her big break, but spending that long in Boston definitely means you've got some Boston in your blood — in fact, you'll often see her and her hubby courtside at Boston Celtics games.
9 She And Hubby Chris Ivery Grew Up Only 10 Miles Apart
Actors and entertainment industry insiders flock to Los Angeles from all over the country, and even the world — so when Ellen Pompeo and Chris Ivery met, they probably figured they would have never met if they hadn't both moved to Los Angeles. However, that may not be the case.
It turns out, as they found out not long after they began dating, they grew up about 10 miles from each other in Boston.
That's right — there's a real possibility that a younger Ellen and younger Chris may have been at the same event or same restaurant sometime, way back in the day, and just never spotted one another. They've built a life together now, but it's probably fun to reminisce together about the things they experienced as children in Boston since they both know exactly what the other is talking about.
8 Jake Gyllenhaal Hit On Her Back When He Was Just An Aspiring Actor
It seems like Ellen Pompeo has been on the A-List forever since she's been playing Meredith Grey for over a decade, but she actually didn't hit it big until a bit later in life. When she was 33 years old, she snagged a role on the film Moonlight Mile — and met one of her co-stars on the film, Jake Gyllenhaal, who was just a 21-year-old youngster at the time.
However, it turns out that she had met Gyllenhaal before she walked into that room.
Apparently, the aspiring actor had put the moves on Pompeo — as she spilled in a Grey's Anatomy press conference, "I had met Jake a couple of weeks prior [to the audition] on the sidewalk. I walked into the room and I saw Jake and I said 'oh my God, it's you!' We sort of bumped into each other. He told me I was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen." What a player!
7 She Rarely Wears Make-Up Off Camera
You might assume that actresses always make sure their makeup is perfect, even when they're just out running errands, because they know there's a very real chance the paparazzi will capture a shot of them. However, as Ellen Pompeo revealed when she chatted with IntoTheGloss, that's definitely not her style.
"I never wear makeup," Pompeo said.
"I get my makeup done at work, but when I'm not working, I never wear makeup unless I have to go out. If I go out, I'll maybe do a pop of a lip, or I just do a smoky black eye and a little Physicians Formula Mascara because it's organic. If I'm going to do a lip it's always Tom Ford... I don't attempt blush or eyeshadow or any of that." Talk about beauty secrets!
6 She Hits The Treadmill Early In The Morning, Every Morning
That IntoTheGloss interview definitely gave us some insights on the A-List actress — and she even spilled some details about her exercise routine. Now, everyone knows that almost every actress has a strict routine, whether they're honest about it or not — after all, their job is to look phenomenal on camera.
Pompeo, it turns out, is an early riser who squeezes in her workouts before her day gets going.
As she said, "I wake up at 5:30 every day, and I go down to the treadmill. I'll have my alkaline water and my coffee, and I take my coffee right down to the treadmill and I get on. I have to get my blood circulating and sweat every day. I feel like it's so important for me to sweat. And I think just the blood flow to my face helps."
5 She Meditates Every Single Day
It's no secret that Pompeo has a busy schedule. Sure, she may not be running around on auditions to try to land her next big role, since she's had a pretty steady gig for over a decade. However, being the face of a hugely popular show definitely doesn't come without commitments — she's often running around doing press or promotional work for the show, in between actually learning her lines and filming the episodes. So, how does she manage to stay grounded with that kind of hectic schedule? It turns out, she's all about meditating.
She revealed to IntoTheGloss that she actually meditates for 20 minutes a day, twice a day, often in her trailer at work in between scenes.
It's obviously working for her — she always seems so lovely and calm.
4 She Was Nicknamed "The Pencil" As A Kid
Luckily, we're in a day and age now where actresses come in all shapes and sizes. There are some gorgeous, curvaceous actresses, there are actresses with fuller figures, there are short actresses, there are tall actresses, etc. While the average starlet definitely does fit a particular thin physique mold, there's a bit more wiggle room nowadays.
Ellen Pompeo has the kind of physique that many models would dream of, but it wasn't always seen as glamorous.
In fact, according to multiple sites, she was nicknamed "The Pencil" as a child because of her slightly boyish figure. However, it definitely hasn't held her back — she's wearing scrubs and a lab coat most of the time on the show, but when she gets all dressed up, she can channel some major va-va-voom.
3 Mayor Michael Bloomberg Was The Only Witness At Her Courthouse Wedding
When Ellen Pompeo wed music producer Chris Ivery, many people likely thought she would have a huge wedding with a star-studded guest list and perhaps sell some of the exclusive photos to the tabloids for a major fee.
However, it seems that Pompeo didn't want all that fuss on her wedding day — she just wanted to show her commitment to the man she loved.
So, she and Ivery ended up tying the knot in a New York City courthouse. However, their choice of witness definitely hints at their star power a bit — the legal witness for the ceremony was none other than New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. Hey, come on — like you're not going to make time in your busy schedule for Ellen Pompeo? He probably loved the experience.
2 She Suffers From Asthma
It's easy to think that stars are larger than life and don't suffer from any kind of ailments or illnesses, but that's not true — they're humans, just like the rest of us, with human problems. In Ellen Pompeo's case, asthma is the thorn in her side.
Obviously, she can make adjustments to her environment as much as possible to manage it, and that's exactly what she did with her furry family members.
She and hubby Chris Ivery have two toy poodles, which Pompeo has mentioned she can happily live with because they don't shed, so they don't irritate her asthma. We just hope she never ran into any tricky situations on set without her inhaler — you don't want the star to become a medical plotline (although Meredith has certainly seen her fair share of illnesses over the years!).
1 Her Pay Per Episode Has Increased Over The Years to $575,000
It's tough to find information about exactly how much Ellen Pompeo was paid right when she started on the show, but fans have seen her pay increase year after year as she negotiated. And, it would have been hard to miss the recent issue of The Hollywood Reporter which referred to Pompeo as the $20 Million woman — because she's officially earning $575,000 an episode.
If you haven't yet checked out the interview with Pompeo, you need to do so immediately — it's the perfect example of what an actress can achieve if she decides to speak up about what she's worth.
She's amazing, she's powerful, and now, she's being paid a whole lot more than she was at the beginning — I mean, seriously, can we get a round of applause for the incredible Ellen Pompeo?
References: women.com, imdb.com, fame10.com, intothegloss.com, ppcorn.com