Actor Isaiah Washington finally is addressing a long-standing rumor involving his possibly playing the love interest of his former “Grey’s Anatomy” co-star Ellen Pompeo.
According to multiple reports of an excerpt from Lynette Rice‘s new book “How To Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy,” Washington, who played Dr. Preston Burke, originally auditioned to play Pompeo’s love interest, Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd, but she was against it.
“There’s a rumor out there or something that Ellen didn’t want me to be her love interest because she had a black boyfriend,” says Washington of Pompeo’s objection to him getting the role, which was ultimately given to a white actor, Patrick Dempsey.
“The context is that she’s not into white men. I guess she implied that her boyfriend may have had a problem with her doing love scenes with me, so she felt uncomfortable,” he continued. “I supported her with that. I had a beard and Afro and was going for a Ben Carson character at the time.”
After three seasons, Washington was fired in 2007 for using a homophobic slur during an on-set dispute with castmate T.R. Knight. That same year, Pompeo, who portrays Meredith Grey, married African-American music producer Chris Ivery.
In 2013, Pompeo shared her thoughts on Washington playing her love interest. She suggested “Grey’s Atanomy” creator and executive producer Shonda Rhimes wanted an interracial storyline, though she personally felt it was “too close to home.”
“You know they wanted Isaiah Washington to be my boyfriend. Shonda really wanted to put a black man in the mix,” Pompeo said. “I didn’t think they were really going to put an interracial couple on the show and I didn’t want him. It was too close to home. I said I wanted that Dempsey kid.”
Washington briefly returned to “Grey’s Anatomy” in 2014 to reprise his role as Burke Since then, he’s starred in “Keys To The City,” an episode of BET’s “Tales” and the Starz strip club drama, “P-Valley.”
“Grey’s Anatomy” returns Thursday, Sept. 30 at 9 p.m. EST on ABC.