Ellen Pompeo highest-paid TV drama actress

Ellen Pompeo attends the 300th Grey's Anatomy episode celebration in Hollywood, California on Nov 4, 2017.
Ellen Pompeo attends the 300th Grey's Anatomy episode celebration in Hollywood, California on Nov 4, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON • Ellen Pompeo is the highest-paid actress on a television drama, a distinction the Grey's Anatomy lead earned after recently signing a two-year extension of her contract. She'll make at least US$20 million (S$26.5 million) a year.

In a candid interview published on Wednesday by The Hollywood Reporter, the 48-year-old detailed her fight "for what I deserve" throughout her 14 seasons playing Meredith Grey on the ABC medical drama.

"I'm not the most 'relevant' actress out there," she said. "I know that's the industry perception because I've been this character for 14 years. But the truth is, anybody can be good on a show season one and two. Can you be good 14 years later? Now, that's a f***in' skill."

The pilot aired in 2005 and, 13 years later, Pompeo is one of four original cast members left on the series. Justin Chambers, James Pickens Jr and Chandra Wilson are the others.

The show ranked as ABC's No. 2 drama last autumn and continues to draw nearly 12 million viewers.

Pompeo called Patrick Dempsey's exit after his character was killed off in 2015 "a defining moment, deal-wise".

Though Meredith is the lead character, Pompeo had not been able to secure US$5,000 more than Dempsey in previous salary negotiations.

"They could always use him as leverage against me - 'We don't need you; we have Patrick' - which they did for years," she said.

Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes signed a massive deal with Netflix last summer and Pompeo said this led her to ask the showrunner for more to do. As a result, Pompeo became a producer on the drama and a co-executive producer on an upcoming spin-off series and secured the eye-popping pay cheque.

WASHINGTON POST, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2018, with the headline 'Ellen Pompeo highest-paid TV drama actress'. Print Edition | Subscribe