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Ellen Pompeo recalls spat with Denzel Washington while filming 'Grey's Anatomy': 'We went at it'

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Ellen Pompeo knows what she wants on the set of “Grey’s Anatomy.”

The 51-year-old actress has starred in the medical drama since it began in 2005 and has seen a long list of celebrities pass through the show as guest stars or guest directors.

One such star was Denzel Washington, who directed a season 12 episode called “The Sound of Silence.”

On the debut episode of her new podcast called “Tell Her,” Pompeo recalled executive producer Debbie Allen roping Washington, now 66, to direct an episode as a “surprise” for Pompeo to keep her interested after starring in the show for over a decade.

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“He came probably three weeks prior so he could get caught up because Denzel doesn’t watch much TV, he’s probably never seen the show,” the actress shared. “He did the show because his wife is a big fan. His wife is really who told him, ‘That show’s amazing, you should go do it.’ I think he saw it as a good exercise to just come in and direct something quick.”

Ellen Pompeo and James Pickens Jr. in ‘Grey’s Anatomy' season 12 episode nine, ‘The Sound of Silence,’ directed by Denzel Washington.

Ellen Pompeo and James Pickens Jr. in ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ season 12 episode nine, ‘The Sound of Silence,’ directed by Denzel Washington.
(Photo by Nicole Wilder/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)

Pompeo did note that Washington had an “amazing” presence on the set and that he’s a “superstar for a reason,” but she felt that he lacked experience in directing for the small screen.

“Denzel’s a movie star, right? He doesn’t know s–t about directing TV,” she claimed.

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“The Sound of Silence” remains the only episode of television Washington has directed. Before that, he directed the films “Antwone Fisher” and “The Great Debaters” – he’s since directed “Fences” and “A Journal for Jordan.”

The episode featured her character Meredith Grey’s jaw being broken by an epileptic patient. She and Washington then disagreed on how the actor playing the patient should apologize to Meredith when the time came.

Ellen Pompeo has starred in ‘Grey’s Anatomy' since 2005. She said that she and Denzel Washington argued when he guest-directed an episode.

Ellen Pompeo has starred in ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ since 2005. She said that she and Denzel Washington argued when he guest-directed an episode.
(Mike Rosenthal/ABC via Getty Images)

“I didn’t really want to talk to this actor or see this actor before we did this scene, so I didn’t have much interaction with him at all,” the star recalled. “And then, he apologized to me, but he was doing it really softly. He made this choice to speak very softly. And I was pissed that I had to sit there and listen to this apology. And he wasn’t looking at me in the eye. Again, we love actors who make choices. And I yelled at him, I was like, ‘Look at me! When you apologize, look at me!’ And that wasn’t in the dialogue.”

Washington pushed Pompeo to stick to the script, she said, adding that he “went ham on my a–.”

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“He was like, ‘I’m the director! Don’t you tell him what to do!'” she revealed. “I was like, ‘Listen, motherf–ker, this is my show! This is my set! Who are you telling — You barely even know where the bathroom is!'”

The actress explained that she has “the utmost respect” for the Oscar winner as an actor and director despite their spat.

Denzel Washington has directed four films in addition to an episode of ‘Grey’s Anatomy.'

Denzel Washington has directed four films in addition to an episode of ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’
(Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

“We went at it one day,” she added, per TooFab. “And then his wife came to set to visit, and I was not talking to him. I was mad at him. And I told his wife, I was like, ‘Yeah, he yelled at me today. He let me have it today, and I’m not OK with him, and I’m not looking at him, and I’m not talking to him.'”

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Ultimately, she said the fight was the result of two artists being “passionate and fiery.”

“It was an amazing experience, it really was,” she admitted. “That’s what it takes to get the good s–t. We were fine after that. He’s just one of the best to ever do it.”

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Reps for Washington did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

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