Ellen Pompeo has been Meredith Grey since 2005, and she's finding it hard to imagine another character will ever capture her in the same way again.
"I'm not saying I would never act again," the Grey's Anatomy star said on the July 27 episode of the Ladies First with Laura Brown podcast. "I very well may, but I'm not super excited about continuing my acting career. I'm more entrepreneurial at this stage, and I'm excited about investing in businesses and starting businesses. That's an area of growth that I'm excited about, using my brain in a different way."
"The acting, even though I haven't done a million different roles, I feel like I've done it," she continued. "Sitting around in trailers, traveling around, shooting this in Atlanta, shooting that in Vancouver. I have no desire to go sit in trailers at 11 o'clock at night and wait to shoot scenes and have ADs knock on my door and tell me when I can eat lunch. You know, it's for the young at heart."
The 51-year-old wife and mother told Brown that she will begin recording her new podcast, Tell Me, this month: "I think, sort of as a theme, if we listen to each other more, maybe we could learn from each other. So, that's where the Tell Me comes in. They had been after me for a while, a lot of different companies, to do a podcast."
Pompeo explained that she decided to agree to do the podcast as a way to show other women that they shouldn't feel boxed in by ageism or sexism:
"When I was in my 30s, I absolutely saw myself as in a box, and that's why I stayed on the show because I said, 'Holy s—t, by the time I can negotiate my contract again and get out of this, I'm gonna be almost 40 years old.' And I'm super typecast in this role. I'm 40, so I'm never gonna work again. Imagine, even 15 years ago, the thought of being 40 was like you're over as an actress. ... Now that I'm 50, I don't see myself that way at all. I think of myself that I can do whatever I want or I could do nothing at all, quite honestly. So, I thought, to set an example for other women who think this way, let me go out there and do something I've never done before and try something completely different for absolutely no other reason than just to try something different because I haven't in so long."
Pompeo added that she misses "the people" the most from the early days of Grey's.
"The actors now are great, too, but during the early days, we all ready had something," she said. "It was so exciting because none of us had ever had that sort of level of recognition. Sandra Oh was quite successful, and Patrick [Dempsey] also was very successful. So they had experienced some level of that. And Katherine Heigl had been working her whole life. She was a child actress and had a wealth of experience. We had a lot of fun back then."
Pompeo keeps in touch with her a lot of her former original costars—"not everybody"—and said they have "the best time" and "the best relationship."
Grey's Anatomy, created by Shonda Rhimes, debuted on ABC as a midseason replacement in March 2005. Pompeo, James Pickens Jr. and Chandra Wilson are the only original cast members still remaining as the all-time longest-running medical primetime drama enters its 18th season.
Pompeo dominated at least one news cycle in January 2018 with this The Hollywood Reporter profile that revealed she had signed a new contract that would land her $20 million annually, making her the highest-paid actress in dramatic television. She has also directed and produced episodes on the series.
When Brown asked what Pompeo is most ambitious for, she vaguely foreshadowed the end of Grey's, which was renewed for at least one more season in May: "I have a couple of really exciting things that I'm working on that I'm not quite ready to speak about yet, but I'm definitely working on my next chapter, so to speak."