‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Ellen Pompeo Performed a ‘Dangerous’ Stunt Because She Didn’t Want to Be ‘Difficult’

Actor Ellen Pompeo has been in countless hours on the set of Grey’s Anatomy over the past 15-plus years. Her character has almost died on several occasions, and Pompeo’s tackled some very tough scenes. Learn what led to one particular stunt and what the experience taught her.

Ellen Pompeo stars in ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

'Grey's Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo sitting in a blue dress
Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey in ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ | Mike Rosenthal/ABC via Getty Images

Pompeo broke out as the star of Grey’s Anatomy when it premiered in 2005. Her character, Meredith Grey, began the series as an intern at what was then Seattle Grace hospital. She worked to get out of her award-winning mother’s shadow as a surgeon and establish her own friends and relationships.

More than 300 episodes later, Meredith is chief of general surgery at the hospital, now called Grey Sloan Memorial. She’s earned her acclaim and prestige along the way. However, she’s also a widow with three children and contracted COVID-19 (coronavirus) during Season 17.

An old favorite episode airs May 13, 2021

As Grey’s Anatomy Season 17 winds down, ABC has taken to releasing new episodes every two weeks. Instead of airing a new episode on Thursday, May 13, 2021, a “fan favorite” two-parter airs back to back on the network: From Season 2, “It’s the End of the World” followed by “As We Know It”

In the episodes, a patient arrives with an explosive poised to go off in his chest. A paramedic (and her hand) are the only thing keeping him alive and the device from exploding. She panics and leaves, but Meredith takes her place. The bomb squad successfully recovers the explosive, only for it to go off moments later.

Pompeo ended up performing a stunt herself

RELATED: Why ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Fans Think Meredith Grey Won’t Survive Season 17

After seeing the preview for the episodes, a fan tweeted a clip of Meredith falling back in the explosion, writing, “all I’m going to be able to think about is how hard @EllenPompeo hit her head on that floor.” The actor retweeted it, writing, “That was actually a stunt double that got a concussion and had to go the ER.”

Pompeo clarified. “The director insisted I do it after the professional got hurt.” She continued, “Of course being the people pleaser I was … I said yes.” Pompeo wrote, “it was about 230 am,” and she “was physically and mentally exhausted.” She “knew it was dangerous and still did it anyway…to not be a ‘problem.'”

The lesson she learned from her experience

Over the years, Pompeo has insisted that women should advocate for themselves on set. “The lesson here ladies is this… don’t do things that make you uncomfortable because you’re afraid people will see you as difficult,” she tweeted of the experience. “Trust me they are going to see you as difficult no matter what you do!

However, Pompeo noted that this instance was about trying to turn out a quality performance. “But also in an effort to do whatever was necessary to make the show great… all worthwhile lessons,” she wrote. “There is a lot of value both in working hard and making mistakes.”